Blair senior named finalist in Intel Science Talent Search

Jan. 30, 2008, midnight | By Maya Calabrese | 15 years, 4 months ago

Louis Wasserman to compete for up to $100,000 in March

Senior Louis Wasserman was named a finalist in the 67th annual Intel Science Talent Search today. He is one of 40 high school students nationwide - and one of two in the state - to advance in the prestigious research competition and will present his original research to nationally recognized scientists in March at the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C.

Semifinalists for the Intel competition were announced Jan. 16 and each received $1,000 in scholarship money. Of the 300 semifinalists, 40 were named finalists and received an additional $5,000, a laptop and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. from March 6 - 11 for the final judging process. The top ten projects will be ranked and a grand prize of $100,000 in scholarship money will be given to the winner, according to the Intel press release.

For his project, Wasserman wrote an 18-page paper in which he rephrased a major question of the computer science world in such a way that it could be more easily understood. "My project has the potential to help with a major unsolved question in computer science called P versus NP, which asks if there's an efficient way of attacking problems that seem to require brute force," Wasserman said. His project could be applied to questions such as whether or not there is any effective way of breaking computer security systems.

There is a $1 million prize for anyone who solves the mystery of P versus NP, according to the Clay Mathematics Institute, a group dedicated to increasing mathematical knowledge and the founder of the prize.

According to Wasserman, his project could be a step closer to resolving this problem and ultimately finding whether or not a variety of important computational problems, ranging from social network analysis on Facebook to computer security hacking, have efficient solutions. "We don't want there to be a quick way to access private data," he said, "but nobody has proven there is no practical way to break computer security. Proving that there isn't a clean way of breaking computer encryption would be extraordinarily important."

Wasserman completed his project in the Magnet program's Senior Research Project course, which students take during the second semester of their junior year and the first semester of their senior year. The course requires that students intern the summer between the two semesters and write a research paper that they can then submit to different competitions.

Last year, Blair students Matt McCutchen and Brian Lawrence were named finalists with theoretical computer science and mathematics projects, respectively.

Editor's note: Louis Wasserman is the SCO Senior Technical Staffer.

Maya Calabrese. Maya is a SSEEENNNIIOOORRR! Her guilty pleasures include MTV, chocolate, boys and blasting music in her granny mobile with the windows down. More »

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