New York: Indian-origin Akilan Sankaran has won the top prize in the nation’s leading science competition with a computer programme using “antiprime numbers” that can accelerate everyday processes.
While the 14-year-old won the $25,000 prize in the Broadcom Masters science and engineering competition on Thursday, three of the four winners of the next level prizes of $10,000 were also of Indian-origin, as were 15 of the 30 finalists from around the country.
Maya Ajmera, the president of the Society for Science (SfS), which runs the competition with Broadcom Foundation, said: “The young people we are celebrating today are working to solve the world’s most intractable problems. The Broadcom Masters finalists serve as an inspiration to us all, and I know they will all go on to find immense success on their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) journey.”
Akilan’s winning entry was the computer program that can calculate “highly divisible numbers” that are called antiprime numbers and are over 1,000 digits long, SfS said.
“He created a new class of functions ï¿½ the smooth class ï¿½ to measure a number’s divisibility” and his programme has the potential capacity to speed up and optimize the performance of software and apps,” it said.
“By analysing and developing ‘smooth highly divisible numbers’, Akilan’s goal was to make calculations run more quickly, in turn accelerating countless everyday processes and tasks,” it added.
Sankaran “hopes to become an astrophysicist so that he can merge three of his favourite topics: physics, mathematics and space science”, according to the SfS.
Camellia Sharma, 14, built a 3D-printed aerial drone/boat that can fly to a spot, land on the water and take underwater photos while its software can then count the fish living there, winning a $10,000 award.
Another winner of a similar award, Prisha Shroff, 14, developed an artificial intelligence-based wildfire prevention system that uses satellite and meteorological data to identify fire-prone locations and deploy drones there.
For her study of the many social factors that affect the health of communities, Ryka C. Chopra, 13, geocoded the locations of fast-food restaurants to see if they are built near populations of obese people, perhaps contributing to the obesity cycle, winning another $10,000 award.
More than 1,800 middle school students from across the US entered the Broadcom Masters competition.