The Major Qualifying Project (MQP) is a professional-level design or research experience completed by every WPI undergraduate. An integral element of WPI's project-enriched education, the immersive capstone project enables students to synthesize their learning by tackling and solving real-world problems in their fields of study.

Some of the most active career directions in the mathematical sciences are reflected in the MQP areas around which the department's offerings are organized: Algebraic and Discrete Mathematics, Computational and Applied Analysis, Operations Research, and Probability and Statistics. Many students also complete their projects with under the guidance of industrial sponsors through the Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics

Learn about some recent MQP’s completed by Mathematical Sciences students:

Actuarial Mathematics

Title: Pet Insurance Product Development
Student: Caitlin M. Donovan
Advisor: Jon P. Abraham
Year: 2014

This project examines an insurance company’s pricing process for pet insurance. We collected and analyzed data about pet treatments, costs, and incidence rates and created a simulation model to test the profitability and measure the company’s success. The results show that the dog business is more successful than the cat business and that there is room for future adjustments as experience data becomes available.

Algebraic and Discrete Mathematics

Title: Experimental Improvements to Regularity Clustering
Student: Stephen L. Peters
Advisor: Peter R. Christopher
Year: 2014

Data clustering is an immensely powerful tool. The analysis of big data has led to many clustering techniques. The relatively new technique of Regularity Clustering has been shown to outperform industry-standard clustering techniques in many circumstances. In this report we present new methods of executing Regularity Clustering. One such technique, which we call the most recurring construction method, outperforms the standard Regularity Clustering method by a significant margin.

Computational and Applied Analysis

Title: Optimal Bid Pacing for Online Ad Impression Markets
Student: Jeremy V. Macaluso
Advisor: Stephan Sturm
Year: 2015

The purpose of this MQP was to develop a model to predict costs and construct a bidding strategy for Cidewalk, an online advertisement platform for mobile marketing developed by Chitika Inc. We created algorithms to minimize the total cost of a set of Vickrey auctions for ad impressions. We developed an equation to calculate the estimated total cost of winning a set of auctions, and from that we are able to obtain an optimal bidding price of the next auction.

Financial Mathematics

Title: Bank of America Quartz WorldMap Infrastructure Monitoring
Student: Zhaokun Xue
Advisor: Roger Y. Lui
Year: 2015

Bank of America’s Quartz platform, which is used for developing all internal company applications, is made up of over 600 application and database servers deployed in over 25 data centers globally. There are many variables that can contribute to issues in the environment, such as CPU/memory consumption, disk space, and network latency. Our team built an online interactive world map, named “Quartz WorldMap Infrastructure Monitoring,” that could graphically show the environment and alert when key performance thresholds are breached.

Mathematics Biology

Title: Metapopulation Dynamics of the Northern Spotted Owl
Student: David M. Eufemia
Advisor: Sarah Olson
Year: 2015

The complex relationships between metapopulations, groups of populations of a particular species, and their environments can be mapped using a basic metapopulation equation. This report sought to capture a more realistic description for the Northern Spotted Owl by developing the basic equation into three ordinary differential equations by introducing parameters that have largely unexplored relationships with rates of extinction and colonization. After finding strong correlations between parameters and effects, it is clear that more data must be collected to develop an accurate and working model.

Mathematics Education

Title: Student Preparedness in College Mathematics
Student: Samantha J. MacNeal
Advisor: John Goulet 
Year: 2015

Educators often wonder – is the work we are doing here preparing our students for the next step? This report explores student preparedness for college math through several mediums, including faculty perceptions, student comments, and numerical data. Results show that recent improvements have had not have a significant impact on student preparedness in the past five years. In addition, the report found that basic skills are often overlooked in favor of preparing for standardized and AP Tests.

Operations Research

Title: Traffic Modeling and Optimization at Mountview Middle School
Student: Sarah J. Bober
Advisor: William Martin
Year: 2013

The focus of this study was to model and improve the design of the parent drop-off area at local middle school. We collected real-world data and used MATLAB to create a simulation that represented each of the queuing models. We also represented the drop-off situation as a Markov process and we explored various solutions for redesigning the drop-off area by changing parameters of the system and seeking suggestions from local traffic engineers.

Probability and Statistics

Title: Incorporation of PPI in LRT
Student: Dongni Zhang
Advisor: Zheyang Wu
Year: 2015

Statistical association studies have contributed significantly in the detection of novel genetic factors associated with complex diseases. Incorporation of biological information that reflects the complex mechanism of disease development is likely to increase the power of association tests. In this study, we develop a statistical framework for association studies that integrates the information of the functional effect of SNPs to the disease related protein-protein interactions. Based on both real and simulated phenotypes of hypertension, the method is compared with multiple well-known association tests for sequencing data.

View additional MQP’s in our project database.