By David Murphy
Two KAUST students—Kerven Durdymyradov and Charles Edward Sexton—participated in and won honors at this year’s Open Mathematical Olympiad for University Students (OMOUS-2023). The Olympiad was held at the International University for the Humanities and Development (IUHD) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, from April 23-28, 2023.
Over 280 contestants from Azerbaijan, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan competed in the event.
The Olympiad consisted of two parts: an individual and a team competition. During the individual section, participants were given six math problems and had four hours to solve them. The problems covered a range of topics in linear algebra and vector calculus.
In the team competition, more than 50 teams, each comprising a maximum of four students, participated. The KAUST team—led by Durdymyradov, who served as an Olympiad jury member—were given 10 math problems to solve within a two hour-timeframe.
In the individual competition, Sexton won the bronze medal. His team, composed of four international students, also secured a silver medal in the team competition.
A thrilling experience
Durdymyradov is a Ph.D. candidate studying under the supervision of Professor Mikhail Moshkov in the Extensions of Dynamic Programming, Machine Learning, Discrete Optimization (TREES) research group. He is currently working on a project with Moshkov titled "Relations between Decision Trees and Decision Rule Systems." The project aims to explore new connections and innovations within the subject.
Sexton, who completed his bachelor’s in aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama, is conducting his master’s thesis at KAUST under the supervision of Associate Professor Sami Al-Ghamdi. As part of the work, titled "Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Cooling Demands of Buildings in Hot-Arid Regions," he aims to understand future climate scenarios in the Kingdom to determine how much energy will be required to maintain comfortable temperatures inside buildings.
“I feel truly grateful. This was the first time KAUST was represented in Turkmenistan, and the local media was very interested in us. Being the first team to represent KAUST and receiving honors was exciting and fulfilling,” Durdymyradov said of his team’s participation in OMOUS-2023.
“I hope this experience will be just the beginning of a legacy of representing KAUST with honors. The teamwork, the competition, and the event's spirit contributed to an unforgettable experience I look forward to building upon. I am also thankful to KAUST and my PI, Mikhail Moshkov, for this opportunity,” he added.
“It is a humbling and thrilling experience to represent the University, especially in an academic competition,” Sexton added. “We were fortunate enough to win a few medals, and I think I was more surprised than anyone else. I really credit our instructor, Alexandra Gomez, who covered many topics in the math course she provided.
“I am truly thankful for the leadership provided by Kerven leading up to the event and while there. His experience and understanding of Math Olympiads is the reason we were able to have a podium finish. Additionally, I am thankful to KAUST for supporting each student's academic success,” he concluded.