The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Professor Po-Shen Loh brings the power of simple ideas to MSJ

By Staff Writers Jennie Wang & Annie Xu

Drawing a crowd that filled C-120, MSJ welcomed Carnegie Mellon University Professor and International Math Olympiad CoachPo-Shen Loh for a guest speaker event during lunch on December 12. Hosted by the  Math, Academic Challenge, and Computer Science Clubs, the event featured Loh’s lecture on the power of simple ideas and his contact tracing method.

Loh describes a graphic from his presentation.

Loh focused his presentation on NOVID, an app he developed for COVID-19 contact tracing using probability and game theory. By predicting the degrees of separation necessary for personal safety, NOVID is designed to protect communities from large-scale viral outbreaks. Through his speech, Loh hoped to convey the powers of simple ideas and to empower students to find confidence in their own skills. “You guys are all really capable…I’m trying to let people see how sometimes a simple thing anyone could think of could be really powerful,” Loh said. 

Loh chose to present at MSJ after remembering a previous visit with the Math Club in 2017. After Loh contacted Math Club Treasurer Sophomore Brian Li and Sophomore Emma Li on December 8 with the idea for another school-wide presentation, the two officers then gathered the other clubs to begin planning the logistics. 

Despite the short notice, the officers managed to reserve C-120 and publicize Po-Shen Loh’s lecture throughout the school by the next morning. Using social media platforms such as Facebook, Discord, and Instagram, the officers were able to reach more than 200 students.

Loh poses with the event organizers.

Ultimately, Loh and the organizers hope that the presentation inspired students to learn more about education and how to bring simplicity to complex issues. “I hope that his lecture also inspires… … many people use their experiences to take on big challenges in the world, such as the current pandemic,” Math Club President Senior Richard Chen said.

Cover image by Web Editor Tanisha Srivatsa

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