PALO ALTO -- Sahana Vasudevan, a senior home-schooled in Palo Alto, has placed 10th in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search for high school students.

For placing 10th, Sahana was awarded $20,000. She entered a math project that proves a new way to minimize carries that may improve the speed and efficiency of computer algorithms. We all learn carries in basic arithmetic -- when adding 7+5, for example, the sum is 2 in the right column and the 1 is carried to the left column.

While that sounds fairly simple, Sahana wrote about carries in computing, where the carry is handled by a "carry bit." Going beyond the conventional decimal base, where the first column represents 1s, the second column 10s, the third column 100s, etc. -- she explored odd prime bases. She found she could reduce the probability of carries, and thus decrease the computational load.

Sahana, who attends the Gnyanam Academy home school, is also fluent in Tamil, and has won awards for singing and playing the violin in the south Indian classical Carnatic style.

Five Bay Area students were among the 40 competing in Washington, D.C., in the finals of the talent search. The finalists were selected from 1,712 entries.

First place and a $100,000 award from the Intel competition went to Sara Volz, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colo., for her research of algae biofuels. Jonah Kallenbach, 17, of Ambler, Pa., won second place and $75,000 for a bioinformatics study. Adam Bowman, 17, of Brentwood, Tenn., won third and $50,000, for designing and building a compact and inexpensive, low-energy, pulsed plasma device.

The Intel Foundation awarded $1.25 million in the 2013 Science Talent Search.

In its 72-year history, the Science Talent Search has produced alumni who have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, five National Medals of Science and 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.

To view a video of Sahana, go to https://vimeo.com/proofic/review/61542029/34d87daf89 and type in the password intel. For more information, go to https://backup.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=8c6d62875a6571b0a2a9

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.