Evan O'Dorney, 17, bested 40 finalists in the competition that drew 1,744 entries to win the prize for his work comparing two ways to estimate the square root of an integer, according to a statement released by the Intel Corporation.
As a byproduct of his research, Evan, who apparently developed an early interest in math, solved other equations useful for encrypting data, the corporation said.
Evan was already exploring mathematics and checking math textbooks out of the library at two years old, according to Intel.
Two other California high school students -- Selena Li, 17, of Fair Oaks, and Xiaoyu "Carrie" Cao, 17, of San Diego -- were among the top 10 winners.
Including Evan's top prize, the top 10 winners received $630,00 in awards. The remaining 30 finalists each received at least $7,500 in awards, and in total, the Intel Foundation awarded $1.25 million in the competition.
Of the 1,744 high school seniors who entered the competition this year, 300 were announced as semi-finalists in January. Those competitors were whittled down to 40 finalists and invited to Washington, D.C., to compete for the top 10 awards.
This year's finalists were from 15 states and represented 39 schools.
"The creativity and leadership of these 40 Intel Science Talent Search mathematicians and scientists holds tremendous potential to move our country forward," Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement today.
Otellini said that identifying the common characteristics of these finalists would be the key to revitalizing math and science education nationwide.
The competition, which is a program of Society for Science & the Public, encourages students to explore how the world works and develop solutions for global challenges, according to Intel.
Other finalists' projects studied disease transmission, cancer treatment, and improving efficiency in generating electricity using wind turbines, among other topics.
The nonprofit organization Society for Science & the Public has owned and administered the talent search since the competition began in 1942.