Computer science students excel at regional ACM ICPC


A team of School of Informatics and Computing students competed in the East Central North American Regional Programming Contest of the Association of Computing Machinery's International Collegiate Programming Contest on November 9.

A team of three undergraduate students and coaches Tianhao Cao and Christopher Raphael, traveled to Cincinnati to compete against 125 other teams in the prestigious competition. The contest included teams from around 80 schools from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, western Pennsylvania, and eastern Ontario, including competitors from Carnegie Mellon, Purdue University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and University of Michigan.

The group, the first ever to participate in the competition from Indiana University, ranked 22 out of 114 teams, answered three out of nine questions correctly. IU’s team was comprised of computer science students Jonathan Wegener, Jake Pusateri, and Thijs Benschop.

"The ICPC is an invaluable experience for the students in many ways. The problems are highly challenging, usually way beyond the level that one would typically expect of an undergraduate. Often the most interesting and difficult part is the modeling: translating the real-world word problems into the language, tools, and ideas of computer science," said Raphael, computer science chair.

"The problems are quite varied, never repetitive, and stress creativity over knowledge. As we practiced for the competition I saw the students become more imaginative and flexible as well as developing their technique as programmers. It was a delight to support this process, and I hope that other teams will benefit from this wonderful experience in the future."

Three teams solved seven of the nine problems with first place going to one of five teams from Carnegie Mellon; teams from Waterloo, Michigan and Toronto composed the top six scores.

Winners from the East Central North American regional will advance to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, to be held in Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation in June 2014.

According to ACM’s website, the International Collegiate Programming Contest is a multitier, team-based, programming competition, sponsored by IBM and headquartered at Baylor University. The contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. It is the oldest and largest, and regarded as the most prestigious programming contest in the world.

In the contest, teams of students solve eight or more complex problems with a five-hour deadline. Competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy, and mental endurance.

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