York teams solve programming puzzles

Give them a puzzle and they will solve it. On Nov. 8, York sent two teams of computer science students to compete in the regional competition of the International Collegiate Programming Contest. Hosted by the Association of Computer Machinery (ACM), this annual event tests the skills of computer programming students in a marathon competition that takes place at locations around the world.

York’s Gold team did extremely well, ranking 6th out of 128 teams from the East Central North American region. The team consisted of three undergraduate students: Stefan Ihnatesn, Andreas Katsiapis and Zhiyan (Stan) Li. They successfully solved five out of eight programming problems during the five-hour contest. (Only the top team in the region managed to solve seven of the eight problems.) York’s Red team (Zhonghao Li, Hao Ma and Hui Wang) solved two problems and ranked 52nd. The teams were coached by three York computer science professors, Suprakash Datta, Eric Ruppert and Bil Tzerpos.

“This exciting result demonstrates that our students can take the education we provide and compete with the best in the world. In the past, teams from Waterloo have won the international competition (1994, 1999) and the University of Toronto and Carnegie Mellon teams have also placed very highly. So our regional competition is of world calibre,” said Peter Cribb (left), Chair of the Department of Computer Science.

“Key to our success this time was the outstanding team of students, and the support and preparation that professors Datta, Ruppert and Tzerpos provided,” said Cribb.

The regional contest was held simultaneously at four locations. The York teams competed at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, the location for this year’s event. The five-hour marathon saw teams from 71 universities and colleges from Ontario, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

This year’s problem set included problems involving graph theory, geometry, automata theory, dynamic programming and other topics. The York teams spent hours preparing for the competition, solving problems and participating in practice scenarios.

Further information about the regional contest, including the problem set and the final standings are available from the contest Web site.