York does best yet at International Collegiate Programming Contest

How soon will a mountainous island be divided into separate islands as ocean levels rise? What is the fastest way to drive across town if you know the timing of all the red lights? These are just two of the eight problems given to York’s teams of computer programmers who entered the International Collegiate Programming Contest, East Central North America Region, organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Right: Dmitri Shuralyov (left), Trevor Brown and Almaz Rakhmetov, members of York’s senior team

York sent two teams of three students each to the regional contest held at McMaster University in Hamilton on Oct. 31. The senior team ranked sixth out of 113 teams coming from across Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana. “This is a very strong showing in a difficult region,” says Eric Ruppert, a professor in York’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering in the Faculty of Science & Engineering. Among Ontario universities, only the University of Waterloo, which routinely finishes in the top 10 in the world finals, ranked higher than York. After York, the next best Ontario team was from the University of Toronto, in 12th place.

Members of York’s senior team were Trevor Brown, a computer science student; Almaz Rakhmetov, an information technology student; and Dmitri Shuralyov, a master’s student in computer science.

Left: Edgar Ghahramanyan (left), Albert VanderMeulen and Stephen Leong, members of York’s junior team

During the contest, the teams were given five hours to solve eight challenging problems using a single computer. York’s senior team solved six of them. Only two of the 113 teams managed to solve all eight, and two other teams solved seven of the problems. 

This was York’s strongest showing yet at the regional contest. This kind of success requires a mix of skills – good team strategy, problem solving, complexity analysis, lightning-fast programming, testing and debugging. The problems were drawn from many different areas of computer science, requiring knowledge of graph theory, algebra, backtracking, probability theory, simulation and data compression. The problem set and a full listing of the standings are available by visiting the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest Web site.

York also sent a team of three more junior undergraduates, Edgar Ghahramanyan, Stephen Leong and Albert VanderMeulen. They solved two problems and gained some valuable experience for future competitions. Only a quarter of the participating teams solved more than two problems.

Both teams were coached by Professors Franck van Breugel, Suprakash Datta and Eric Ruppert of York’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, who organized a series of practice contests at York throughout the year. The practice contests are open to all, and the coaches would be pleased to see new participants joining in to prepare for next year’s contest, says Ruppert.

For more information about the practice contests, visit the York Programming Contests Web site.