UCT team at world competition

15 May 2006

A UCT computer programming team was placed 39th among 83 world teams in the 30th International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, held from April 9 to 12 in San Antonio, Texas.

The team of Shen Tian (honours, mathematics), Marco Gallotta (third year, computer science), Harry Wiggins (honours, mathematics) and coach James Gain (lecturer, computer science) won the regional finals last year.

"The contest pits teams of three university students against eight or more complex, real-world problems, with a gruelling five-hour deadline," Gains said. "Huddled around a single computer, competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance."

Their team mates collaborate to rank the difficulty of the problems, deduce the requirements and design test beds and build software systems that solve the problems under the intense scrutiny of expert judges.

"For a well-versed computer science student, some of the problems require precision only. Others require a knowledge and understanding of advanced algorithms. Still others are simply too hard to solve - except, of course, for the world's brightest problem-solvers."

Each incorrect solution submitted is assessed as a time penalty.

"You don't want to waste your customer's time when you are dealing with the supreme court of computing," Gain said. "The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time is declared the winner."

UCT beat out teams such as Carnegie Mellon, Virginia Tech and the University of Auckland. Importantly, they were placed first in their region, winning the Middle East and Africa trophy, which UCT has won four years in a row.

The winning team? Saratov State University in Russia

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