UCT students' expertise travels well

10 April 2007

UCT student Tamara von Glehn became the first woman from South Africa to compete in the 31st world finals of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), sponsored by IBM, earlier this month.

Her team, regional champions The Travelling Salesmen from UCT's Department of Computer Science, finished in 26th place. In doing so, they outgunned 48 other teams, including competitors from institutions like Harvard and Duke, at the competition's 31st annual world finals.

By beating the Arab Academy for Science and Technology, UCT retained its title as the African and Middle East champions for the fifth consecutive year.

A total of 6 099 teams from 1 756 universities in 82 countries competing at 205 sites, and hundreds more competing at preliminary contests worldwide, took part in the initial rounds of the competition. Of these, 88 teams fought it out for bragging rights and prizes at the world finals on 15 March, hosted by the ACM Japan Chapter and IBM Tokyo Research Lab.

The Warsaw Eagles from Warsaw University in Poland took top honours.

Competing teams were given 10 complex computer programming problems, modelled on real-life business challenges, with only five hours to solve them. The Travelling Salesmen started slowly, taking over 75 minutes to solve their first problem. But they soon picked up speed, and were able to solve three more problems before their time was up.

Tamara's fellow Travelling Salesmen were Timothy Stranex and Migael Strydom. The team was led by BSc honours student Marco Gallota.

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