Programmer merrily codes his way to runner-up spot

31 October 2011

Dr Bruce MerryGetting with the program: Dr Bruce Merry finished second in an international competition that pitted the world's best programmers against each other.

UCT postdoctoral research fellow Dr Bruce Merry claimed the runner-up spot at the TopCoder Open finals in Florida, US, in September.

Narrowly missing out on the top prize to Japanese programmer Makoto Soejima, known in TopCoder circles only as rng_58, Merry beat thousands of other contestants to snatch the $5 000 (just under R40 000) purse for second place.

The TopCoder Open pits computer programmers from around the world against each other in a race to solve various problems by writing the best code in the quickest time.

In the algorithm section in which Merry participated, contestants were faced with three abstract puzzles, each demanding a swiftly-written program to crack them.

Among other brain-teasers Merry was asked to solve, he was tasked with creating a program that would lay down parameters for the probability that contestants in a game of darts would hit the target.

Merry, based in the Department of Computer Science, is currently researching the potential of graphic processing units (GPUs) for general-purpose computing, and is also collaborating with the Department of Geomatics on African heritage projects.

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