Strong showing at virtual Waterloo-local ICPC-style programming contest

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The International Collegiate Programming Contest is the oldest, largest and most prestigious university-level algorithmic programming contest in the world. Each year, more than 50,000 students from some 100 countries compete in regional competitions to earn a spot at the world finals.

image depicting Waterloo-local ICPC-style programming contest

But before regional competitions are held, many universities hold ICPC-style programming contests locally, from which teams are selected to represent their institution — first in the regional ICPC competition and, if the team places highly there, in the final ICPC world competition.

On Saturday, October 24, we held our fall Waterloo-local ICPC-style programming contest. In total, 66 Waterloo students participated, of which the top five were all undergraduate students at the Cheriton School of Computer Science —

  • Ildar Gainullin (1A CS), who earned first place for solving all five problems
  • Jason Yuen (3A CS), who earned second for solving all five problems
  • Pang Wen Yuen (1A CS), who earned third for solving four out of five problems
  • Kevin Wan (1A CS), who earned fourth for solving four out of five problems
  • George Chen (1A CS), who earned fifth for solving three out of five problems

The twist this year is that the local contest was held virtually. And in keeping with the need to keep safe and healthy during a pandemic, the problems participants were given to solve were COVID-19–inspired — questions about optimizing the efficiency of contact tracing and coronavirus testing, assessing the effectiveness of travel restrictions, and adapting transportation infrastructure to allow for physical distancing.

The local ICPC contest was organized by Cheriton School of Computer Science Professors Ondřej Lhoták and Troy Vasiga and sponsored by Jane Street, an international firm that trades a wide range of financial products.

“This is the second time we’ve held our Waterloo-local ICPC-style programming contest virtually,” said Professor Lhoták. “Participation this fall was just as high as in previous years and our talent pool once again is truly outstanding. Congratulations to Ildar, Jason, Pang, Kevin and George on their impressive scores.”

“Ondřej and I are grateful to Jane Street for financial sponsorship,” said Professor Vasiga. “We’re also grateful to former Waterloo ICPC team members Volodymyr Lyubinets, Joakim Blikstad and Richard Peng for their help in developing a problem set that not only assessed programming talent but is highly relevant for 2020.”

Waterloo’s proud history at the International Collegiate Programming Contest

The University of Waterloo is the only Canadian university to win the International Collegiate Programming Competition, taking the prized title in 1994 and again in 1999. In 2018, our students swept the top four spots at East Central North America regional competition, a gruelling contest against 129 teams from schools that included Carnegie Mellon, the University of Michigan, and the University of Toronto.

Let’s do it again this year!

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