A team of three Waterloo students have placed 17th at the 45th International Collegiate Programming Contest, the most prestigious and well-known algorithmic programming competition for university students, held this year in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Waterloo’s trio of programmers, composed of Wesley Leung (BSE 2022), Jason Yuen (BMath CS 2022) and Ildar Gainullin (third-year BMATH student, with a double major in Pure Math and Combinatorics and Optimization), competed in the gruelling five-hour contest, solving seven of the 12 real-world algorithmic programming problems.
“We are extremely proud that Wesley, Jason and Ildar were the top competitors from a Canadian university,” said Professor Troy Vasiga, who coached Waterloo’s team with his colleague Professor Ondřej Lhoták. “The competition involves solving the problems while huddled around a single computer, so not only are strong analytic and programming skills necessary, but the programmers also have to have strong teamwork and communication skills.”
“It was challenging for the students to train as a team over the past year because of COVID restrictions and because Jason and Wesley were working in San Francisco and Seattle respectively for the past seven months,” adds Professor Lhoták. “Despite these challenges, they performed exceptionally well — they are the top team from Canada, the third team in North America, and 17th internationally — amongst the 137 teams of university students from 69 countries competing at the 45th ICPC.”
The 45th International Collegiate Programming Contest was scheduled to take place in May 2021, but was delayed until this year because of the pandemic.
Before competing at the 45th ICPC World finals, the team of Waterloo programmers crushed the competition at the 2021 ICPC North America Division Championship, a contest that was held virtually on August 14, 2021, finishing solidly in first place.
About the International Collegiate Programming Contest
The International Collegiate Programming Contest is the oldest, largest and most esteemed university-level algorithmic programming contest in the world. Each year, more than 50,000 students from more than 3,000 universities across 100+ countries square off in contests around the globe to earn a spot at the ICPC World Finals. Volunteer coaches prepare their teams with intense training and instruction in algorithms, programming and teamwork strategy.
Huddled around a single computer, teams of three attempt to solve complex real-world problems within a gruelling five-hour deadline. Teammates collaborate to rank the difficulty of the problems, deduce the requirements, design test beds and build software systems to solve them.
In ICPC competitions, teams of three students represent their university in multiple levels of regional competition. Success at one level leads to an invitation to the next. Each region progresses differently, but the result is the same — the best teams advance. The final regional contest determines the teams advancing to the World Finals.
Waterloo at the International Collegiate Programming Contests
The University of Waterloo is the only Canadian university to win the International Collegiate Programming Competition World Finals, taking the prized title in 1994 and again in 1999.