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Waterloo computer science students top-ranking North American team in international programming competition

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A trio of computer science students from the University of Waterloo were among the top programmers from 128 universities across six continents invited to battle it out in Rapid City, South Dakota on May 24, 2017 at the 41st Annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) World Finals.

“World finalists emerge from local and regional ICPC competitions that take place in the fall,” said Professor Troy Vasiga, one of the team’s coaches. “The ICPC is a gruelling five-hour programming competition and Waterloo’s World Finalist team of Timothy Li, Antonio Molina Lovett and Jacob Jackson finished 18th overall and tied for 13th in this international competition. This is a huge accomplishment and I’m extremely proud of them.”

Headquartered at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and known as the “Battle of the Brains,” the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious programming contest fosters creativity, teamwork and innovation in building new software programs. Huddled around a single computer, trios of students have five hours to solve 12 complex real-world programming problems.

Selection took place from a field of more than 300,000 students in computing disciplines worldwide. A record number of students advanced to the regional level, as 46,381 contestants from 2,948 universities in 103 countries on six continents competed at more than 480 sites, all with the goal of earning one of the coveted invitations to the annual ICPC World Finals.

photo of Waterloo's ICPC World Finalist team Timothy Li, Antonio Molina Lovett and Jacob Jackson

North American Champions (L–R, in blue): Waterloo students Timothy Yi Kuan Li, Antonio Molina Lovett, Jacob Jackson and coach Troy Vasiga

“Congratulations to Timothy, Antonio and Jacob for their impressive standing and to their coaches Troy Vasiga, Andy Huang and Ondřej Lhoták,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “They were the top trio of programmers from North America, beating teams from MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, University of Alberta and UBC among other universities.”

Over the last four decades, the ACM-ICPC has grown from a rivalry among the universities of Texas to a worldwide, multi-tiered competition. In addition to competing in the World Finals, students are exposed to the latest open technologies influencing cloud and mobile computing, the Internet of things and artificial intelligence. The ICPC is sponsored by IBM and hosted by Excellence in Computer Programming.