UBC computer science students dominate prestigious ACM programming contest

The University of British Columbia has emerged as a powerhouse
among university Computer Science departments at this year’s
ACM Programming Contest in the Pacific Northwest Region of
North America.

Beating out more than 80 other teams from Canada and the
United States including the traditionally favoured teams from
Stanford and Berkeley, three teams of students from the UBC
Department of Computer Science took first, third, and fourth
places respectively in the prestigious 2003 Association for
Computing Machinery (ACM) Programming Contest at the Portland
State Campus, Portland, Oregon.

“I’m extremely pleased with the success of all three
of our teams and I’m proud of the dedication shown by the
student members and the coach. This accomplishment is testimony
not only to the amazing calibre of students attracted to our
department but also to the level of instruction and mentorship
they receive once they get here. It was a great team effort,”
said Department Head Bob Woodham.

“Although we’ve always been strong contenders
for the top spots, this is the first year since UBC began
competing in 1996 that a team has made it to the World finals,”
said Alan Hu, faculty advisor to the teams.

The annual five-hour competition presents programming problems
that teams must solve using C, C++ and Java. Restricted to
one computer per team, each team is given nine programming
problems to solve. UBC’s first place team was the only
team to complete eight of the nine problems, completing four
questions within the first 67 minutes of the competition and
eight question at the three and a half hour mark. “The
key is to choose the easiest problems and solve those as quickly
as possible” said the team’s coach, Jonathan Backer,
a PhD student within the department. Backer is a veteran of
the 2001 World competition where he represented the University
of Alberta.

UBC’s top team will join 72 other regional teams at
the 28th ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest
World Finals in Prague, The Czech Republic, in March 2004.

Winners of the International competition typically receive
prizes and scholarships from IBM, the contest’s sponsor.
In addition, winning team members are often thrust into the
advantageous position of being able to pick and choose from
top graduate schools.

UBC competed in a region, which includes Alaska, Hawaii,
British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, northern / central California
and western Nevada.

Members of the UBC Computer Science teams

First Place – UBC 0

  • Sebastian Kanthak, Markus Moll, Wolfgang Hess

Third Place – UBC 1

  • Peng Zhao, Mark Yen, (ECE), Tudor Costin, (Physics)

Fourth Place – UBC X

  • Igor Naverniouk
  • Frank Pok Man Chu (Math and Computer Science)
  • Andrew Rothbart
  • Alternate: Yury Kholondyrev

For more information about the contest and the final standings
visit: http://www.acmcontest-pacnw.org/.

The UBC Department of Computer Science is a dynamic, youthful,
and growing community renowned internationally for its excellence
and depth of research. Recognized for teaching innovation,
the Department places a conscious focus on interdisciplinary
programs. There are approximately 900 undergraduates, 185
graduate students and 41 full time faculty members.

UBC Computer Science Contact Information

Gayle Mavor
Communications Coordinator
Tel: 604.822.1440
Fax: 604.822.5485
E-mail: gmavor@cs.ubc.ca