The University of Waterloo crushed the competition at the 2021 International Collegiate Programming Contest North America Division Championship held virtually on August 14, 2021, finishing solidly in first place.
“This is an incredible result,” said Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Troy Vasiga, who coaches the team with his colleague Professor Ondřej Lhoták. “Waterloo solved 12 of 13 problems, finishing in the top spot, and beating teams from MIT, Georgia Tech, Swarthmore College, University of British Columbia, University of California at San Diego, and University of Toronto.”
2021 ICPC North America Division Champions • Top 10 teams
As one of the top 19 teams at the 2021 ICPC North America Championship, Waterloo’s team consisting of Ildar Gainullin (2A computer science), Jason Yuen (4B computer science) and Wesley Leung (4A software engineering) will advance to the 45th Annual ICPC World Finals.
“The level of competition in this contest is fierce, which makes the team’s performance — solving 12 out of 13 problems, where all other contenders solved 9 or fewer — simply outstanding,” said Cheriton School of Computer Science Acting Director Jo Atlee. “Congratulations, and bravo to the team and their coaches.”
“Both Troy and I are extremely proud of the team members,” said Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Ondřej Lhoták. “They exceeded our already high expectations, and they worked exceptionally well as a virtual team that has not been able to train together over the past year because of the pandemic.”
“We worked hard during the contest, and the hard work is paying off,” adds Ildar, a second-year computer science student. “We are excited and proud to represent the University of Waterloo at the upcoming World Finals.”
Although this will be Ildar’s first opportunity to compete at the World Finals, Jason Yuen was a member of the Waterloo team that competed at the 2018–19 ICPC World Finals and Wesley Leung is a member of the Waterloo team heading to the 2019–20 ICPC World Finals, a competition tentatively scheduled to take place in October 2021.
Waterloo’s teams were sponsored by Jane Street, an international firm that trades a wide range of financial products.
About the International Collegiate Programming Contest
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 more than 3,000 universities across 111 countries compete in regional competitions to earn a spot at the World Finals.
Volunteer coaches prepare their teams with intense training and instruction in algorithms, programming and teamwork strategy. Typically huddled around a single computer, teams of three attempt to solve eight to twelve 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 that solve the problems.
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 end result is the same — the best teams advance. The final regional contest determines the teams advancing to the World Finals.
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 World Finals, taking the prized title in 1994 and again in 1999.
A passion for programming: An interview with Professor Ondřej Lhoták
Read a feature article about Professor Ondřej Lhoták, who was a member of the Waterloo team that won the 1999 ICPC World Championship and now coaches Waterloo’s teams with his colleague, Professor Troy Vasiga.