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Waterloo programmers earn top spots in programming competition

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Four teams of programmers from the University of Waterloo swept the top spots at an Association for Computing Machinery regional International Collegiate Programming Competition (ICPC) over the weekend. 

The teams – each comprised of three undergraduate students from the university’s Faculty of Mathematics – secured first through fourth place, Waterloo’s best-ever result at the annual competition. The field included 130 other teams from the East Central North America region; universities from across Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan entered teams in the competition that challenges students to solve ten programming problems within a five-hour time limit. 
 
The first place team (Waterloo Black) solved nine of the ten problems and earned the right to compete against 127 of the top teams from universities around the world at the ICPC World Finals in Portugal. The team, comprised of Joakim Blikstad, Jason Yuen and Sean Purcell, will try to become the third Waterloo team to win first place at the World Finals, which have been held annually since 1977.
 
"The ICPC requires not only virtuoso programming skill, problem experience and speed -- it also relies heavily on teamwork.  Each of our teams impressed, not only in the number of the problems they solved but also in finding the first solutions," said Stephen M. Watt, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics at Waterloo. "Our students faced stiff competition from across our region. We congratulate all four teams on their impressive performance, and look forward to watching the Waterloo Black team compete at the world finals in Porto this spring."
 
Coached by Ondrej Lhotak and Troy Vasiga, faculty members in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, and sponsored by Wish, Waterloo’s teams were selected in preliminary competitions open to students from all faculties earlier in the fall. 

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