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Thursday, September 13, 2007

IBM and ACM Announce Global "Battle of the Brains" Software Competition

The most talented students of computing, from all corners of the world, competed in Tokyo, Japan, at the 31st annual World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), March 12-16, 2007. The event was hosted by ACM Japan and the IBM Tokyo Research Lab, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The ICPC is the world's most prestigious university competition in computing sciences and engineering, according to ACM.

More than 6,099 teams on 6 continents participated in regional contests held last fall. The top 88 teams qualified for positions at the 2007 ACM-ICPC World Finals championships and competed in Tokyo.

The 88 teams who competed in the World Finals were made up of 25 North American teams, 2 teams from Africa/Middle East, 10 from Latin America, 20 from Europe and Russia, and 31 from the Asia/South Pacific region.

Battle of the Brains

The contest pits teams of three university students against eight or more complex, real-world problems, with a grueling five-hour deadline. Huddled around a single computer, competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance.

Teammates collaborate to rank the difficulty of the problems, deduce the requirements, design test beds, and build software systems that solve the problems under the intense scrutiny of expert judges. For a well-versed computer science student, some of the problems require precision only. Others require a knowledge and understanding of advanced algorithms. Still others are simply too hard to solve - except, of course, for the world's brightest problem-solvers.

Judging is relentlessly strict. The students are given a problem statement - not a requirements document. They are given an example of test data, but they do not have access to the judges' test data and acceptance criteria. Each incorrect solution submitted is assessed a time penalty. You don't want to waste your customer's time when you are dealing with the supreme court of computing. The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time is declared the winner.


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