June 11, 2011
Dr. Vallath Nandakumar filed the following report of Amrita’s visit to the World Finals of the ACM-ICPC in the US, during May 27-June 1, 2011.
After the sub-zero temperatures of Harbin that we experienced during World Finals (WF) in 2010, balmy Florida provided a nice change of setting for the 35th World Finals in May of this year at the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).
The World Finals represented the culmination of a long selection process. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham had conducted one of the Asian Regional semi-finals in December 2010, and teams from Fudan University (China), IIT Delhi (India) were selected for the WF in Orlando.
In addition to these teams, MIT (US), IIIT Hyderabad (India) and Tsinghua University (China) were among a total of 103 undergraduate student teams at the final contest. Culled from some 8000 teams representing 1200 universities of 88 countries, they were in Florida to compete for cash prizes and glory.
ACM officials representing the premier computer science organization, including President Alain Chesnais, were present, as well as those of the honor society UPE.
Dr. Venkat Rangan, Amrita’s Vice-Chancellor, led a team of senior Amrita faculty to the contest. We met with Bill Poucher, Executive Director of ICPC, who expressed his support for Amrita’s proposal to conduct the first-ever WF in India.
As the Regional Contest Director for Asia-Amritapuri, I presented a paper at the Competitive Learning Institute Symposium conducted as part of the ICPC. The paper, jointly authored by Infosys executives Srinagesh Chatarajupalli and Bhanu Prasad T. V. and Amrita’s Anand Shenoy, was a case study of the joint work in competitive learning undertaken by the two institutions.
Our IBM gift kit, courtesy the corporate sponsors, included sunglasses and sunhats, which delegates found useful at the first main event in Sea World, the IBM Tech Trek. This was a one-hour journey through IBM’s 100-year history of technical achievements including magnetic tape storage and the portable computer. The rest of the day was spent at Sea World enjoying the shows and rides.
The contest day saw the hundred plus teams enter the contest arena in the morning. Five grueling hours awaited the teams, in which they had to solve upto 11 problems on a single computer. A running commentary from a press group kept us informed about the competing teams, their strategies; the commentators were even able to peek into their computer screens to comment on their code.
Zhejiang University from coastal China emerged the overall winners; the team correctly solved 8 of the 11 problems. IIIT Hyderabad and IIT Delhi came in 48th and 55th respectively, solving 4/11 problems each. Good IT companies will compete to hire these students. In future years, we hope that Amrita Vishwa Vidyapetham students will also reach the World Finals.
There was a large contingent of IBM staff at the contest; this was also an opportunity for them to showcase their new technologies in healthcare, energy management and waste management. The final evening saw a tour to the Harry Potter World at the Universal Studios Theme Park where students and staff finally relaxed, all their work for the year completed.