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From Warsaw, Poland

May 23, 2012 - 10:13

Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, Br. Anand Shenoy and I were in Warsaw during the week of May 13-18 to attend the annually-held World Finals of the largest and most prestigious collegiate programming contest in the world.

Sponsored by IBM for the past 13 years, the World Finals represents the culmination of years of sweat and excitement, seeing hunched shoulders and red sleep-deprived eyes as contestants from 88 countries over 6 continents compete in what is also known as the Olympics of Programming.

The ACM ICPC this year selected 108 teams of 3 undergraduate students each from nearly 30,000 contestants belonging to 2200 colleges and universities all over the world. These 324 finalists were supplemented by coaches, contest staff, spectators and the press at the World Finals.

The winners this year were St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics and Optics, followed closely by University of Warsaw, which also happened to be the host.

The Indian team from IIT Delhi came in 20th, setting a new record for Indian teams at the ACM ICPC World Finals. They also won a spot at the ICPC Challenge, an auxiliary contest where the contestants vied with each other to program a game.

Five Indian teams from IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, IIT Kanpur, IIIT Hyderabad, and the Chennai Mathematical Institute were present at the World Finals this year. All five had put forth an excellent performance at the Asia-Amritapuri Regional Contest that was sponsored by IBM, Infosys, DirectI and IP Infusion. The teams’ travel to Warsaw was sponsored by Google, India, and DirectI.

The actual contest on Thursday, May 17, 2012 was preceded by a glittering opening ceremony with the Deputy Prime Minister and other dignitaries in attendance. There were banquets with long tables. We also had the opportunity to go on a walking tour through Warsaw’s Old Town rebuilt after World War II. A fun-filled trip to the Copernicus Museum of Science and Culture followed.

The warm-heartedness of the Polish people was evident as friendly shopkeepers greeted us and helpful hotel staff answered our queries. Of course the many student and staff volunteers of the host institution, the University of Warsaw, took care of our every need.

On the day of the contest, during the 5-hour time slot, students attempted to solve 10 algorithm-based programming problems in the shortest time possible. Each team was given one computer, pencils and papers, and a basket of food to keep it going. Although one could hear snatches of Arabic, German, Chinese and Russian and many other languages, English was the language of the problems and of the contest. Merely competing at this level was testimony to the fact that these young men and women were among the best programmers in the world.

The Amrita team held discussions for bringing this prestigious event to Kochi, India, in a few years time.

“We are sure that Amrita is fully committed to holding this event at its usual standard of excellence, or even higher,” said Bill Poucher, Executive Director of the ICPC. “It is about time it came to India, we feel, after its last few years in San Antonio (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Banff (Canada), Stockholm (Sweden), Harbin (China) and Orlando (USA).”

Registration for the 2012 contest at Asia-Amritapuri will begin in August 2012 at the Amrita and ICPC websites.

May 23, 2012
Amritapuri Campus

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