Campus / Mosaic / November 17, 2010

Programmers place at competition

On Saturday, Nov. 6, the Knox programming team drove out to the University of Illinois at Springfield to participate in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest.

The programming team, comprised of nine students taking the Programming Challenges class, split into three smaller teams—Gold, Black & Blue and Purple—to solve difficult programming problems. The Knox team was one of 142 teams from 64 colleges and universities competing in the Mid-Central region at a number of sites. Competition was fierce, as they faced teams from large universities with graduate students on their side.

The competition consisted of solving nine problems within an allotted time, and points were awarded on a pass/fail basis. Junior Casey Samoore, who competed on the Black & Blue team, described the experience, saying, “You only have one computer. When you start hitting a snag in a program, it’s hard to make the decision whether to switch to a different program or to keep going.”

Of the three teams sent from Knox, the Purple Team, comprised of senior Max Galloway-Carson, junior Daniel Sands and junior Michael Kaminski, scored the highest. Solving five problems correctly, the Purple Team finished 8th at their site and 40th in their region. On the whole, Knox finished in the top five among liberal arts schools in their region.

Kaminski said, “I’m not a computer science major, but it was fun because I got to do problem analysis and help out the team and expose myself to what it is that computer science majors do.”

While the students were busy programming, all three of Knox’s computer science professors were in the judge’s room assessing finished problems. The submission and judging process was largely automated, but when a problem comes up wrong, it was up to the judges to determine whether to give credit or not.

This is the ninth year Knox has sent students to the contest. The programming team was bigger this year than ever before—six went last year—as interest in the contest is growing. Professor and Chair of Computer Science John Dooley said, “I think our team did very well. The competition has been getting more intense every year, because I think the competition has been getting more popular, so it’s been getting harder for us to show well. But we more than hold our own against the other liberal arts colleges.”

Maya Sharma

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