Matie team is Middle East and Africa’s best in ‘Battle of the Brains’ competition
The first Matie team ever to qualify for the World Final of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) did Stellenbosch University proud by being crowned as the best team from Africa and the Middle East.
Sponsored by IBM, the competition, also known as the “Battle of the Brains”, challenged 105 university teams to solve some of the most challenging computer programming problems in just five hours.
The Matie team of Ralf Kistner, Francois Conradie and Dirk-B Coetzee reached the finals as representatives of Africa south of the Sahara region (also see http://blogs.sun.ac.za/news/2011/05/24/matie-team-ready-for-computing-world-final-in-orlando/)
During the World Finals they shared the 42nd spot overall with university teams from Princeton and ETH Zurich, among others. They were named as the best team from the African and Middle Eastern region, and also trumped the South Pacific winners in the process.
The Stellenbosch team managed to complete four of the eleven problems assigned to them. The competition was intense, as the top two teams only managed to solve eight problems in their allotted five hours.
The World Finals was dominated by teams from Asia and Eastern Europe, with 22 of the top 26 teams being from these regions. Students from Zhejiang University in China were crowned World Champions, followed by the teams of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Tsinghua University, and St Petersburg University.
“We are very proud of our students for returning the regional champions title to South Africa for the first time in three years,” says Dr Steve Kroon of the Division of Computer Science in the SU Department of Mathematical Sciences (Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science) who accompanied the Stellenbosch team to the event.
“Simply qualifying for the World Finals was an impressive achievement, so to beat six other Africa and Middle East teams to claim the regional champions spot in Stellenbosch University’s first ever appearance in the final round is quite special for us,” he says. “Our focus now is on building from the foundation this team has laid to qualify for the 2012 World Finals in Warsaw.”
“The problems we asked students to solve at World Finals were extremely advanced. We asked these students to go beyond the theories they learned in class to find real world solutions to urgent issues facing our planet, such as urbanisation and finite energy resources,” said Dr Michael Karasick, vice president of architecture and technology at IBM Software Group. “This competition continues to highlight the ability of the next generation to build a smarter, more efficient planet.”
Hosted at the Peabody Hotel and Conference Centre in Orlando, Florida, the students embraced the latest in technology and advanced computing methods including the opportunity to experience a number of high profile technologies from IBM, such as analytics and cloud computing.