The next generation of problem solvers from the University of Northern British Columbia are about to go up against the best of the best computer programmers this weekend in Vancouver.
Six UNBC undergraduate computer science students, divided into two teams of three, are competing at the ACM Pacific Northwest Regional Programming Contest this Saturday, Nov. 11.
Part of the International Collegiate Programming Contest, students from around the world will compete at one of five locations, including UBC. It is the premiere regional programming competition conducted by and for the universities in the Pacific Northwest Region.
The Pacific Northwest region includes top Canadian university teams from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, along with Stanford University, University of California – Berkeley and University of Washington.
Those schools, along with UNBC, compete against each other in Division I and Division II. UNBC is the northernmost school, while Hawaii is the southernmost school in the region.
Teams have five hours to solve as many problems as possible from a given set of 10 to 12 problems with sufficient variation in both the difficulty and the computational aspects that test their skills in programming and problem solving.
In 2007, Dr. Liang Chen took one UNBC team for the first time to enter the contest. Since 2008 under the guidance of their coach, Computer Science Professor Dr. Alex Aravind, UNBC has held its own against top international talent.
Last year, in 2016, a UNBC team placed 11th among 127 overall teams and sixth among 73 Division II teams. The Pacific Northwest region is particularly strong, as Stanford and UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles have won the World finals.
“Competing against those top teams and placing well shows exactly where UNBC’s Computer Science programs stands internationally,” said Dr. Aravind. “It means we can hold our own on the international stage.”
“The competition allows our students to develop their ability to work as a team, develops their programming and algorithmic skills and showcases the next generation of problem solvers,” added Dr. Aravind. “It also speaks to the high quality of computer science students that UNBC is training.”
“UNBC computer science department is very supportive of training and sending our students to this competition, and even offered a special course to train the students in 2013,” says Dr. Aravind.
Graduate students are also involved in practices and graduate student Conan Veitch is coordinating the practice sessions in the last two years.
IBM and Google are the lead sponsors of the events which it allows those companies to recruit top programming talent. One of our contestants Aaron Germuth is now working for Google.
Since January, UNBC teams have been meeting every week outside of their class preparing for the competition.