Strong Performance from NUS Computing in 2017 ACM-ICPC Regional Contests

3 January 2018
Ranald Lam (second from left), Gan Wei Liang (third from left), Nguyen Tien Trung Kien (fourth from left) and Dr Steven Halim (third from right).

3 January 2018 – NUS teams excelled at four ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) regional contests held last month, from 8 to 22 December.

Team DomiNUS, Team 3Freshmen, Team Pandamiao, and Team BubbleTeaM recently competed in the Ho Chi Minh City, Yangon, Manila and Nakhon Pathom ICPC regional contests, respectively. The four contests were part of eight ICPC contests held in the Asia Pacific & South East Peninsula region this season.

Team Pandamiao emerged champions in the Manila contest, and Team BubbleTeaM were the first runner up in the Nakhon Pathom contest. The stellar achievements of both teams qualified them for the 2018 World Finals. Team DomiNUS, winners of the November 2017 Jakarta contest, also qualified for the coveted finals.

This is the first time three NUS Teams have qualified for the World Finals from three different contest sites. “This has never happened before. Last year, we had two World Final qualifications from two teams that both ranked second place,” said NUS ICPC Coach Dr Steven Halim, winner of the Best Coach award at the Manila contest.

The ICPC contests pit teams of three university students against eight or more complex, real-world problems, with a five-hour deadline. Competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance.

Team Pandamiao, made up of second year students Gan Wei Liang and Nguyen Tien Trung Kien, and first year student Ranald Lam, won first place in the 2017 ACM-ICPC Manila Regional Contest, held on 14 December. The team correctly solved a total of nine problems, and surpassed 35 other teams in the contest.

“Team Pandamiao won by a margin of three problems, the largest ever margin I’ve seen an NUS team won throughout my ICPC career,” said Dr Halim.

According to team member Kien, the contest’s problems played on their team’s strengths, and the team attributed their win to their experience from the Jakarta contest in November.

“At the end of the contest, we were surprised that we were the only team that managed to solve problems C and D, which we estimated were ‘easy problems’,” said Kien.

Following Team Pandamiao’s success, Team BubbleTeaM, consisting of students Muhammad Rais Fathin Mudzakir, Agus Sentosa Hermawan and Jonathan Mulyawan Woenardi, won second place in the 2017 ACM-ICPC Asia Nakhon Pathom Regional Contest.

Team BubbleTeaM solved 10 out of 12 problems in the 22 December contest, two problems short of the winning South Korean team’s perfect score. A total of over 70 teams competed in the Nakhon Pathom contest.

Rais and Agus were part of the 2017 NUS ICPC World Finalist Team, where they placed joint-20th among 133 world finalists.

Team DomiNUS, winners of the Jakarta contest, extended their winning streak at the 2017 ACM-ICPC Ho Chi Minh City Regional Contest, held on 8th December.

Fourth year students Vu Dinh Quang Dat and Le Xuan Manh, and first year student Phan Duc Nhat Minh, won the first prize in the ‘Top Four Universities’ category. The team ranked fifth, after Vietnam National University, two University of Tokyo teams, and Peking University.

The team competed against 148 teams and successfully solved 6 out of 12 contest problems. This is the first time NUS sent an official team and a coach to the Vietnam contest.

“Our performance was not the best in terms of solved problems, as many teams also solved six problems, but compared to the Jakarta contest, we improved our coding speed and accuracy, which placed us higher than other teams with the same number of solved problems,” said Dat.

Team 3Freshmen, made up of first year students Sergio Vieri, Robin Christopher Yu and Kwee Lung Sin, also ranked 5th in the 2017 ACM-ICPC Asia Yangon Regional Programming Contest. A total of 46 teams competed in the 10th December contest in Myanmar.

“One of the problem statements was ambiguous and had many [typographical errors], and so many teams avoided it,” said Lung Sin.

“However, Robin suggested to Sergio that he should code our solution anyway, and we started making reasonable assumptions about what the authors of the problem meant. To our surprise, our answer submission was accepted on the first try.”

This daring approach won the 3Freshmen a USD150 cash prize for solving the problem fastest.

“Our team would not have performed this well if not for our coaches, Dr Steven Halim and Prof Tan Sun Teck, who were invaluable in our training and gave great pointers on strategy. We are also thankful to our sponsors who made this trip possible,” said Lung Sin.

NUS Computing’s participation in the ACM-ICPC regional contests was supported by generous donations from Sea Group, Indeed Tokyo, Google and Jump Trading.

The ACM-ICPC is an annual multi-tiered programming competition among universities across the globe. Participation has grown to several tens of thousands of contestants from over 80 countries. It is the oldest, largest and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, with more than 100,000 members. The organisation brings together computing educators, researcher, professionals, and students to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence.

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