NUS Computing students excel at regional competitive programming contests

12 November 2019
Winners of ICPC Jakarta regional contest Le Quang Tuan (in red jacket, left), Nguyen Dinh Quang Minh (in red jacket, centre) and Tran Tan Phat (in red jacket, right), with NUS ICPC coach Dr Steven Halim (in red shirt).

12 November 2019 – Two teams of NUS Computing students emerged as winners at the recent International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) regional competitions held in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur from October to November this year.

ICPC is the world’s oldest and most established algorithmic programming contest for university students. Teams of three university students race against the clock to solve as many of the algorithmic problems presented. Top scoring teams from the ICPC regional contests will receive the opportunity to compete in the contest’s annual global championship round – the ICPC World Finals.

A total of seven NUS Computing teams were selected to represent the university at seven different ICPC regional contests held from November to December this year. So far, six of the seven teams have competed in the Jakarta, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur contests. Team Send Bobs to Alice and Team 3body3 won the Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur regional contests respectively, while Team 3body3 achieved a commendable third runners up ranking at the Bangkok regional contest.

Edging out the competition

Second year Computer Science students Le Quang Tuan, Nguyen Dinh Quang Minh and Tran Tan Phat, won the first place title at the ICPC regional contest held in Jakarta held from 26 to 28 October. The team, Team Send Bobs to Alice, beat 64 other teams to win the top prize and became the fifth NUS team to win the championship at the Jakarta contest. This is Tuan, Minh and Phat’s first time clinching the winners title since joining NUS Computing’s ICPC team. The trio placed second and third in last year’s Singapore regional contest and Nakon Pathom regional contest, respectively.

Tuan, Minh and Phat solved 10 problems out of 12 presented problems – their team tied with two teams from University of Tsukuba and the Bina Nusantara University based on the number of problems solved. However, the team managed to edge out the competition by incurring low time penalties for wrong submissions. They also won three ‘First to Solve’ prizes for being the first team to solve a given problem.

“We were able to solve most of the contest problems without submitting a wrong solution,” said Phat, on behalf of his team. “This meant that our time penalty for wrong submissions was quite low and it really helped us to win even though we were unable to solve anything for an hour due to a tricky problem.”

“All three of us were pleasantly surprised by our results and the Jakarta contest has been a good morale boost for our upcoming ICPC contest in Danang, Vietnam,” Phat added.

Team Send Bobs to Alice and five other NUS Computing teams (Teams Pandamiao, Pokemon Goh, 3 Sophonomore, and 7 Halim) will be competing in four upcoming contest sites in Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

No problem left unsolved

Team 3body3, consisting of third year NUS Computing students Bernard Teo (Applied Mathematics and Computer Science), Bay Wei Heng (Mathematics and Computer Science), and Sidhant Bansal (Computer Science) beat 32 other teams to clinch the winners title at the Kuala Lumpur regional contest held from 8 to 10 November. The team also achieved an impressive feat of solving all 10 problems presented at the contest.

This is Team 3body3’s second time winning the first place title at a ICPC regional contest. The team emerged as champions at last year’s Yangon regional contest. They were subsequently chosen to represent Singapore and NUS at the 2019 ICPC World Finals held in Porto, Portugal, from 31 March to 5 April this year.

In addition to solving all contest problems, Team 3body3 was also the first to solve four problems and won four ‘First to Solve’ prizes for their achievement. “At some point in the contest, we fell behind several other teams. We had only solved six problems while the leading teams solved seven,” said Wei Heng, on behalf of his team. “However, our situation turned around when in a short span of eleven minutes, each team member was able to fix the code we were working on and that gave us an additional three solve problems.”

“Another memorable moment was when we solved our last problem in the last half an hour of the contest and secured our victory. The code we wrote for the problem was rather complicated and prone to bugs. There was a high chance our submission would have failed but we managed to get it right on our first submission,” Wei Heng added.

NUS Computing’s participation in the 2019 ICPC regional contests was supported by the generous contributions from IndeedSea GroupSenseTimeJump TradingHudson River Trading, and DRW.

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