North American Champs

North American ChampsNorth American Champs

Carnegie Mellon's three-person programming team bested other North American teams and placed 11th overall at the World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Top 12 finish earned Bronze Medals for team members Nathaniel Barshay (CS'13), Yan Gu (CS'13) and Jonathan Paulson (CS'13). The team was proclaimed the North American champions for outscoring MIT, Stanford, USC, Waterloo and all other teams from the continent. Seventeen teams represented the United States.

The ICPC, the world's oldest and most prestigious programming contest, exposed students to key emerging trends and capabilities, such as applying analytics technology to Big Data. In a test of teamwork, speed and skill, the students worked to solve the most computer programming problems they could in the least amount of time.

"We offer a class to train for these competitions, and many more students participate in it than just the three who can go to the world finals," said Danny Sleator, a professor of computer science who coached the team with Richard Peng, a Ph. D. candidate in computer science.

"The kinds of skills they learn from that training is extremely useful in research, and also in job interviews where they are typically asked to solve a problem," Sleator added. "They learn a lot about algorithms and data structures. They learn problem solving. And they become fluent in a programming language of their choice. These skills mesh very well with the material of a number of the core computer science classes, so it helps them with their other classes."

Last year, Sleator says, CMU sent five teams of three to the regional competition in Youngstown. One of the teams was all women.

"The top contenders, such as this year's team, have a great item to put on their resume." Sleator said.

A team from the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics — which also was the host institution for the World Finals — was the overall winner, solving 10 problems within the five-hour limit. The CMU team solved six problems. Check out the final standings on the ICPC website.

Gu is a Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department. Barshay and Paulson graduated in May with bachelor's degrees in computing science.

The ICPC, also known as the Battle of the Brains, is sponsored by IBM. The CMU team's sponsor was Jump Trading.

The 120 teams that competed in St. Petersburg emerged from local and regional competitions last fall that involved more than 300,000 students in computing disciplines worldwide.

Barshay, Gu and Paulson took first place at the ACM-ICPC East Central North American Regional Programming Contest.

Pictured above: Carnegie Mellon's Nathaniel Barshay, Yan Gu and Jonathan Paulson practice their problem-solving skills during a dress rehearsal for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo Courtesy of the ACM-ICPC.

Related Links: School of Computer Science | Computer Science Department