Computer programming team advances to World Finals again

For the first time, the University of Chicago computer programming team has won the Mid-Central USA regional contest. The victory automatically qualifies the team, named Whiteboard Erasers, for the Association of Computing Machinery/International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 30 to July 4, 2013.

In previous years, UChicago has qualified for the World Finals in a wild-card slot after placing second or third in the regional. The Whiteboard Erasers consists of Naren Hazareesingh, third-year in computer science; Bill Waldrep, fourth-year in computer science; and Kevin Wang, third-year in physics.

The team solved all eight problems at the regional, held Nov. 3 in the Ryerson Physical Laboratory building. Only one other team solved all eight problems, though not as quickly. This team, UChicago’s Conjurers of Cheap Tricks, placed second. All other teams in the region solved seven problems or fewer.

Conjurers of Cheap Tricks consists of Jeremy Archer, first-year in computer science; Jake Koenig, first-year in mathematics; and Harrison Weigel, second-year in mathematics and computer science.

Placing third was Plato, a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which correctly solved seven problems.

Two other UChicago teams also performed well in the region of 150 teams spanning Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. Road Runner solved six problems to take 12th place, while Malloc and the Void Stars solved four problems to finish 49th.

Competing for Road Runner was Alex Becker, second-year in mathematics; Haoru Liu, third-year in mathematics and physics; and David Ramsey, fourth-year in mathematics.

Competing for Malloc and the Void Stars was Carl Butt, fourth-year in computer science and mathematics; Haney Maxwell, fourth-year in computer science; and Stephen Rosen, fourth-year in computer science.

UChicago’s ICPC coach is Borja Sotomayor, associate director for technology in the master’s program in computer science and lecturer in computer science. The assistant coach is Denis Pankratov, a doctoral student in computer science and former ICPC contest who participated in the 2010 World Finals as a member of UChicago’s Works in Theory team.

The ACM ICPC is a yearly contest in which teams from around the world compete by solving computer programming problems. The contest starts with a regional phase, spanning October through December, when each of the ICPC world regions holds contests. The results of the regional contests determine the participants of the World Finals, which hosts more than 100 teams from around the globe.

UChicago’s Department of Computer Science has sent teams annually to the Mid-Central USA regional contest for a decade, and previously qualified for the World Finals in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2002 and 2001. The University’s ACM Student Chapter, which handles team registration and training, coordinates the participation.



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Members of the Whiteboard Erasers team celebrate their win in the Mid-Central USA regional contest. The team correctly answered all eight questions to qualify for the 2013 World Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Photo by Jason Smith

The University of Chicago’s World Finals-bound Whiteboard Erasers computer programming team includes (from left): Kevin Wang, Bill Waldrep and Naren Hazareesingh.

Photo by Jason Smith

Borja Sotomayor, coach of UChicago's computer programming team, looks over results from the Nov. 3 competition.

Photo by Jason Smith

Judges discuss the results of the ICPC event, which was held at the Ryerson Physical Laboratory building.

Photo by Jason Smith

A member of the UChicago team Malloc and the Void Stars works on a problem during the competition.

Photo by Jason Smith

This programming competition problem involved wizards and algorithms.

Photo by Jason Smith

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