Computer Programming Team Advances to World Finals

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

A team of three University of Chicago undergraduates has qualified for the World Finals of the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The team, called "Works in Theory," placed third in the Mid-Central USA regional contest. Competing against 7,000 teams from more than 1,800 universities in 88 countries, the team excelled. It became one of only 100 teams to advance to the finals, which will take place April 21 in Stockholm .

The team includes Ian Andrews (Class of 2011, planning to major in Computer Science), Lauren Ellsworth (Class of 2010, majoring in Law, Letters, & Society and Computer Science), and Louis Wasserman (Class of 2012, Common Year, planning to major in Mathematics).

Michael O'Donnell, Professor in Computer Science, and Borja Sotomayor, Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science, coach the team.

The ACM ICPC is a yearly contest where 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 University of Chicago falls under the auspices of the Mid-Central USA region, spanning Arkansas , Illinois , Kentucky , Missouri and Tennessee . Based on the results of the regional contests, teams are invited to participate in the World Finals.

The Department of Computer Science has sent teams annually to the Mid-Central USA regional contest for nearly a decade, and previously qualified for the World Finals in 2001 and 2002. The University's ACM Student Chapter, which handles team registration and training, coordinates the participation. This year, the Department of Computer Science assembled three teams, which placed first, second and ninth at the Chicago site, and third, fourth and 21st in the entire Mid-Central USA region (out of more than 150 teams in the region).

Additional Information

About the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery (, is the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals 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. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, career development and professional networking.

About the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC)

The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) is a multi-tier, team-based programming competition operating under the auspices of ACM and is headquartered at Baylor University . The contest involves a global network of universities hosting regional competitions that advance teams to the ACM-ICPC World Finals. Participation has grown to several tens of thousands of the finest students and faculty in computing disciplines at almost 2,000 universities from more than 80 countries on six continents. The contest fosters creativity, teamwork and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. It is the oldest and largest programming contest in the world.

About the University of Chicago's ACM Student Chapter

The University of Chicago's ACM Student Chapter facilitates communication and collaboration, both within the university's computer science community and the larger community. It organizes a variety of events throughout the year, including roundtable discussions, guest lectures and gaming nights.

The chapter coordinates the University's participation in the ACM ICPC by encouraging students to form teams and assisting them in organizing practice sessions and solving problems in preparation for the contest. The ACM student chapter is also responsible for maintaining PhoenixForge, a collaborative Web site for open source development for University of Chicago students.