Computer Programming team advances to World Finals

For the fourth year in a row, a team of three University of Chicago students has qualified for the World Finals of the International Collegiate Programming Contest, organized by the Association for Computing Machinery.

The team, called “Whiteboard Erasers,” placed second in the Mid-Central USA regional contest on Nov. 5, while two other UChicago teams placed ninth and 16th in a 142-team field of universities in Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Along with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, UChicago was the only other school in the region to place three teams among the top 20.


Due to its solid performance in the regional, “Whiteboard Erasers” was invited to participate in the World Finals, which will take place May 17 in Warsaw, Poland. Only 110 teams in the world, out of more than 8,000 teams representing more than 2,000 universities in 88 countries, earned this distinction.

The UChicago team of second-year students includes mathematics major Joe DiCapua, computer science major Naren Hazareesingh and physics major Kevin Wang. Borja Sotomayor, lecturer in computer science, coaches the team, with help from assistant Louis Wasserman, a fourth-year mathematics major.

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. UChicago falls under the auspices of the Mid-Central USA region, which spans 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 2011, 2010, 2009, 2002 and 2001. The University’s ACM Student Chapter, which handles team registration and training, coordinates the participation.