They had 30 problems, 24 hours, and a lot of Coca-Cola. Yet three College of Computing students not only survived the IEEEXtreme online programming competition on Oct. 14, 2017, they came in third internationally out of more than 3,000 teams worldwide.
“Team GT” included School of Computer Science Ph.D. students Majid Farhadi and Yu Gao, and CS undergraduate Animesh Fatehpuria. All are competitive programmers who have placed well in previous competitions. Farhadi’s past IEEEXtreme team came in first in 2015. Fatehpuria won second in last year’s CodeCon.
Despite their prior success, the hackathon was still a challenge for these veterans. Every hour multiple programming problems were released for 24 hours straight. Participants gain points not just for solving the problem correctly, but also for the speed and complexity of their solution.
The winner can be determined by a mere second. In the 2017 competition, the top 11 teams all solved the problems accurately, so ties were broken by time penalties.
But for Team GT, it’s not all about winning.
“We enjoy solving problems,” Farhadi said. “This helps students to practice and improve their skills.”
He hopes more students will participate in this year’s challenge. As long as students can analyze a problem, devise algorithms to solve it, and program, they can compete with the best of them.