UTSA Hosts 2018 ACM Programming South Central USA Regional Contest

The University of Texas at San Antonio hosted 2018 ACM International Collegiate Programing Contest for the South Central USA Region this past Saturday, November 10th. The ICPC is the premiere global programming competition where contestants test their skills at comprehension, analysis, problem solving, coding, debugging, resource management, self-control, and communication.

Top student teams from universities across Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma converged in the North Paseo building to represent their school and compete for a chance to advance to the World Championship round in Beijing, China.

The contest pits teams of three university students against eight or more complex, real-world problems, with a grueling five-hour deadline. Huddled around a single computer, competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy, and mental endurance.

Teammates collaborate to rank the difficulty of the problems, deduce the requirements, design test beds, and build software systems that solve the problems under the intense scrutiny of expert judges. For a well-versed computer science student, some of the problems require precision only. Others require a knowledge and understanding of advanced algorithms. Still others are simply too hard to solve – except, of course, for the world’s brightest problem-solvers.

Judging is relentlessly strict. The students are given a problem statement – not a requirements document. They are given an example of test data, but they do not have access to the judges’ test data and acceptance criteria. Each incorrect solution submitted is assessed a time penalty. You don’t want to waste your customer’s time when you are dealing with the supreme court of computing. The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time is declared the winner.

For over four decades, the ICPC has grown to be a game-changing global competitive educational program that has raised aspirations and performance of generations of the world’s problem solvers in the computing sciences and engineering.

Students from the UTSA Department of Computer Science placed 9th out of 71 teams across Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma at the 2018 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) South Central USA Regional Contest.

Dr. Mark Robinson, Assistant Professor in Practice of Computer Science, coordinated the logistics for hosting the competition at the UTSA main campus as well as volunteering as coach and mentor for the UTSA students. Robinson prepared the team with intense training and instruction in algorithms, programming, and teamwork strategy.

“[UTSA] placed 2 spots higher in ranking than last year,” Robinson said after contest results were announced. “Our student team also ranked #1 at this contest site, so we’re top team in San Antonio again!”