Saarland University computer science students win national preliminary round in international programming competition
In the German preliminary round of the international programming competition known as the International Collegiate Programming Contest, 123 teams from eleven German universities competed. The challenge of the German Collegiate Programming Contest (GCPC) consisted of solving 13 complex programming tasks in just five hours. Julian Dörfler and Jasper Slusallek from Saarland University were the only participants to complete twelve tasks, and thus secured first place. Hence, the two Saarbrücken computer science students have secured a place in the next higher elimination competition, the Northwestern European Regional Contest (NWERC). The location for the World Final will be announced in August.
On a Saturday in the middle of June, from 11am to 4pm, 123 teams from eleven German universities took on 13 tasks and submitted their programs online for automatic evaluation. The German Collegiate Programming Contest (GCPC), this year organized by the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, is the first round of the annual International Collegiate Programming Contest, ICPC for short.
“At the national round of the programming competition, no official selection is made. Therefore it is a good opportunity to compare yourself with the other teams from all over Germany. For the next round, the Northwestern European Regional Contest, only two to three teams per university are allowed. That is why the universities are using the teams’ performance at the GCPC to decide who should play in the next round,” Jasper Slusallek explains the role of the German programming competition, which he has now won together with Julian Dörfler. Both study computer science with a minor in mathematics at Saarland University – Slusallek in the second semester and Dörfler in the sixth semester – and both started solving programming tasks under time pressure and competition conditions in their youth. “I like the tasks. They are complex and therefore not solvable by mindless programming. Instead, we have to come up with efficient computing strategies by ourselves,” Julian Dörfler describes his fascination with the programming competition. “And of course it’s awesome to read your name at the top of the competition board.”
To win this year, Dörfler and Slusallek had to handle 13 tasks. The programming missions ranged from the efficient looting of a high-security planet, to training optimization for superheroes, to the calculation of the average height achieved by backpackers in the Chilean Andes without freezing to death. “The evaluation includes how many tasks the students solve, how much time they need and how often their programs fail,” explains Julian Baldus, who trains and manages the Saarland University teams. This year, three teams competed on behalf of Saarland University. The Saarbrücken computer science students Marian Dietz, Simon Schwarz and Florian Bauckholdt won eighth place; Nicolas Faroß, Nico Gründel and Jannik Kulesha won 36th place.
In the competition, up to three students compete as a team. They must not have studied more than five years and have to solve between eight and 13 programming tasks on a common computer within five hours. As programming languages, C, C ++ and Java are available. They send their programs online to a service computer, which uses special input data to check whether the programs are working correctly. So the teams receive feedback within a few seconds.
History of the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC)
The ICPC started in 1970 as a regional competition of an American university in the state of Texas. Seven years later, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a scientific society for computer science, took on the competition and has since hosted it internationally, supported by the American IT and consulting firm IBM. Last year, around 50,000 students from 3098 universities and 111 countries took part in the regional elimination competitions.
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