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MIT crowned regional champs in battle of brains

MIT's team competes at the International Collegiate Programming Contest.
MIT's team competes at the International Collegiate Programming Contest.
Photo / David Hill

A team of MIT students was named regional champions--and placed second overall--in 32nd annual International Collegiate Programming Contest, held recently in Alberta, Canada. The IBM-sponsored competition, also known as the "Battle of the Brains", challenged students to solve a semester's worth of computer programming problems in just five hours.

MIT's team, comprising freshman Bohua Zhan, junior Xuancheng Shao and graduate student Andrew Lutomirski, was the only U.S. group to place in the top five overall.

Martin Rinard, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, coached the MIT team, which netted a gold medal for its performance.

Each team was faced with solving 11 computer-programming problems modeled on real-world business scenarios. Students were challenged to develop software code to determine the length of a city skyline, map the size and capacity of a new building design and provide support for an embedded neural network for cell phones.

More than 6,700 teams representing 1,821 universities from 83 countries competed in the fall regional competition this year, compared to 840 teams who competed in 1997 when IBM first sponsored it.

The first place winner overall, from Russia's St. Petersburg University Mechanics and Optics of IT, took home IBM prizes, scholarships and bragging rights to the "world's smartest" trophy.

This year's top 12 teams that received medals are:

  • St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics and Optics (GOLD, world champion)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (GOLD, 2nd Place)
  • Izhevsk State Technical University (GOLD, 3rd Place)
  • Lviv National University (GOLD, 4th Place)
  • Moscow State University (SILVER, 5th Place)
  • Tsinghua University, (SILVER, 6th Place)
  • Stanford University, (SILVER, 7th Place)
  • University of Zagreb, (SILVER, 8th Place)
  • University of Waterloo, (BRONZE, 9th Place)
  • Petrozavodsk State University, (BRONZE, 10th Place)
  • St. Petersburg University, (BRONZE, 11th Place)
  • Belarusian State University, (BRONZE, 12th Place)


A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 16, 2008 (download PDF).

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