Russia Dominates Computer-Programming Contest

Candace Lombardi, CNET, April 14, 2006

A team of Russian college students has captured a top programming prize.

Saratov State University placed first, with four other Russian schools in the top 10 in the 2006 Associate for Computer Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC).

Seven of the top 10 teams were from Europe, and just one from the United States: MIT placed 8th, managing to solve 5 of the 10 problems in less than 14 hours.

The poor U.S. showing could provide new fuel for the debate over whether U.S. computer programmers lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to talent.

World finals for the 30th annual AMC-ICPC were held in San Antonio, Texas. Competitors were given 10 complex problems to solve within an allotted time by using computer programming.

The 10 problems (click here for PDF) challenged programmers to create software for everything from data decompression to origami. One problem asked programmers to design a structurally sound sculpture, restricted by the physics of a specific set of materials and specifications. Another challenged them to write a program that could instruct on how to assemble a clock with minute and hour hands, given a specific shaft speed and collection of gears.

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