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March 13, 2002

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   Doug Ramsey, (858) 822-5825 or


UCSD's Team (from left to right): coach Brad Calder with Jeremy Lau, Stefan Schoenmackers and Matthew Fedder.

Three Computer Science and Engineering students and their Jacobs School faculty advisor Brad Calder leave San Diego on March 20 for Honolulu, Hawaii, to represent the Southwest U.S. region in the finals of the 2002 Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest. The 26th annual competition culminates with the World Finals on March 23. (For details, go to

The IBM-sponsored contest gathers the world's brightest computer "jocks" for an all-out "battle of the brains." This year's preliminary regional contests drew more than 17,000 college participants (3,082 teams) from 67 countries on six continents. The Jacobs School team will face off against sixty-three others at the 2002 World Finals.

Each team consists of three students. Last November, undergraduates Matthew Fedder and Stefan Schoenmackers, and graduate student Jeremy Lau, took the top spot in regional semi-finals in Riverside, CA.. "This is the third year in a row that a team from UCSD has reached the World Finals," notes CSE associate professor Calder, who organized an intra-UCSD programming contest last fall that drew 60 competitors. "To get ready, Jeremy, Stefan and Matt have been training regularly since winning the regional championship—including full-scale dry runs over three of the last four weekends, on top of regular weekly meetings to discuss strategy."

Imagine completing a semester's worth of computer programming in one afternoon. That's what each team is expected to do. In Hawaii, they will be given nine complex, real-world problems, and a grueling five-hour deadline to solve them. 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 algorithms. Participants can program in one of three languages: C, C++, or Java. (The UCSD team is most comfortable with Java.). The team that solves the most problems correctly with the fewest attempts in the least amount of time emerges as the worldwide champion.

The UCSD team is getting financial support for its travel arrangements from The Dini Group (, which also sponsored the intra-mural tournament last fall.

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