Battle of the Brains Brings Maryland Top U.S. Public School Honor

Results from the 33rd annual World Finals of the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) are in - and the University of Maryland has taken 20th place (tied with Stanford) - the best showing of any public university in North America.

The IBM-sponsored event - better known as the "Battle of the Brains" was held April 18-22 at KTH - The Royal Institute of Technology - in Stockholm, Sweden. Russia's St. Petersburg State University was the top overall winner. Three U.S. private universities were in the top 20 - MIT (7th), Carnegie Mellon University (12) and Stanford University (20). Stanford came out ahead of Maryland based on the time it took to solve the problems given all the teams. U.C. Berkley came in 34th. Duke and the University of Virginia got honorable mentions.

The world's brightest computer programming talent competed in the contest. More than 7,100 teams representing 1,838 universities went head to head this past fall during the Regionals portion of the competition, all vying for a top spot to qualify for the World Finals. A total of 100 universities worldwide were finalists invited to Stockholm.

Teams of three students were challenged to use their programming prowess and mental endurance to solve complex, real-world problems - a semester's worth of curriculum - in just five hours. Programmers tackled challenges from a variety of industries, such as developing a routing program to ensure secure business transactions over the internet, optimizing traffic flows, constructing a racecourse, plotting the most efficient route for a hospital helicopter and designing a Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation program. This contest gives collegiate computer programmers the opportunity to hone their problem-solving skills, using open standards such as Linux and Eclipse, which are being adopted by industries around the world. As the top winner, the world championship team from St. Petersburg State University of IR, Mechanics and Optics earned scholarships, bragging rights and prizes from IBM.

Finalists also heard from top IBM experts and analysts about IBM's cutting-edge research on cloud computing, green IT and gaming technologies, some of the most popular and exciting realms of human and computer interaction and communication.

The faculty coach of the Maryland team is Computer Science Professor Amol Deshpande. The three student contestants included: Alan Jackoway, Mitchell Katz, and Richard Matthew McCutchen.

These results provide further evidence that University of Maryland is one of the nation's leading institutions in computer science and computer engineering research and education, with particular strengths in databases, software and artificial intelligence (AI).

Published April 21, 2009