This weekend: 32nd annual computing Battle of the Brains

Published 3 April 2008

The 32nd annual collegiate programming contest will take place this weekend in Alberta, Canada; one hundred three-person teams from thirty-three countries have qualified; twenty of the teams represent U.S. colleges

If you have nothing to do this weekend, here is an idea: The world’s most talented and creative information technology (IT) students will gather 6-9 April 2008 in Alberta, Canada for the 32nd annual World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) (unofficially known as the Battle of the Brains), which is sponsored by IBM. The competition will be hosted by the University of Alberta, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. One hundred three-person teams from thirty-three countries have qualified for the Battle of the Brains. The ACM-ICPC World Finals brings these teams together to solve eight to ten highly complex computer programming problems, modeled after real-world business challenges. The problems are designed to test students’ knowledge, endurance, and business acumen — key skills which are needed by global employers in the new IT workforce. Limited to only five hours, the teams need to demonstrate skills in a contest equal to a semester’s worth of curriculum. The team that solves the most problems correctly in the least time will emerge as champions, earning scholarships, bragging rights, and prizes from IBM. Many of these bright contestants will likely catch the eye of leading firms like IBM who are always looking for creative talent.

The United States has twenty teams participating this year, the largest representation from any country. China, the Russian Federation, and Canada are also represented by many teams from different schools. Warsaw University, the 2007 World Finals champions, will return in 2008. Also noteworthy, hosting school University of Alberta has been to the World Finals eight of the last ten years. More than 6,700 teams representing 1,821 universities from 83 countries competed in the fall Regionals competition this year, compared to 840 teams in 1997 when IBM first sponsored.