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Trinity students win national programming contest

Teams of Trinity Computer Science and Maths students scooped first, second and third place in the UK/IE Programming Contest out of over 150 teams from across the UK and Ireland.

The annual competition – held at several UK and Irish universities – aims to help universities select teams to attend the Northwestern Europe Programming Contest later this autumn. These competitions are designed to test students’ programming skills, problem solving and team work.

Each team comprises three students who try to solve as many problems as possible from a given problem set, using one computer.

Trinity Fellow, Professor Frank Stajano, said:

This was an amazing result. Out of all the 150+ undergraduate teams that took part, the top four places went to Cambridge and, of these, the best three teams in UK and Ireland are from Trinity!

In first place was the Triniceratops team, with Kacper Walentynowicz, Paweł Burzyński and Mariusz Trela.

In second place, team Treenity, with David Wärn, Jeck Lim and Zoltán Molnár Sáska.

In third place, team Me[♠]talci, with Dimitrije Erdeljan, Dušan Živanović and Vladimir Milenković.

Trinity teams hard at work during the contest

Kacper Walentynowicz, who captained Triniceratops, said it was a ‘one-of-its-kind experience to wake up as UK and Ireland Programming Contest Champion.’

Such competitions are normally very stressful, said Kacper.  ‘There are millions of things that can possibly go wrong during the competition and they usually prevent you from just having fun. However, this time everything went so smoothly for us that we didn’t feel uncomfortable at all (maaaybe at the very beginning only).’

Kacper and his peers – the Triniceratops team was Polish – have taken part in programming competitions before and found that it’s not all about winning.

It is not success that motivates you to push yourself but the pleasure of solving interesting challenges and stretching your brain.

That was also true this time – winning is cool, but if it was just about winning, I wouldn’t delve into programming. It’s just fun from the beginning till the end.

Other Trinity computer science students who took part, did well, said Professor Stajano, who founded the Inter-ACE and Cambridge2Cambridge cyber security competitions, the latter in collaboration with MIT.

Petar Veličković, Research Assistant in Computational Biology and Trinity PhD student

Trinity PhD student, Petar Veličković, a former competitor-turned-organiser, said that hosting the Cambridge site for the competition this year was challenging but very rewarding.

‘Cambridge has always been a worthy force in competitive programming, but such strong performance from a single College has never been seen before. In particular, Triniceratops should be highly commended for achieving a full score – 12 out of 12 problems solved,’ he said.

I am hopeful that our teams will repeat this outstanding performance at the Northwestern Europe regionals, which would qualify an all-Trinity team for the ACM-ICPC World Finals for a second year in a row.’

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