Published: Oct. 20, 2004

Some of the best and brightest computer science students in the Rocky Mountain region will face off Saturday, Oct. 30, in an all-out "battle of the brains" contest of logic, strategy and mental endurance at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Association for Computing Machinery's International Collegiate Programming Contest, sponsored by IBM, is the oldest and largest programming contest in the world with 3,000 teams competing in 70 countries this fall.

More than 200 students will participate on 68 teams in the Rocky Mountain Regional competition, which will be held simultaneously in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Canada.

Thirteen teams, including three from CU-Boulder, will compete on the Boulder campus. The contest will be held in CU-Boulder's Engineering Center, room ECCR 1B54 and connecting rooms, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A practice contest will precede the competition on Friday, starting at 7 p.m.

The winning team from the Rocky Mountain Region will join 74 other regional winners in advancing to the World Finals in Shanghai, China, April 3-7, 2005.

CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Ken Anderson, site director for the Rocky Mountain Regional contest, said the competition fosters creativity, teamwork and innovation in writing software programs.

Contest rules call for students to work in teams of three to solve up to eight complex, real-world problems within a five-hour period, which is equivalent to completing a semester's worth of computer programming in one afternoon. Examples of past problems include finding the closest fire exit for every office on the floor of an office building, and determining which cards would best be discarded from a poker hand based on the value of the cards that remain in the deck.

Students collaborate with their teammates to write a software program, and test and debug it for each problem. The team that solves the most problems in the least amount of time wins. A 20-minute penalty is assessed for each incorrect answer submitted.

The contest was last held at CU-Boulder in 2001.