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North Texas High Schoolers Compete in the Fall 2016 Battle of the Brains: High School Programming Contest

For more than a decade, the UT Dallas Computer Science Department has been conducting a statewide “Battle of the Brains: High School Programming Contest.” The contest, which follows ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) style, is held twice a year at the UT Dallas campus with UT Dallas CS professors, Drs. Ivor Page and Jey Veerasamy, overseeing the contest. UT Dallas PhD students, Somdeb Sarkhel, Kevin Desai, and Zhuo Chen, were also in attendance helping present demos to the students in the morning, before the competition began.

dsc_0059The Fall 2016 programming competition was held on October 29th, 2016, with the State Farm Insurance sponsoring the event. Registration for the Fall’16 competition was free, thanks to the sponsorship. The contest drew more than 90 teams comprising approximately 300 high school students from all over North Texas, including teams coming from top schools in the DFW Metroplex, Houston and Austin.

The contest began at ten in the morning, following opening statements from Dr. Gopal Gupta. Subsequentlystudents adjourned to the computer labs to start the 40-minute practice portion of the contest. Immediately following the practice portion was the main contest that lasted three hours. Teams of up to three high school students completed simultaneous novice and advanced contests. Every team was given five to six problems to solve for both levels and was allowed to use only one of the UT Dallas’ lab computers. To solve the problems, the students used Java 1.7, minGW G++, and Microsoft Visual Studio C, C++, and C#. Integrated Development Environments (IDE) included minGW, Eclipse, and NetBeans. The contest utilized PC2 (Programming Contest Control system) for semi-automatic judging.

Below is the final list of winning teams for both the advanced and novice levels.

Advanced Level Winners Novice Level Winners
1. Richardson High School A1 1. Plano West Senior High School N4
2. St. Dominic High School A1 2. Lovejoy High School N1
3. Lovejoy High School A1 3. Liberty High School N1

We spoke to Henry Vo, a Richardson High School teacher and coach to the first place advanced team, “The students at Richardson High School are highly motivated to perform at their absolute best. They have spent countless hours going over programming problems from past competitions and various online sources. They have learned a multitude of algorithms and methods for solving these problems quicker and more efficiently.” He continued, “Our students work tirelessly with each other and help each other when they need assistance. No one on the team works alone, there is always someone who is willing to assist. “


The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,100 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,000 MS master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 86 faculty members, as of Fall 2016. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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