Students Head South to Compete in ACM Regionals

Writer(s): Jesica E. Hollinger

Competition Update: Team Newbee Explode shined brightly, coming back to Purdue with an impressive third place! Team Steins, Team Gate and Team Boilers also ranked among the 10 best. [Caption: Teammates poses with their prizes after the competion. Winners can be viewed at

Four Purdue programming teams are heading south for the annual ACM Regional Programming Contest in Cincinnati, SaturdayTeam Newbee (Oct. 31).

Coach Gustavo Rodriguez-Rivera (CS Continuing Lecturer) will lead the fifteen students off to battle, as they commence to wage war with other university students, in hopes of seizing the top spot in the programming contest.

Coach Rodriguez-Rivera says he is inspired by the team’s enthusiasm and feels fortunate to be leading the students to the regional completion, where they will hone their programming skills in a fun, yet challenging environment.

“The students inspire me with their energy. I think competitions like this open up a new world for our students, where they get to meet students from other universities and be challenged by other bright and talented programmers,” said Gustavo.

The top three teams will advance to the ACM International Collegiate Programming World Finals. The world finals will be held in Phuket, Thailand May 2016.

The five teams representing Purdue are Steins; Gate which includes teammates Ge Yan, Yibo Gou, and He Huang; Newbee Explode which includes Yao Xiao, Zhaosen Wany, and Chengyuan Lin; DROP TABLE with teammates Ashish Malik, Yuhao Lu, and Austin Schwartz, and the fourth team - aptly named Boilers - includes members Avi Rakesh, Paul Heldring, and Liu Chengming.      

The reserve teammates include Hunter Allen and Brian Hays, who are on standby if needed. The driver of the chariot leading the warriors to battle is Cody Phrampus.

Students participating in the contest are enrolled in the Competitive Programming course taught by Rodriguez-Rivera, which meets weekly for discussion and practice sessions. The students work on algorithmic and mathematical puzzles whose solutions are expressed in the form of computer programs. The goal is to solve as many problems as quickly as possible while avoiding inaccurate submissions.

The ACM Programming Contest is a five-hour event in which teams of three students work together to solve eight to ten programming puzzles. Ranking among teams is first based on how many problems are solved correctly, then on how many minutes it takes to solve each problem. A 20-minute penalty on solved problems is added for each submission that fails to pass the judges' test cases. Programming is done in Java or C/C++.