Hope College computer science students Timothy Lewis, a senior from South Haven; Joshua Kammeraad, a senior from Bethel Park, Pa.; and Shinnosuke Kondo, a junior from Zushi, Japan, competed recently in the 2013 ACM ICPC East Central North America Regional Programming Contest at the Grand Valley State University, one of four in the region.
During the five-hour competition they were able to write programs to solve four of the nine problems they were given, which was good enough to earn them 16th place out of 126 teams in the region and third place out of 23 at the site. The second-place team at the site also solved four problems, but was able to do it in less time (the tie-breaker). The top team at the site (second place in the region) solved seven problems.
ACM Programming Contests are very competitive. Teams spend a significant amount of time preparing for each competition, with some schools having local competitions to decide who gets to compete in the regional contests. Schools with a long and consistent history of competing seem to do the best. Since Hope hasn't had a team compete since the 1990s, the team was formed less than a month before the competition, and was only able to have a couple of practice sessions lasting only a few hours each, the students' performance in the contest was impressive.
The team's coach, Dr. Charles Cusack, told the students before the contest that they might be able to solve maybe as many as four or five, but that they should be happy even if they only solved one or two problems since it is not uncommon for well over half of the teams to solve no more than one problem. In fact, he agreed to buy them dinner if they got three correct. Apparently they were hungry:).