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Coding hat trick for the University of Pretoria
31 October 2017


The University of Pretoria has for the first time ever achieved a hat trick for all major programming competitions. The University was ranked first in the Standard Bank IT Impact Challenge, the Catalyst Coding Contest (CCC), and the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC). The leader in all three competitions was team AwesomeSource from the Department of Computer Science, with Ulrik de Muelenaere, Brent Walsh and Jacobus du Plooy.

The first round of the Standard Bank IT Impact Challenge was hosted earlier this year. Teams from various universities across South Africa participated in a four-hour contest. Students had to solve a number of mathematical and algorithmic challenges and were ranked according to the number of valid solutions and the efficiency of their code. The winning team of each university went through to the final round held in August in Sandton. Students were booked into a hotel where they had a weekend to solve a blockchain problem. Blockchain is the technology on which cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are based. Team AwesomeSource were ranked first among the top teams of all other universities. This was the first time that the University of Pretoria won the Standard Bank IT Impact Challenge since its inception 13 years ago.

The Catalyst Coding Contest is a European-based coding competition that celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2017. More than 2 400 participants from numerous international universities spread across 40 countries competed against each other. For the first time, the contest was also hosted at the University of Pretoria. Ten teams and individuals from UP participated. After four hours of intense coding, Ulrik de Muelenaere emerged as victor. Although participating individually, he beat all teams from the top European and North American universities.

The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is arguably the largest and most difficult international coding competition and has been going since 1970. The African and Middle East regional contest was held on 21 October 2017. More than 100 teams from across the continent competed, with 14 UP teams composed of students from computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Teams from the University of Witwatersrand joined their fellow students on the Hatfield campus. Three UP teams were ranked in the top ten. Throughout the competition a close head-to-head race between UP’s top team, AwesomeSource, and the University of Cape Town’s team, Dysfunctional Programmers, pumped up the adrenaline. During the last hour of the competition, the team score board was frozen so that teams were not able to see how far their competitors were. In the end, AwesomeSource won by solving seven of the eight problems, which is an exceptional result in the ACM ICPC.

The University of Pretoria would like to congratulate Ulrik, Brent and Jaco for their outstanding performance during the contests. Never before has any university won all three competitions in the same year. AwesomeSource will travel to Beijing next year for the ACM ICPC world finals where they will be challenged by the top programmers in the world. The Department of Computer Science encourages students from all walks of life to participate in next year’s competitions.



- Author Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology
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Last edited by Brumilda CarolsEdit
Team AwesomeSource from the Department of Computer Science