Return of the Battle of the Brains
The Battle of the Brains is back on.
A trio of Simon Fraser University students will head to Orlando, Florida this weekend to compete against the world’s brainiest students at the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) - also known as the Battle of the Brains - on Monday, May 30.
Wesley May, Andrew Henrey and Hua Huang, who won the regional competition in December, had been bound for Egypt for the world final competition in February. The event, sponsored by IBM, was cancelled after rioting broke out in that country prior to its staging.
While the SFU team had been practicing solving problems up to five hours a day, they’ve been keeping it up “in a less organized manner than we usually would,” concedes May. Besides the practice, the trio has been at work on individual and team practice contests online, making for a “well-rounded practice regime.”
May, for example, finished in the top seven per cent in the Yandex Open, an international problem-solving online contest. “I think we’re as confident as we would’ve been in Egypt – in other words, reasonably realistic,” he says.
When it comes to solving strategies, Henrey, a statistics whiz and grad student, handles the math end while computing undergrad May tackles the programming and Huang, a graduate student from China, handles the “tougher” programming.
“We have a good chemistry and a love for solving problems,” says May. Henrey admits to spending more time working on problems than he does on his homework.
There will be 300 students and 105 teams at the worlds – many from Eastern Europe and Asia, where the competition can be of near Olympic status. May expects they should finish in the upper half. “A top 30 finish would be very good,” he says.
The SFU team solved eight of 11 problems at the regional competition to beat out Stanford University.