25 November 2020
By Hans-Wolfgang Loidl, Heriot-Watt University
The series of SICSA Programming Challenges, started during lock-down in June 2020, is continuing
and featured a Scotland-wide, SICSA-funded challenge, called “dynamic Denning”, on Wed 21st of October.
As before, a sequence of programming tasks was posted on the OpenKattis platform which provides a huge repository of online problems, and performs automatic scoring of challenges submitted by students. As many of these platforms, it markets itself as a tool for preparing for technical interviews and honing programming skills, thus it is highly relevant for computer science students, who will be entering the job market soon.
The event attracted about 50 students and about 40 of these students submitted at least one correct solution to the challenge tasks posed. Four students in total managed to solve all six problems in the time available. Remarkably the top student only needed 102 minutes to complete all tasks, during the five hour duration of the challenge. The highest scoring student was a student from the University of Edinburgh. The second highest score was achieved by a student from the University of Glasgow. This makes it a 2-0 for Edinburgh vs Glasgow in the series of SICSA Programming Challenges. Students from at least six Scottish universities participated in this challenge.
Overall, the event was a great success, judging from the feedback the students have been giving in post-event surveys: 100% of the students answered Yes to the survey question “Would you be interested in participating in a similar challenge again?”
After running two SICSA-wide challenges, we now have an organising team from six different Scottish universities in place: Dr Hans-Wolfgang Loidl, Dr Rob Stewart (Heriot-Watt University), Dr Vesselin Velichkov (University of Edinburgh), Dr Chris Brown (University of St Andrews), Dr Jeremy Singer (University of Glasgow), Dr Carron Shankland (University of Stirling), Dr Paul Keir (University of the West of Scotland), and Dr Adam Sampson (Abertay University).
We encourage other academics to get in touch in order to grow the effort and expand the base of potential participants. We plan to build on the success of this challenge and run more SICSA-wide instances of this programming competition during this academic year, and in face of an ongoing lock-down situation to possibly grow this into a UK-wide event. Our thanks go to SICSA for funding the prize money for the winners of the event and for promoting this event.
More information on the programming challenge is available on this web site.