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Computer programming contest challenges students’ problem solving abilities

March 21, 2019—Datasets, integers, input specifications, output specifications. These are some of the terms students participating in a computer programming contest need to be familiar with.

Students from Eastside Secondary School and Prince Edward Collegiate Institute worked through programming challenges in the Boardwide Programming Contest on March 21, 2019. It is the first level of competition organized by the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO).

This event challenges and inspires students to take on problems that exceed the expectations of high school Computer Science courses. Unlike traditional academic contests which have students compete individually, this programming competition requires students to work together as part of a team in order solve a series of challenging problems. It means that organization and communication skills, in addition to computer programming skills, can factor into success in the competition.

As for the contest itself, each team of four students has 3 hours in which to attempt to solve a series of four challenging computer programming problems. To make it even more interesting, each team is only permitted a single computer to work on, which means that organization and time management skills will also come into play.

The problems themselves are very much logical in nature and are drawn from a variety of subject areas, including mathematics, physics and cryptography (breaking codes).

For example, the following is from a previous contest:

The Interlace Cypher is a method of encrypting text by scrambling the letters in a message. The letters are rearranged so that the original words are interlaced by alternating letters from each word (e.g. the first letter from each word, followed by the second letter from each word and so on). Then the resulting letter set is broken up into “words” that match the lengths of the words in the original message, such as this:

Original text: the interlace cypher

Encoded text: tic hnyetpehr elrace

Based on the description provided, the teams of students need to write a computer program that can decode messages that have be written using this cypher.

Solutions to the problems are tested using multiple sets of data. Points are earned for correctly solving the problem, and bonus points are earned based on how much time is remaining in the contest, so teams that are able to come up with a solution faster will earn more points.

More information about the contest is at the ECOO website.

The top three finishers will be invited to represent HPEDSB at the Eastern Ontario Regional Programming Contest to be held at Queen’s University on April 27, 2019. This regional competition draws in teams from Ottawa, Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall in addition to teams from HPEDSB. The top teams from this regional contest then proceed to a provincial competition held in Toronto in May 2019.Computer Programming Competition

For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 62354, [email protected]

Last updated: March 26, 2019 at 2:53 pm