The University Record, December 17, 1996

EECS students wipe out competition in programming contest

A team of graduate and undergraduate students from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) took first place in the East Central Regional Programming Contest sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery earlier this fall.

David Thaler coached the team of Randy Ho, Kurt Steinkraus and Andrew Thaler. David Thaler and Ho are graduate students in computer science and engineering; Steinkraus is an undergraduate computer science major and Andrew Thaler is an undergraduate majoring in computer engineering. The team's faculty advisor was Larry Flanigan, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Sixty-three teams from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario competed in the five-hour contest held at the University of Notre Dame. Other major universities participating included Carnegie-Mellon University, Michigan State University, the University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University and Purdue University.

Each three-person team was given seven problems to solve using a single computer. Tasks ranged from solving word-search puzzles to working out complicated geometry problems.

The University of Waterloo, first-place winner in the last four contests, was favored to win, but the Michigan team took an early lead, finishing their first problem in just 15 minutes.

Teams were ranked first by number of problems solved and then by elapsed time. By the end of the contest, the Wolverines were the first of only three teams to complete five of the seven problems, ensuring them a spot at the international finals in San Jose, Calif., next spring.

This is the first time in the five years Michigan has participated that the Wolverines have taken the title.