The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


Teams Win Top Spots at Regional Computing Competition

Teams Win Top Spots at Regional Computing Competition

Recently, three UT Dallas Competitive Programming Teams participated in the regional round of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC). Out of 73 teams hailing from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, UT Dallas teams placed second, sixth and seventh.

Competitive Programming Team
Dr. Page (left) with UT Dallas Competitive Programming Team members.

The second-place team consisted of senior Darrin Wiley, senior Terrence Park and sophomore Walter Han, all computer science majors in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

The UT Dallas Competitive programming teams have been competing in the ACM ICPC every year since 2001. Computer science professor Dr. Ivor Page is the longtime coach for the UT Dallas Competitive Programming Team. During each fall semester, Page holds biweekly programming contests in order to prepare students for the upcoming Regional Contest.

“Dr. Page is a great teacher,” Wiley said. “He’s really good about guiding us toward what we should learn in terms of coding, but also making us aware of the team dynamics — the competitions are also about problem distribution and time management.”

The competitions present real-life situations, a narrative, which requires teams to make a program that produces dynamic solutions – or a system that will find the correct solution regardless of the parameters or input.

“Think about solving for the length of one side of a triangle when you have two sides given,” Wiley added. “We aren’t trying to find the answer, exactly, rather we want to create an equation that will give us the right answer regardless of the measurements given. That’s what we do in the competitions, but with code.”

Wiley said that the reason he came to UT Dallas was for the competitive programming team. He competed in similar events during his time at Cypress Woods High School near Houston and wanted to continue in college.

“Our second-place team is actually composed of Cypress-area students. Walter and I went to high school together, and Terrance is from our rival school in the area. Terrance and I competed against each other in high school,” Wiley said.

Wiley will compete in one last event next year, and he hopes to take the top prize. 

Page said he can only remember one better performance in the past. In 2006, UT Dallas won the Regional Contest, and were subsequently invited to take part in the World Finals Contest to be held in Tokyo in March 2007.

“The team practiced arduously during the entire spring semester, solving previous World Finals problems,” Page said. “The UT Dallas team had come 14th in the world, third among US teams. It was a glorious moment, one that brought tears to my eyes.”

Advancing to next year’s finals would be nice, but Wiley said he has a lifetime of competitions ahead of him. He said he hopes to teach at either the high school or collegiate level and coach teams.