The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


Comets Qualify for World Programming Competition

Comets Qualify for World Programming Competition

From left: Suraj Mathashery, Mike Nguyen, team coach and associate professor of instruction Bhadrachalam Chitturi PhD’07 and Evan Bailey

A team of three University of Texas at Dallas computer science students has qualified for the third consecutive time to compete in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) World Finals, held November 2023 in Egypt.

The students ranked 12th in the ICPC North America Championship in May 2023. The team scored higher than any other Texas university team and finished alongside teams from the nation’s top-ranked computer science programs — ahead of the University of California, Berkeley and one spot below Harvard University.

The UT Dallas team – Whoosh – includes junior Suraj Mathashery and seniors Evan Bailey and Mike Nguyen.

ICPC competitions task students with designing and implementing algorithms to solve 10 to 15 increasingly challenging problems in five hours. Success requires expertise in problem-solving, advanced algorithms and data structures, mathematics, abstract thinking and programming languages.

The students on UTD’s team, one of few to answer eight or more questions in the national competition, prepared by competing in weekly competitions through Codeburners, a student organization dedicated to programming competitions, said Bhadrachalam Chitturi PhD’07, the team’s coach, ICPC site director at UT Dallas and associate professor of instruction in computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“They had good math backgrounds and were very serious,” Chitturi said. “They started working together slowly, and they gelled.”

In fact, Mathashery and Bailey, both National Merit Scholars, also competed on a separate UT Dallas Putnam Club team in December 2022 that ranked No. 32 among 456 university teams in the 83rd annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, considered to be one of the world’s most challenging mathematics competitions.

“Supporting the Codeburners will continue to be important to UTD’s success in future ICPC seasons,” Bailey said.

The students advanced from regional and national competitions. Whoosh was the lone team to advance from the South Central USA competition, hosted by UT Dallas, in February 2023.

“We practiced often as a team to establish good teamwork and cooperation during the competition,” Mathashery said. “We have a wide range of skills among the three of us that enabled us to solve a majority of the problems.”

One of the keys to competing so well was determining how to leverage each other’s strengths.

“I believe that one of the most critical factors that contributed to our success in the national competition is the fact that each member of our team solved the problems that are closely related to their strong suit,” Nguyen said.

A version of this story appeared in News Center.