My students are awesome (part 1): CS149s

So one of the coolest traditions at in Duke is CS149s. Officially, it’s called the problem solving seminar. Unofficially, it’s weekly preparation for ACM ICPC competition. Students work hard in this course: every week they work on a problem set consisting of old ICPC competitions or TopCoder. It’s no small part from this class that Duke has gone to the ICPC international competition every year but 1 since 1994 (something like that anyway…don’t quote me on that).

Coming to Duke for the first time and never having competed in ICPC myself, being handed the reins of this course was a little bit scary. But lucky for me I had two incredible TAs – Kevin Kauffman and Siyang Chen. They helped me a lot in understanding what kind of preparation would be important and I like to think that I helped them with the pedagogical approach to teach it. I definitely changed the course – I made topics more explicit, I required a minimum number of problems each week, and I added a new post-contest project.

This year, Duke continued its streak by placing first in its region. My winning team was Jie Li, Yuqian Li, and Joe Keefer. I would like to claim some partial credit for that, but I’m pretty sure it’s strictly their own natural awesomeness. What I am especially happy about is that every Duke team managed to get 3 problems this year – including teams with non-majors and folks in intro CS. Everyone worked this year and I think it showed.

Here pictures of everyone and more stuff about the competition.

The post-contest project we did was programming ants for the AI challenge. If you’re curious, click here to watch the 8 Ant AIs we had submitted duke it out in the Ultimate Ant Throwdown we had at the last day of class.

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