UNLV's computer programming team achieved second place in the regional Association for Computing Machinery programming contest at UC-San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 11, beating out rivals from over 20 Southern California universities and colleges, including UCLA, Cal Tech, U.S.C., Harvey Mudd, UC-Irvine, UC-Riverside, and UCSD.
A total of 35 teams competed; some schools sent more than one team. Only Cal Tech's Team One bested UNLV's sole team, consisting of computer science seniors Jeff Hantin (team captain), Frank Lofaro, and Bruce Schurter, who had been coached by Professor Laxmi Gewali of UNLV's computer science department. The top two teams will compete with other regional winners in the International Association for Computing Machinery programming contest, held in Philadelphia in February. This is the second consecutive year that UNLV and Cal Tech have gone on to compete in the international contest.
The competition, sponsored by Microsoft and AT&T, consists of teams of three students each, working with a single computer, to solve six problems in five hours.
Cal Tech's Team One beat UNLV by only 700 seconds at the regional contest, a "photo finish," according to team member Bruce Schurter.
Along with Professor Lawrence Larmore, the chair of UNLV's computer science department, the team drove to the La Jolla campus of UC-San Diego, where the regional contest was held. After a morning "warm-up" problem to get the contestants used to the system, the competition began at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. With the aid of computers, the team of volunteer judges was able to give the final rankings by 8:30 p.m.
"We need to aggressively pursue a final victory," said Gewali. "This will entail many more practice sessions between now and February. I will be requesting other faculty members, including Dr. Larmore, to help work with the team."