Feature Story

OWU Programming Contest Challenges Computer Scientists

March 30, 2014 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan students Kieran Smith (left), Cameron Burger, and Ariel Koiman participated in the recent OWU Programming Contest, earning a fourth-place finish in the event. (Photo by Sean McCulloch)

When the old lady who lives in a shoe takes her children out for a day on the town, she needs to know exactly where to stand to best keep track of her boisterous brood. And when Daring Dan finds himself trapped on an alien planet, he needs to know exactly how long he and his trusty blaster can fend off a ravenous space amoeba. Will help arrive in time?

Ten teams of computer programming students from six Ohio colleges and universities gathered March 22 at Ohio Wesleyan University to answer these and other challenging questions created by Sean McCulloch, Ph.D., an OWU associate professor of math and computer science.

The students – from Ohio Wesleyan, Denison University, Baldwin Wallace University, Muskingum University, the University of Akron, and the University of Toledo/Lorain County Community College – were participating in the 8th annual OWU Programming Contest.

The event is “the fourth and final event in the unofficial ‘programming contest season’ that has two contests in the fall (Muskingum, and the regional competition in Cincinnati), and two in the spring (Denison and Ohio Wesleyan),” said McCulloch, who also administers and judges the OWU event.

He created six questions for the OWU Programming Contest and gave teams four hours to solve as many problems as possible. The teams were required to read the test data from standard input and write results to standard output. They were permitted to use the programming languages are C, C++, and Java.

Ohio Wesleyan’s team consisted of seniors Cameron Burger of Great Falls, Va., and Ariel Koiman of Winnetka, Calif., and freshman Kieran Smith of Beavercreek, Ohio. The team – known as the Summoners of Malloc – garnered fourth place in the competition.

Koiman says the name was chosen after the group received a “Malloc has been summoned” notification while working together. Malloc is a term tied to memory allocation in the C and C++ programming languages.

Learn more about the OWU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at https://www.owu.edu/academics/departments-programs/department-of-mathematics-and-computer-science/.