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Computer science team advances to World Finals

  • Warsaw Bound
    Warsaw Bound
    William & Mary's Team Gold (from left), Michael Christensen M.S. '12, Aaron Dufour '12, and Brett Cooley '13, who will be traveling to Poland in the spring to compete in the International ICPC.
    Photo credit to Saskia Mordijck

A team of student computer scientists will represent William & Mary at an international competition in Poland this May after racking up a College-best showing at a preliminary event in November.

The William & Mary Team Gold , comprised of Aaron Dufour ’12, Michael Christensen M.S. ’12 and Brett Cooley ’13— along with their coach, Deborah Noonan—were invited to compete in the World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC) after placing second in the regional competition. The three are students in William & Mary’s Department of Computer Science, where Noonan is an instructor.

Noonan explained that the regional contest was held at several sites, in order to accommodate the 166 teams competing. William & Mary sent two teams to the Christopher Newport University site. Team Gold won First Place On-Site among the teams competing at CNU and came in second in the ACM-ICPC Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes colleges and universities from North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Noonan said Team Gold’s second place was the strongest finish of any William & Mary team in the fifteen years that she has coached the team, earning them an invitation to the World Finals. Dufour, Christensen and Cooley worked together to submit correct solutions to four of the eight problems that comprised the challenge. A second William & Mary computing squad—Team Green—placed fourth on site and 55th overall in the regionals. Team Green members were Jeff Soosiah, Kevin Ji and Alex Valentin.

“I am proud that they will be representing us at such a prestigious international event as the World Finals,” said Virginia Torczon, professor of computer science and chair of the department. “Team Gold is the first William & Mary team to receive such an invitation. Placing second in the Mid-Atlantic Region is a big deal, too. Our team placed ahead of a number of schools with much larger computer science departments.”

When they go to Warsaw in May, the members of Team Gold will be going up against some of the best computer scientists in the world. They will be one of 110 teams competing in the World Finals. Noonan explained that World Finals team were culled from regional competitions across the globe, involving more than 8,000 teams from 2,000 universities and 88 nations.