Indian students are set for Informatics Olympiad

August 12, 2006 12:00 am | Updated March 22, 2012 01:38 pm IST

Meera Srinivasan

Team of four will be accompanied by two professors from Chennai

CHENNAI: A team of four students is all set to face problems at Merida, Mexico. But these are problems they are looking forward to solving.

Kshitij Bansal, Prateek Karandikar, Swarun Kumar. S. and Harpreet Singh will represent India in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) to be held in Mexico from August 13 to 20. They are now in Chennai, taking model tests for the contest.

The International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) is one of the eight Science Olympiads held annually for high school students. Participants from about 80 countries take part in the Olympiad every year.

Students are required to write algorithms for problems at the Olympiad. A typical problem would be to find the shortest route from point A to point B in a given layout of roads, with about 5000 intersections. "Such problems require good understanding of fundamental algorithmic concepts. It is not a school subject, though," Madhavan Mukund, professor at the Chennai Mathematical Institute, said. He and professor K. Narayan Kumar (also from CMI), will accompany the students to Mexico.

"They will have to solve three problems in five hours. The contest will be held over two days. They will be given six problems in all," Prof. Kumar said. Time management was vital, he said.

Though the contest is more than a decade old, India has been taking part only since 2002. In last year's edition of the event at Nowy Sacz, Poland, the four students from India won two silver and two bronze medals. This year, participants are aspiring for their first gold medal. Kshitij and Harpreet participated in the previous two editions of the contest.

The students were in Class Twelve when they appeared for the qualifying rounds of this year's contest. Now, Kshitij is a student of CMI while Swarun has joined IIT-Madras. Prateek is pursuing Mathematics at the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore and Harpreet is a student of IIT-Guwahati. "Though we learnt the basics of computer science in school, the problems we face at the contest are quite different," said Kshitij.

The Indian Association for Research in Computing Science (IARCS) the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) organise the Informatics Olympiad in India. The Zonal Informatics Olympiad was conducted in January. This year, 6300 students took part in this round, from which 230 qualified for the Indian National Olympiad in Informatics.

Twenty-nine students were later short listed for an intensive 15-day training camp in June. The final team was chosen at the end of the camp, based on continuous evaluation.

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