Once again, Rice University students placed highly at the annual IEEEXtreme event, hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
It was a great contest,” said IEEE advisor Joe Cavallaro. “I know that the problems were really challenging and I’m really pleased with how well the Rice teams did.”
IEEEXtreme is a global challenge in which teams of IEEE Student members—advised and proctored by an IEEE member, and often supported by an IEEE Student Branch—compete in a 24-hour time span against each other to solve a set of programming problems.
“The problems themselves are pretty challenging. Also, effective teamwork is challenging….you need to incorporate team members with different skills,” said physics junior Wei Wu. “Some are better at programming, some are better coming up with an algorithm, and some are better at detecting the mathematical structure of problems and assuring you the algorithm is correct.”
Senior Stephen Xia agreed. “I think the biggest challenge was the difficulty of problems; they were much more difficult last than the problems from last year. We placed much higher this year, despite having an aggregate score of around half of what we attained last year,” he said.
“I participated last year and it was rewarding. I want to see how one year of education has boosted by coding skills,” said ECE junior Caleb Lu. “The questions were way harder than last year, and it was really hard to stay fresh for the entire 24 hours.
Lu said that teamwork and perseverance were integral to the competition.
“Two of our teams finished in the top 10% in the US out of 196 teams (actually 5.6% and 9.1%),” said Cavallaro. “They finished also in the top 10% world-wide out of 1944 teams. It was a long 24 hour effort by all teams.”
Team “CircleBrothers” comprised of Lu, Xia and ECE junior Sihan Zeng was the top Rice team, and team “Jinkla” with Wu, ECE junior Jason Liu, and CS junior Keyan Chen were Rice’s second top finishers and also in the top 10% worldwide.
“The most challenging part is to come up with the appropriate algorithms to solve the problems, especially when efficiency is critical,” said team Liu. “This is a great opportunity to strengthen my algorithm and coding skills.”
“This is the second time we’ve done IEEExtreme,” said Zeng. “This is a great opportunity where we collaborate and try to get problems done as a team. We learned the importance of collaboration and effective communication.”
“Since this was a problem solving competition, I found that a lot of the algorithms and concepts I learned throughout my education here at Rice could be directly used to solve the given problems,” Xia said. “Concepts like dynamic programming, recursion, and graph theory were very applicable to the given problems.”