Battle of the Brains

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Journey through Regionals: Interview with Dr. Legand Burge, Howard University ACM-ICPC Site Director

December 13th, 2013

IBM offers colleges and universities access to the latest advances in analytics technology and business industry expertise. IBM’s goal through programs like the ACM-ICPC, is to inspire the next generation of business leaders to think differently about how technology can be used to transform business and redefine industries.

 

ACM-ICPC Regional qualifying contests are already underway in the United States and will continue through the rest of the month. Following the regional rounds, only 18 to 20 United States universities will be a part of the 120 elite three-person teams from around the world to advance to the World Finals. The final contest will take place June 22-26, 2014, and will be hosted by Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg, Russia.   

Through all of the hustle and bustle, Dr. Legand Burge, Howard University ACM-ICPC Site Director, took a break to share his insights on the ACM-ICPC and what it takes to run a successful Regionals contest.

Legand Burge, ACM-ICPC Site Director and Howard University Chair of the Systems and Computer Science Department


Adedeji: How long have you been involved with the ACM-ICPC and what are your major roles and responsibilities?

Burge: I’ve been involved in the ACM-ICPC since the late ‘80’s when I was an undergraduate student at Howard University. We have been hosting the competition here at Howard for over 40 years. As site director, I coordinate everything from making sure all teams are registered to ensuring all of the machines have the appropriate compilers or editors for the tools that the students use to write programs.

Adedeji: Could you tell us a little bit about some of the biggest surprises and challenges that you face with coordinating a competition of this caliber?

Burge: The main problems that every site director has is just making sure that the system stays up and running.  You’re talking about several computers and the network connection and everybody must be tuned to the same clock. We all have to stay on time.  When one site goes down, it causes the ripple effect within the entire region.  One of our major challenges is making sure that all the systems stay up.  Here at Howard, we do thorough testing, so we feel comfortable the day of. 

Adedeji: How can students here in the region get involved in the competition?

Burge: Most universities hold local programming competitions through their local chapters of the ACM.  From there, students are ranked and put together a top team. They open these local competitions not just for computer science students, but for any student in any major.  You can even have a graduate student on your team.  I think the main thing is if you’re interested, you should go to the chair of the computer science department and inquire about an upcoming programming competition. 

Adedeji: Thank you so much for your time! I will let you get back to running the show here today.