Battle of the Brains

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World Finals Kick-Off: Dr. Bill Poucher Shares Inside Scoop on What to Expect in St. Petersburg

May 21st, 2013


The ACM-ICPC didn’t become the world’s largest and most prestigious programming contest overnight. Luckily for us, we had the opportunity to connect with the individual most responsible for the contest’s evolution over the years. Podcast host Yinka Adedeji sat down with ICPC Executive Director Dr. Bill Poucher to give listeners an inside look into what’s in store for this year’s competitors.

Who do you want to take home the Worlds Smartest Trophy? Tell us via Twitter by mentioning @BrainBattleICPC or using the hashtag #ICPC2013!

**Photo credit: Ivan Romanov, Live Journal

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St. Petersburg Express

April 24th, 2013


All aboard the IBM-sponsored ACM-ICPC Express! Next stop, St. Petersburg, Russia, for the 37th annual Battle of the Brains World Finals. Each year the ACM-ICPC invites hundreds of students and coaches from around the world to a beautiful city for their chance to vie for the World’s Smartest Trophy. This year we are delighted to present St. Petersburg, Russia, as our contest host.


With nearly five million citizens, St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city, trailing only Moscow. Not only is the city a critical port along the Baltic Sea, but it is also a major international hub that is widely regarded as Russia’s most westernized city. In addition to the spoils of modern architecture and a rich history, visitors can look forward to beautiful weather, as the daily average temperature is 73˚F (23˚C) through the duration of their World Finals stay!


When booking your summer travel be sure to consider the many attractions that make this destination such a unique cultural hot spot. Guests will arrive in St. Petersburg during the “White Nights,” a period between late May and early July where the sun does not drop far enough below the horizon to create darkness at night. You can take advantage of the extra light to visit the city’s 2,000 libraries, 221 museums, 80 theaters, 62 cinemas, and 45 galleries and exhibition halls.


Whether you are interested in St. Petersburg’s illustrious music, film, and literature scene or you are just interested in checking out the city’s world famous history, there is something for everyone to enjoy. For a full list of World Finals activities please visit


As always, you can visit the IBM website for ICPC news and updates at You can also follow us on Twitter at and check out videos on our new YouTube channel at

World Finals, Here We Come: Doug Heintzman Helps Wrap-up Regionals 2012

December 14th, 2012

As we enter the holiday season and begin to wrap-up the regionals phase of the IBM-Sponsored ACM-ICPC, host Yinka Adedeji catches up with Doug Heintzman, Director of Strategy for IBM Software Group and Sponsorship Executive of the ICPC. Listen as he shares some competition insights and insider secrets for those moving on to the World Finals in St. Petersburg next year.

Check back for more podcasts with all the inside tips and tidbits from contest executives, past World Finals participants, and IT professionals. You can also brush up on practice problems and follow us on Twitter.

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Demoing Smarter Commerce in Poland

June 8th, 2012

Guest post by Anthony Blatner of IBM

While in Poland a few weeks ago, my team and I introduced students, faculty, and media to IBM's Smarter Commerce at the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).

As a WebSphere Commerce consultant and former Extreme Blue intern, I demonstrated for contest attendees the process IBM goes through to design and deploy a commerce solution tailored to each client's specific needs.  What I enjoyed most was being able to show how the theory and skills I learned in school and as an IBM intern could be applied to real-world processes – a tenet of the competition.

In addition to demonstrating how WebSphere Commerce operates, we also dug into the real power behind Smarter Commerce, which lies in analytics. We put Big Data on display and impressed students with the practical application of Big Data in Smarter Commerce.

As a recent Extreme Blue graduate myself, it was exciting for me to demonstrate IBM products and services to the talented group of ACM ICPC World Finalists.  The students are quick to understand the problems we are solving and are very interested in our methods and research.  They realize the need and usefulness of IBM's work, including how Big Data and  Smarter Commerce will play a role in their future career paths.

The ACM ICPC event is an important opportunity to connect with students and faculty alike – we are demonstrating for students future career paths and helping in their professional development.  The ACM ICPC contest was insightful and stimulating and Warsaw was a blast. I look forward to bringing new and exciting IBM demos to the contest next year!


How Does It Feel? Interview with ICPC 2012 World Champion Evgeny Kapun of Russia

June 6th, 2012

After an exciting week of technology, competition, and fun in Warsaw, Poland, St. Petersburg State University of Information Technology, Mechanics, and Optics (SPSU-ITMO) has emerged as champions of the 36th Annual IBM-Sponsored ACM ICPC. To end our 2011-2012 contest season, we found out first-hand from Evgeny Kapun of the SPSU-ITMO team what it’s like to win the World’s Smartest Trophy and what his future plans are.


Evgeny (second from left) proudly hoists the World's Smartest Trophy over his head at the ICPC Awards Ceremony

How did you get started in programming?

I started at the age of 7, when I got a computer and one of my parents' friends started to teach me. There were not many computers at that time in Russia, and parents shared computers to do work.  My first programming language was Visual Basic; then, at school, I started Pascal. I studied C++ and Java during my first year at SPSU-ITMO.

To be a good programmer, you need a very special vision and understanding of the world. You analyze the whole world as a logical system following certain laws, similar to a computer.

What do you study at SPSU-ITMO? Are you an undergraduate or a graduate student?

Our discipline is called 'Applied Math and Computer Science'. We study a number of disciplines like discrete mathematics, which is a theory for programming, and also math analysis.  I am now in my sixth grade of the University and nearing graduation.

I'm also working with Bertrand Meyer [a creator of Eiffel programming language and professor at SPSU-ITMO]. My goal is to develop a program that will help to check mistakes in all programs without a human having to do so. After graduating, I plan to enter a post-graduate/master’s course and continue to work on this topic during my post graduate course.

What kind of activities have you participated in that helped prepare you for the IBM-Sponsored ACM ICPC contest?

I participated in team programming contests at school, which are quite similar to ICPC in concept. I also participated in a number of Olympiads on mathematics and physics, including the Russian national finals of the Olympiad in Physics, in which I got second prize at the age of 15. All of that was very helpful in terms of preparation for ACM finals, and it was a great experience.  For this contest, we did two trainings a week, each of them is quite similar to real finals – even as long as five hours. In total, we spent around 15 hours of training a week.

How was your experience at ICPC 2012?  Was this the first time you advanced to the finals?

This was the second time I’ve participated in the World Finals, and both times my teams won medals.  The level of competition this year was very high.  Poland also took the championship very seriously, and this year’s contest was filled with many great cultural and educational programs.  I remember arriving and seeing the ICPC banner on the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. Overall, I enjoyed it.


Thanks for another great contest season!  Keep checking back for more interviews and updates on our podcast.  You can also stay up-to-date with us on Twitter @BrainBattleICPC.

Do you have what it takes to be World Finals champion? This year’s ICPC may be over, but you can start forming a team for regional competitions this coming fall.  Not a student?  No problem.  There are also many volunteer opportunities, such as judging and on-site IT support.  Visit the ACM ICPC website for more information on how you can get involved.

[Photo credit: David Hill, ICPCDigital]

A Quick Update on Smarter Commerce from the IBM Technology Showcase in Warsaw, Poland

May 16th, 2012

Recently, we welcomed podcast guest Craig Hayman to introduce students to the Smarter Commerce concept and how it will impact the future of the IT industry.  Now, students at the Battle of the Brains in Warsaw, Poland, are seeing it first hand  at the ACM ICPC 2012 technology showcase courtesy of IBM, featuring some of IBM's most innovative projects.

Students also had an opportunity to talk with early career programmers such as Anthony Blatner, senior e-commerce consultant for IBM.  We stole a minute with Anthony to explain his Smarter Commerce demo and fill us in on how he's liking Warsaw so far.


To learn more about IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, check out the IBM Smarter Commerce blog and twitter handle @IBMSmrtCommerce.

Tomorrow is the big day, World Finals 2012!  Keep an eye on our #ICPC2012 hashtag to get live updates, pictures, videos, and more from the contest floor.  Good luck to all of the teams!

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World Finals Memories and Live Updates from This Week’s #ICPC2012

May 16th, 2012

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IBM’s Doug Heintzman Talks World Finals Predictions and the Future of Technology

May 12th, 2012

Before he boards his flight to Warsaw, Doug Heintzman, Director of Strategy for IBM Software Group and Sponsorship Executive of the ICPC, takes a moment to catch up with podcast host Christine Guerrini.  Doug shares his insights on perennial favorites from past World Finals, as well as some of the amazing career development opportunities for the students this year, such as IBM's Tech Trek and interactions with early-career researchers and business executives throughout the week.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @BrainBattleICPC.  We'll be tweeting live from the contest all week, using the hashtag #ICPC2012.  You can also check out pictures and posts on the ICPC Digital website.

Safe flight to all the contestants!

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Transforming Businesses: Craig Hayman Shares Insight on IBM’s Smarter Commerce Initiative

May 10th, 2012

It's been more than a year since IBM unveiled its Smarter Commerce initiative, offering software and services to help companies transform their buy, market, sell, and service processes and more quickly respond to the demands of today's digitally transformed marketplace.  This new approach empowers companies with business analytics and data, creating a supply chain prepared for the unpredictable.

As computing continues to evolve, the next generation of IT leaders like those competing in the ACM-ICPC will begin to migrate to careers focusing on big data, such as Smarter Commerce.

Podcast host Christine Guerrini welcomes Craig Hayman, General Manager of IBM Industry Solutions, to talk about IBM's innovative strategies and solutions, and ways in which they function in businesses today.  He'll also share how students can learn more about Smarter Commerce at the IBM Technology Showcase at World Finals.


To learn more about IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, check out the IBM Smarter Commerce blog and twitter handle @IBMSmrtCommerce.

World Finals is only days away, so be sure to keep up with the latest updates on the ACM ICPC website. We'll also be tweeting live from the contest via our Twitter handle @BrainBattleICPC and the hashtag #ICPC2012.

To all our World Finalists, have a safe trip!

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A City of Champions: Dr. Bill Poucher Shares What’s In Store At World Finals in Poland

May 2nd, 2012

The ACM-ICPC has grown from a small, national contest to a global phenomenon attracting students from every edge of the globe.  ICPC Executive Director Dr. Bill Poucher has witnessed this transformation first hand, helping to shape and guide the contest over his decades of involvement.

Before Bill and the 112 World Finalist teams head to Poland, podcast host Yinka Adedeji sits down with Bill to find out what makes this contest so special and some of the spectacular events in store at the University of Warsaw.


What are you most excited about for World Finals?  Tell us via Twitter by mentioning @BrainBattleICPC or using the hashtag #ICPC2012!

**Photo credit: David Hill, ICPC Digital

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