Battle of the Brains

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World Final On-Site Interview with Jeff Jonas

July 2nd, 2013

jeffjonasibm.jpgJeff Jonas, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics Group. As one of the world's leading Big Data experts, Jonas was an ideal choice to speak to students at this year's ICPC, as Big Data is the theme of this year's contest.

After giving the keynote speech at the IBM Tech Trek, Jonas sat down with Chas Kurtz to discuss Big Data.

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Inside ICPCNews with Jeff Donahoo

June 24th, 2013

"Battle of the Brains" host, Chas Kurtz, sits down with ICPC Deputy Executive Director, Jeff Donahoo, who shares insight on the ICPC and how to follow the contest for those who can't make it to St. Petersburg next week.


Follow #ICPC2013 live at!

Thanks to our listeners for tuning in. As always, you can visit the IBM website for ICPC news and updates at

For those of you headed to St. Petersburg, please visit for more information about World Finals, including the event schedule and practice problems. In the meantime, keep practicing and good luck!

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Why do I go to the ACM-ICPC World Finals?

June 17th, 2013

By Ivan Romanov, Guest Writer

We are thrilled to share the ACM-ICPC success story of Ivan Romanov, who has leveraged his experiences at the contest to expand his professional network, portfolio of work, and more. Here's Ivan's take on why he's attended the World Finals five times.

I have been to the ACM-ICPC World Finals five times already, and never in the same role. I'm going to share with you my reasons for visiting this event over and over again and my different roles each time.

My first time at the World Finals was back in 2002. At that time teams at World Finals were allowed to have on-site reserve participants with them, and I was honoured to accompany the first-ever team from Saratov State University that made it to the Finals held in Hawaii, USA. That was a legendary team of Ilya Elterman, Andrew Lazarev and Mike Mirzayanov, named Saratov SU#3. They became European Champions, won silver medals and became the biggest sensation and surprise of that Finals.

More than three years passed before my team qualified for the World Finals. It was our very last chance to show a good performance, since me and my teammates Roman Alekseenkov and Igor Kulkin were reaching the maximum age for ACM-ICPC participants. Luckily, we used that chance fully. Instead of describing the emotions, I'll just show you the picture from the 30th Finals hosted by Baylor University.


After graduating I led the development of Code Game Challenge - a fun competition that we first hosted during Saratov Subregional contest 2006. Mike Mirzayanov and I were cordially invited to the Finals 2008 in Banff, Canada, to present the Code Game Challenge at the Competitive Learning Institute (CLI) led by Bill Booth. I'm happy that many years later, the game strategy for 2013 ICPC Challenge has been developed by the team from my University.

People whom you meet at the World Finals make visiting the event a really great and rewarding experience. Here is Roman Elizarov, World Finals 2013 Director, in Banff in 2008.


Winning the ACM-ICPC World Finals in 2006 gave me a great opportunity to work for IBM. As a part of IBM TechTrek team I was pleased to showcase two technologies developed at IBM Zürich research lab. That was in 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden, and it was again a completely new role for me at Finals.

In 2012 in Warsaw, Poland, I tried a new role of being a spectator at the World Finals. Every role has its pros and cons. Being just a spectator, I slept in the cheapest hostel next to the contestants' luxury hotels, but for that I enjoyed more freedom there. I also enjoyed ACM-ICPC events becoming more and more spectacular.


For me, it's really easy to remember when St. Petersburg NRU ITMO became World Champions over the past six years. ITMO always won during my last three visits (2008, 2009, 2012) and never won when I could not come to the World Finals (2007, 2010, 2011).

This year's World Finals takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia. It's not a question of whether I go or not, but which role should I try this time?

Check Out Our New YouTube Channel!

May 22nd, 2013


**Photo credit: Mashable

Did you know we launched the BrainBattleICPC YouTube Channel this spring? If not, be sure to check it out! We'll be updating it throughout the year with exciting new content involving ICPC and IBM initiatives.

Six videos have already been added to the site:

  • ACM-ICPC IBM Recruitment
    • IBM's sponsorship commitment to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is part of a company-wide effort to advance the next generation of technology leaders and problem solvers who have combined skills of computing science and business management.
  • Top Coders
    • Top Coders from across the globe discuss computer programing and their experiences at the IBM-Sponsored ACM-ICPC World Finals.
  • ACM ICPC Finals 2012
    • The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) traces its roots to a competition held at Texas A&M in 1970 hosted by the Alpha Chapter of the UPE Computer Science Honor Society. The idea quickly gained popularity within the United States and Canada as an innovative initiative to raise the aspirations, performance, and opportunity of the top students in the emerging field of computer science.
  • IBM Mobile Business: More Than Devices, It's The Data Between Them
    • Mobile business is more than devices, it's what you can do with the data in between them. The mobile world is open for business.
  • IBM Social Business: New Ways of Working
    • Social business means new ways of working. It's a production line of knowledge that never stops building. How social is your business?
  • IBM Big Data and Analytics: Make Right Decisions More Often
    • Big data and analytics can help predict trends down to the customer. Sales down to the shelf. What can big data and analytics do for you?

As always, you can visit the IBM website for ICPC news at For the latest ICPC updates, visit the official contest site at And don't forget to follow us on Twitter at!

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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