Athens gold for RU student
EAST LONDON - A Rhodes University student was part of a team which took a gold medal in an International Olympiad in Athens recently.
First-year Bachelor of Science (software development) student Nick Pilkington and three other South African students made up the team, said Rhodes University spokesperson Linda Burton yesterday.
The team was among 296participants from 79 countries taking part in the 16th International Olympiad in Informatics in Greece.
Richard Starfield of Wits University was the gold medal winner.
The other team members were Linden Loots of Stellenbosch University and Marco Gallotta of the University of Cape Town.
The Informatics Olympiad is a competition for young computer programmers which is held in a different country each year. South Africa was the host in 1997.
The participants need to demonstrate their ability to solve problems by writing appropriate computer programmes.
Each participating country sends a team of four students selected through a national competition.
"Just making the South African team is a tremendous achievement," said chairman of the Olympiad Committee, Peter Waker.
"The four who were sent to Athens were the top performers who came through a selection process that started with more than 12000 participants in the first round of the South African Computer Olympiad."
"The Olympiad was a very challenging experience and great exposure to what is happening out there in the programming field," said Pilkington.
"During both the two competition days we had to solve three problems within five hours and the emphasis was on fast and accurate programming which had to solve the specific problem in under one second."
The theme of the problems was based on the Greek gods - for example Hermes had to deliver a number of messages to different gods sitting in different cafes in Greece, but in a specific order.
"This was the hardest programming that I have ever had to do. Day one went really well for me and if I had sustained this I probably would have got a medal," said Pilkington.
The teams stayed in the Olympic press village.
"There was still a lot of Olympic glamour around and the Para-Olympics was starting as we were leaving. We could see the stadium all lit up at night from our rooms," he said.
The team got to see the sites of Athens during some free time, including going for a cruise on the Aegean and visiting the Parthenon.
Pilkington will now be involved in coaching next year's team which will visit Poland. - DDR