NMU Wildcat teams take top three spots in programming event

Teams from Northern Michigan University have placed well in the recent MMU Invitational Programming Contest. From left are Ryan Salo, Nate Santti and Chris Lodge, members of the winning team, the Immutables. (Photo courtesy of the NMU Mathematics and Computer Science Department)

MARQUETTE — Teams from Northern Michigan University swept the top three spots at the 20th annual NMU Invitational Programming Contest on Saturday at NMU.

“This is the first time in the history of the event that NMU has swept the awards,” said Andrew Poe, Ph.D., a professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department who was in charge of the event. “We are very proud of this, but we are also very proud of the wonderful performance by the other teams at the event. It was very exciting to watch.”

The Immutables, whose team members were Chris Lodge, Ryan Salo and Nate Santti, took first place, followed by the Bistromathics, whose team members were Anna Martin, Robin Moriarty and Jesse Schalk. Wilson Kneiszel, Zach Loman and Damon Palovaara made up the third-place team, the Loners.

The top three schools in the competition, in order, were Northern Michigan University, Lake Superior State University and Michigan Tech University.

Poe said the event marked the 20th running of the competition.

“It’s designed for schools in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to send some teams over and to look at some interesting problems and see how many problems they can solve in a five-hour period,” Poe said.

Previous problems have involved what he called “strange computations of things.”

“Some of them have involved word games,” Poe said. “One year, one of the problems had to do with sudoku.

“We try to have problems covering all kinds of different areas of computing.”

However, there was a time limit.

Students have five hours to solve as many problems as they can among six problems offered, Poe said.

If a problem is solved correctly, the team earns a point, he said. If a solution is incorrect, it gets a small penalty but may try again.

Teams from throughout the region planned to take part, Poe said, including the University of Minnesota-Duluth as well as Bay College in Escanaba, the University of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and the University of Debrecen in Hungary.

Poe, who acted as judge for the event, said the idea for the competition sprung from the international ACM Programming Contest, run by the Association for Computing Machinery. The local competition was started in 2000 as a way to provide a form of practice for that ACM contest.

“We wanted the U.P. teams to do well at the ACM contest, but now we have teams coming from outside the U.P., so it’s become its own event, really,” Poe said.

Santti, a member of the Immutables, enjoyed the experience.

“I think it is fun to participate, because you get an opportunity to use the skills you’ve learned,” Santti said. “It also is a good opportunity to work with other people to solve challenging problems as a team.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.


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