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Bath student triumphs in programming contest

Robin Lee on a skateboard
Bath University’s Robin Lee in non-programming mode
Bath University’s press office reports that computing student Robin Lee single-handedly solved 9 out of 11 computing problems to win the first ever United Kingdom & Ireland Programming Contest (UKIEPC) held on Saturday 5th October.

Robin, a final year Computer Science degree student, worked alone during the five-hour contest which saw 55 teams in five locations – including Bath University’s East Building – compete in the marathon to solve various programming puzzles.

The event was held to test the teams before the Northwestern European Regional Contest, which will take place in the Netherlands in November. Teams from this will then go on to compete in the international competition organised by the Association of Computing Machinery in February next year.

Robin worked alone to crack 9 of the 11 programming puzzles to come first overall, with teams of three from Imperial College London solving 7 and 6 problems to come 2nd and 3rd. Bath put forward four teams in total and its Caught Jester team of Tristan Kemp and James Stanley came 9th overall.

“It’s a pretty spectacular result from Robin,” explained Professor James Davenport from the University’s Department of Computer Science.

“Each team, which can comprise up to three people, is given all 11 problems, one computer and five hours to solve them. So for the teams it’s a great test of team management. What usually happens is that one member writes the program while the others start thinking about how to solve the next question. But Robin had no-one else to do any thinking about the next question so he had to tackle everything by himself.

“So to beat all the other teams, including 22 teams from Imperial College in London, by such margin and with such clear blue water between him and runners-up is pretty unprecedented.”

Robin said: “The questions are generally more advanced than you’d see in a coursework or exam. I spent most of those five hours thinking or making notes on paper rather than typing out code. This is the first and last year in which I’ll have the opportunity to compete, but in future I hope to be able to write some problems for UKIEPC and contribute to the software used to administer these competitions.”

Professor Davenport hopes it’s the first of many programming and he already has plans to build on the UK contest. “My ambition is for the University of Bath to host the Northwestern European Regional Contest in 2016. That’s the University’s 50th anniversary year, so it would be a great event to put on during our celebrations in that special year.” has supported the event by sending UK teams to the European regional contest for past two years and will again be supporting Robin to be able to go to Delft for the regional contest in November.