Tech

Filipino Students Win Big at International Programming Olympiad (Again)

Meanwhile, you were busy playing Magic The Gathering when you were their age.
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Last Saturday, six Filipino students joined Singapore’s foremost programming competition: the 21st National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI). Grade 10 students Dan Baterisna, Dion Ong, and Miko Surara; and Grade 12 students Franz Cesista, Kyle Dulay, and Andrew Ting were the among the top scorers of the Philippines’ own NOI back in February, and so were selected to represent the country in the Singaporean olympiad in March.

All six of them brought home medals. Baterisna bagged a gold medal, while Ong, Surara, Cesista, Dulay, and Ting all bagged silver. They joined the best of Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia at the awarding ceremony on the same day.

The NOI puts students through time trials to solve algorithmic and mathematical problems using coding and computer programming. The contest is a grueling five-hour marathon that consists of five tasks. Within that time frame, contestants must write a program that correctly and efficiently yields an answer to the tasks, given any set of input values, and within the constraints of the problem. So basically, these kids can do math real good and real quick by typing into computer machines.

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"It was a challenge," says gold medalist Dan Baterisna, who had been training and joining competitive progrmming contests throughout the past year. "Some of the brightest people in the the region were there." But in the end, the team's hard work paid off. "It feels great to be able to bring honor to the country, and to beat the Philippines's previous record in this contest. The fact that we all got medals adds to the feeling of participating as a team."

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Baterisna also feels that while competitive programming itself is still taking its first steps here in the Philippines, he is optimistic about how Filipino students are embracing technology overall and using it to solve problems. "I think the niche area of competitive programming is only in its growth stages. Computer science isn't a prevalent high school hobby compared to, say, mathematics; our own national-level contest had less than 200 participants this year. But from what I've seen, the wider range of young people harnessing technology to improve their condition is quickly spreading, since there are lots more organizations dedicated to encouraging young people to do so."

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But this isn’t the first such display of Filipinos’ world-class mathematical talents. The exact same thing happened last year: Six Filipino students flew to Singapore to compete, and all came home with medals (one gold, two silvers, three bronzes). Last year’s gold medalist, Robin Yu, was a trainer this time around.

If you or a student you know is interested in participating in competitive programming, visit the official website of the Philippine National Olympiad in Informatics.

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