‘Battle of the Brains’

Ohio Wesleyan computer science students take part in regional competition

OWU seniors and married students Brooke and Andy Coder and Nat Milder (in yellow shirt) placed 38th in the regional Battle of the Brains computer programming competition. They competed against all schools in the East Central North America region. (Photo courtesy of Sean McCulloch)

Two teams of Ohio Wesleyan University computer science students pushed their brains to the limits, applying their programming skills and maintaining their mental endurance to solve complex, real-world problems under a grueling five-hour deadline in the annual regional Battle of the Brains competition.

Tackling these problems is reportedly equivalent to completing a semester’s worth of computer programming in one afternoon. This was the 35th annual IBM-sponsored Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest, or Battle of the Brains, held at the University of Cincinnati. The world finals for this competition will be held in March in Egypt.

“Students are selected from our advanced computer science classes,” says Sean McCulloch, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and computer science, who accompanied members of the two OWU teams.

OWU students Zeal Jagannatha (from back left), Vagif Baratov, and Alex Kessler also competed in the Battle of the Brains competition. (Photo courtesy of Sean McCulloch)

Participants were seniors Brooke and Andy Coder of Delaware, Ohio; senior Nat Milder of Gaithersburg, Maryland ; junior Zeal Jagannatha of Delaware, Ohio; senior Vagif Baratov of Ankara, Turkey; and first-year student Alex Kessler of Andover, Minnesota. Alan Zaring, Ph.D., professor of computer science, also helped to advise the students, but was unable to attend the competition.

The team of the Coders and Milder placed an impressive 38th in the contest.

“They’re on their own for the whole contest,” McCulloch says. “Afterward, I help analyze their performance, telling them the right way to do the problems.”

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science will host its annual OWU Programming Contest for area schools here in March.

See results from the regional Battle of the Brains competition on October 23.

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