Programmers of UH Hilo

Local team competes in international competition

News Writer Nick Carrion

Photographer Bryson Fung

This month, a team of programmers representing UH Hilo competed in the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Competition (ACM-ICPC) at Brigham Young University-Hawai‘i in O‘ahu. UH Hilo, in the Pacific Northwest Division, and at the Oahu site competed against teams from Brigham Young, Hawaii Pacific University, and UH Manoa; UH Hilo ended up winning the Division 2 contest for the state.

UH Hilo ACM Team

The ACM-ICPC is a worldwide computer programming competition. According to UHH team member Ashley Fukuchi, the contest “emphasizes team collaboration, efficiency, and algorithm-based problem solving skills.” The O‘ahu round “was held as a qualifier for an international competition which will be held at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota,” Fukuchi said.

The victorious Division Two team consisted of Ashley Fukuchi, Stuart Kaneshiro, and Kyle Cannoles. Team members Matthew Brown, Reuben Tate, Bryson Fung, and Jordan Atwell also took part. (Full disclosure: Bryson Fung is the webmaster for Ke Kalahea.)

Tate describes how the contest unfolds: “The format of the competition is basically each team of three people work with one computer to program solutions to as many problems in the competition within five hours,” Tate said. “All the problems are given to us at the beginning of the competition and we can answer them in any order. Our solutions are checked by running them against the judges’ test input and output data.”

Teammate Kyle Cannoles further explained what it is like to compete in this event. “While five hours seems like a lot, it really goes by quickly while you’re competing. We can only use print sources while competing - no internet, no electronic devices. These factors make it somewhat difficult to do well. You will want to be prepared and confident and have as much experience in solving problems as possible before going in,” Cannoles said.

Cannoles also describes what fueled his passion for computer science in the first place.

“I first got into programming when I was a freshman at Waiākea High School,” Cannoles said. “One of my friends was playing a game and looking into ways to mod it. I thought it was really cool and wanted to join in on the fun. I bought a few books on programming and how to make video games and took a class that was offered my senior year of high school. From then, I knew that I really liked solving problems using computers.”

From modifying video games to participating in events like ACM-ICPC, some team members have made computer science their life’s work. Others like Fukuchi are relative newcomers. A chemistry major and double minor in biology and Japanese studies, Fukuchi’s interest in programming came after spending a few years in college. “I explored programming as a possible hobby during my junior year at UHH, after my friends who are computer science majors suggested taking an introductory course in C++ programming,” Fukuchi said.

When not competing, the programming team “meets year-round and also participates in other events and practice programming problems. We also fund-raise year round with LAN (Local Area Network) parties and tournaments,” Tate said.