Hall of Fame

CUHK Wins Silver in Prestigious Programming Contest, Best Result by Hong Kong Institution in 20 Years
Contestants Highly Sought after by Top IT Companies

The ACM Programming Team from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) came in eighth and was awarded a silver medal in the 36th Annual World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) held in Warsaw, Poland. This is the best result achieved by an institution from Hong Kong in the last 20 years. The team comprised three undergraduate students: Law Wai -hon and Hon Man-hin, both majoring in computer science, and Yuen Chak-fai, majoring in quantitative finance.


Established in 1970, the ACM-ICPC is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world. It is a multi-tiered competition with local, national and regional contests leading to the world finals. The competition attracts the best and brightest students in computing disciplines from around the world every year. It fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. This year, over 25,000 contestants from over 2,200 universities from 85 countries took part in the competition, of whom 112 teams were selected to compete in the World Finals. The CUHK team won eighth place and was awarded a silver medal in the finals, defeating teams from MIT, Stanford, CMU, Peking, Princeton, Moscow State, St Petersburg State, Tsinghua, Tokyo, and Taiwan Universities. It was just one place behind Harvard.


This is the second time that CUHK is ranked in the top 10 at the ACM World Finals. In 2000, the CUHK team was also ranked eighth and the current team coach Prof. Lau Lap-chi from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering was a team member at the time. The other two members of that year have since completed their master and doctoral degrees. One is now doing research at IBM in the US and the other is now working in the local IT industry. Having demonstrated excellent problem-solving skills and team work, students from the past CUHK programming teams have been highly sought after by top international IT companies. They have been employed by Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM and offered PhD fellowships by prestigious graduate schools including UC Berkeley, Brown, Maryland, Stanford, Toronto, UCLA and USC. Being the only graduating student on the team, Law Wai-hon has received an offer from Facebook and will assume a position in software engineering once he obtains his work visa for the US. Every past team member has contributed by passing on new techniques and knowledge to the new team every year.


CUHK is planning to promote a similar activity among high school and university students in Hong Kong by developing its own programming online judge server. There will be on-line programming contests for students to join and to submit their solutions. Free on-line tutorials will be provided to guide high school students to acquire programming and problem-solving skills.


The ACM world final contest pits teams against 12 complex, real-world problems, with a grueling five-hour deadline. For example, a flight will fly from one place on the earth to a destination. Every point in the flight path must be close to some airport so that emergency landing will be possible in case of accident. Contestants are required to design the shortest and safe flight path. This problem requires knowledge of geometry on a 3D-sphere surface to compute the shortest flight path. Contestants should solve as many problems as possible within five hours. They need to race against the clock, to remain calm and to build software systems that solve the problems without error. The champion of this year solved a total of nine problems. CUHK solved seven, including one which was solved in the shortest time and that won the University another award.


From left:
Prof. Benjamin Wah, Provost; Prof. Lau Lap-chi, team coach and Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Hon Man-hin and Law Wai-hon, computer science students; Yuen Chak-fai, quantitative finance student; Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor; Prof. Wong Ching-ping, Dean of Engineering; and Prof. Leung Ho-fung, Chairman of Department of Computer Science and Engineering, CUHK.