News about Dyalog

Sep 1, 2011

Programming Contest Winners

Grand Prize winner

Joel Hough
The University of Utah, Utah, USA

Joel HoughJoel is a computer science student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. He recently left his job programming manufacturing robots and building software servers to focus solely on his studies. Joel also participated in the Dyalog programming contest in 2010 where he came third.

Joel says, "Winning the First Prize in the Dyalog Programming Contest 2011 is fantastic news – this has made my day! When I'm not at school or entering programming contests, you'll find me neck deep in some code or hardware for one of my many side projects or learning yet another programming language. I'm always on the lookout for the next big thing I can work on, whether it is a phone app, a desktop manufacturing machine, or an online social game. Or some kind of robot - of course! My reaction to this year’s contest was different to last year. This year I really tried to embrace the APL way of doing things (as I see it, anyway). That means lots of fancy table operations and as few procedural elements as possible. I think I was quite successful, judging by the level of consternation I experienced during some problems before the epiphanies struck. I miss the Rosetta Challenges from last year, but I feel much better about the quality of my main event code this year since I was able to focus on it exclusively. I really like the spread of problems this year. They are quite different from what I usually work on and I enjoyed the novelty of them immensely."

You can meet Joel in person at the Dyalog '11 User Conference in Boston Oct 2-5 where he will receive his prize. He has also promised to give us a presentation on how he arrived at his winning solution and give us insight into some above mentioned epiphany moments he experienced in the process.


Second Prize winner

Yanqing Chen
Stony Brook University, New York, USA

Yanqing ChenYanqing is currently a 24-year-old PhD Student in Computer Science with research interests in computer theory at Stony Brook University. As a first year PhD student, he believes that he should try different topics in order to determine which will be the best for him, considering that his future research topics might be related with sentiment analysis and bioinformatics. Specifically, Yanqing has told us that he might focus on designing efficient and robust algorithms in setting up a sentiment evaluating system on news and blogs as well as RNA sequence structure prediction. Outside of studying Computer Science, Yanqing spends his free time playing basketball and piano. He also likes to bike and enjoys cooking.

Yanqing says, "I could hardly believe my eyes when I found the message about coming 2nd in the Dyalog Programming Contest - I never dreamed of winning such a prize. I first encountered APL two years ago when I helped some friends building up a financial application. But as a ‘theory’ person, I focused more on the essential algorithms of the model than languages and grammars. I let the fun of coding with APL slip away at that time—as what I did was only translating sentences from C to APL, which was an obviously boring job. In the beginning of August I heard about Dyalog APL programming contest from my friend Chao Xu. Xu is a talented undergraduate student at Stony Brook University. He is not only a thought-provoking math student but also an experienced coder. His interests in APL reminded me about my experience two years ago and I realized that I might have missed the elegance and beauty in the programming language itself. I learned a lot – but I had to learn really fast. I buried myself for several days reading related materials and I found it really addictive! Among these materials the book "Mastering Dyalog APL" was extremely helpful. By completing the exercises in this book, I gradually changed my way of thinking and hence got closer to the original mind-set of APL. The Competition is the best way to improve one's skills quickly - not only because the process of self-training makes you stronger, but also because the process of learning this way helps you to realize the gap between your opponents. Though I am not an expert in using APL, I'm willing to dive in further and enjoy more in the field. Thanks a lot to the contest! "

We hope that Yanqing will be able to join us at the Dyalog '11 User Conference in Boston. He is currently in the process of investigating if his schedule allows time, given that his Research Proficiency Examination takes place in the fall semester.


Third Prize winner

Elliot Way
Binghamton University, New York, USA

Elliot WayElliot is an 18-year-old undergraduate student going into his second year. So while he is currently studying computer science he doesn’t yet have any particular specialisation. He produced correct solutions to all of the tasks outlined in the contest including one of the better solutions to the 'patFind' task in Problem 2.

Elliot comments, "I'm delighted to learn that I managed to win Third Place. I first heard of the contest in May through an email from Binghamton Professor Eileen Head to the Computer Science listserv. I'd never heard of APL, or even array programming, so I entered the contest as a challenge to see how long it would take me to learn a programming language about which I knew almost nothing. Apparently not too long! Though it helped that the contest problems were varied and interesting, unlike 2010's dreary financial problems. APL, if nothing else, is a new interesting perspective from which I can view coming problems."

We hope that Elliot will be able to join us at the Dyalog '11 User Conference in Boston. He is currently in the process of investigating if his schedule allows him the time.