News about Dyalog

Dec 12, 2013

2013 APL Programming Contest winners

Dyalog is delighted to announce Yanqing Chen as the Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 APL Programming Contest

Yanqing Chen, a PhD student major in Computer Science at Stony Brook University, USA has been awarded the Grand Prize for the 2013 APL programming contest. It is the second time that Yanqing has participated in the programming contest and in 2011 he achieved 2nd Prize. Yanqing completed his 3rd year of his PhD studies, this summer, doing research with Professor Steven Skiena on multilingual sentiment analysis.

His Grand Prize consisted of a cash prize as well as a round trip to Florida where he attended the Dyalog ’13 User Conference in October 2013, with all expenses paid.

The judges' reasons for awarding the Grand Prize to Yanqing are as follows:

"Yanqing's entry contained code that was very modular, well documented, and ran efficiently. The code demonstrated array-oriented thinking and made good use of operators."

Yanqing said "I first got to know APL in 2009 when my friends tried to build a financial model. At the time, APL seemed to me to be a strange - but impressive language. The code contains many symbols that cannot even be found on a standard keyboard, which can make it a bit harder to understand. Two years later my friend Chao Xu introduced me to APL again, as well as the Dyalog APL programming contest. Thanks to the extremely helpful book "Mastering Dyalog APL", I was able to enjoy the fun of problem solving in APL and I stepped closer to the essential process of array-oriented thinking. That has subsequently really helped in my research and studies. Later, having gained a deeper understanding of programming, I found it interesting to read APL code, since the code and symbols themselves immediately shows the logic of how other people convert their thought processes directly into solutions."

"It is quite interesting that we had such a novel and open problem set this year. Various background knowledge and corresponding practical problems provide much fun and I really enjoyed it. Thanks to the contest organisers!"

Yanqing Chen attended Dyalog ’13 in, Florida USA, October 20 - 24 and made a presentation on his winning entry. (View his presentation)

Second prize went to Maks Verver, a Computer Science student from the Netherlands. Maks says, "I am very excited to win second place, especially since this year was my last opportunity to participate as a student. I am currently in the process of finishing my Master's thesis, which deals with algorithms for solving parity games (a formalism with applications to model and equivalence checking). Since this involves writing a lot of C++ code full of tedious for-loops, participating in the Dyalog Programming Contest was a nice change of pace for me, as it provides a rare opportunity to think about programming problems from a different perspective."

"Most of my experience with APL comes from participating in the 2009 Dyalog Programming Contest, where I achieved third place. I am very happy that I managed to improve on that result this year, and I take it as evidence that I managed to improve my APL skills further."

Third prize was awarded to Chao Xu, a first year Computer Science PhD student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Chao comments on his third prize award, "My interests lie in theoretical computer science. I heard about this contest back in 2011 from a friend, and was intrigued by a language that uses non-ascii symbols. I made a submission back then. Two years later, I got interested in the language again. This time I concentrated on the first problem, and profiled the code to make sure it was as fast as possible. It is elegant to find a nice APL solution because I have to think in high level array operations. This often leads to surprising ways to solve the problem."

Now in its 5th year, the annual APL programming content is made possible by the generous support of several sponsors, including US-based Fiserv, Italy-based APL Italiana, Denmark-based SimCorp and UK-based Dyalog Ltd., as well as several anonymous individuals and companies. The scoring and judging of submissions is organised and sponsored by a group APL programmers who owe their careers and gained great deal of pleasure working with the APL language.

The 2013 contest was run with the assistance of which reached into a wide community of students. The contest was further run in two phases, each with the possibility of winning cash prizes. Entering Phase 2 was not dependent on having completed Phase 1, however, the overall winner was judged from the pool of Phase 2 submissions.