Monday, 1 October 2018

South African learners compete at international coding olympiad in Japan

The International Olympiad for Informatics (IOI) is an international coding competition for high school learners that takes place in a different country every year. This year, a record 335 participants from 87 countries travelled to Japan to put their programming skills to the test.


The South African team consisted of Tian Cilliers (Stellenbosch High School), Ralph McDougall (Curro Durbanville) Taariq Mowzer (Fairbairn College) and Emile Tredoux (Parklands College). They earned their spots at the 30th IOI in Tsubuka, Japan by winning the 2017 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad.

Taariq Mowzer, Ralph McDougall (wearing team mascot, Bit the python), Tian Cilliers, Emile Tredoux

Taariq Mowzer, Ralph McDougall and Tian Cilliers came third, fourth and sixth respectively out of the 19 contestants from Africa. Whilst unfortunately they didn’t win any medals, the South African delegation had a once in a lifetime experience of mixing with young programmers from around the world and experiencing different cultures. The participants also had the unanticipated experiences of a typhoon and two earthquakes whilst in Japan. Tian recalls, “We immediately saw signs of Japanese culture when we arrived at the airport: self-service biometric stations and posters advertising Anime Tours.” Ralph added: “We were amazed at the opening ceremony when the holographic depiction of the IOI mascot came to life and welcomed us.”


Whilst contestants were given a choice of programming languages to solve the six problems they were presented with, most used C++, seven used Java and only one used Pascal. Disappointingly among the 355 participants there were only two or three girls. In an effort to encourage more females to participate, the Institute for IT Professionals is issuing bursaries at school level and beyond to female coders.


The winners of the 2018 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad will compete in the International Olympiad for Informatics in Azerbaijan, and the 2019 winners will travel to Singapore in 2020. If you are a high school learner with a passion for coding and you would like to earn a spot at one of these international events, read more about the South African Programming Olympiad and look out for next year’s competition in March 2019. If you are just starting out, and want to develop the thinking skills that will serve you well in programming, we encourage you to try out the Talent Search computational thinking challenge.

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