National Olympiad in Informatics: Xaverians Rank as Top High School Computer Scientists

by Steven Sy (9B), Stallion News Writer
(L-R) Mr Martin Gomez, Chair of the NOI.PH; Robin Yu, NOI.PH’14 3rd Place Overall Winner; Mr Monchito Ibrahim, Deputy Executive Director, Department of Science and Technology – Information and Communications Technology Office, Republic of the Philippines. Photos by Deondre Ng (Stallion Alumnus, XS’13)

Two members of the XS Next Lab, Robin Yu of Grade 10C, and King Alandy Dy of H4F, displayed their prowess in computer programming by joining, as finalists, the National Olympiad in Informatics – Philippines (NOI.PH) held last July 5, 2014, at Kickstart Headquarters, Makati, and placing third and sixth place respectively.

While this year was the very first time the Philippines hosted the National Olympiad in Informatics, it has been a prestigious competition that is regularly held in more than 90 countries including the U.S., China, Japan, Singapore, U.K., Israel, Ukraine and Russia. The contest normally serves as a selection process for students to represent their countries at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), in which over three hundred high school students from all over the world come to compete.

The International Olympiad in Informatics joins the ranks of the world’s most prestigious academic competitions for the secondary school level, such as the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO), International Biology Olympiad (IBO), International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) and the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO). Challenging as it is, achieving recognition in a global competition of this scale distinguishes students and opens opportunities for scholarships from various institutions around the world. The International Olympiad in Informatics is now on its 26th year.

Apart from winning prize money ranging from P500 to P3000, an exclusive T-shirt, a medal, and a certificate, the top four finishers of the NOI 2014 will get a chance to compete against the top four finishers of the NOI 2015 next year. The top four finishers of this competition will then form the team that will represent the Philippines at the International Olympiad for Informatics 2015 to be held at Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The National Olympiad in Informatics, the premier computing Olympiad of the Philippines for high school students, was split into two stages. The first stage saw 128 participants undergoing an elimination round, which was held online on the website called “HackerRank”. To prepare for the competition, sample problems and a list of recommended readings were provided on this site. Participants were then given five hours to answer a series of mathematical problems using their knowledge on coding. Contestants were limited to the use of programming languages, C++, C, and Java. The top ten finishers then advanced to the second stage of the competition, which was held at Kickstart HQ in Makati.

NOI.PH is endorsed by the country’s Department of Science and Technology – Information and Communications Office (DOST-ICTO). The competition is further supported by the DOST-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), Senator Bam Aquino, and Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III. The NOI.PH 2014 finals event was graced by DOST-ICTO Deputy Executive Director Monchito Ibrahim, DOST-Smarter Philippines Executive Director Alejandro Melchor III, and members of the DOST-SEI.

Robin Yu, who placed third in the final round, said that it was his experiences in the XS NExT Lab that inspired him to enter the competition. His moderator, Mr. Martin Gomez, suggested that he enter the contest after he learned how to use C++. Apart from learning from Xavier’s NExT Lab, he has studied programming by himself for the past four years. Robin is a prime example of how hard work and determination can truly equate to success. “Being able to join a contest that involves my passion, and subsequently place as well, was really something that made me happy.” says Robin. He is currently looking forward to competing for a spot to represent the Philippines in the IOI in 2015.

image-2King Alandy Dy, who placed sixth in the final round also stated, “It was a great experience. We met the other top programmers of the Philippines.” Furthermore, King also credited the XS NExT Lab for further developing his passion for programming and coding. According to King, “There is a lot of potential in the technological community in the Philippines, even if it’s going to be the Philippines’ first time to join the IOI.”

President Aquino himself acknowledged the importance of the contest saying, “This event is a vital opportunity to develop our youth’s passion to become the future innovators that will help us transform the Philippines.” In addition, Senator Bam Aquino also said, “Undoubtedly, computing is a significant skill that will help in the development of the Filipino nation.”

With so many technological innovations and advancements all over the world we live in today, computer programming has become a viable skill that all high school students can benefit from in order to help shape, and—as President Aquino said—transform the Philippines. The competition not only helped the participants develop their talents in the field of programming, but it also allowed them to meet others who shared their passion.

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