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Air Force Academy Spirit

Cadets get with the program

Cadets 2nd Class David Musielewicz, Robbie Winchester and Michael Nettis work a problem during Saturday’s 2009 Inter-Service Programming Contest.

Cadets 2nd Class David Musielewicz, Robbie Winchester and Michael Nettis work a problem during Saturday’s 2009 Inter-Service Programming Contest.

Courtesy Academy Spirit

Academy cadets took second, third and fourth place in Saturday’s 2009 Inter-Service Programming Contest between the Academy, Marines, Navy and USCGA.

The inter-service programming competition required writing computer programs to solve a variety of problems. For example, one problem required the determination of whether two rectangles intersected or not. In another problem called “walk,” a farmer lost his glasses in a field and a cadet’s program had to create a route for the farmer to search for his glasses. Other problems dealt with placement of commas, factorization of numbers, and optimization of resources for the game “Civilization.”

“The three teams all competed at the same time,” said Cadet 3rd Class Andrew Whitmey a Cadet Squadron 30 computer engineering major from Dana Point, Calif. “It was a timed contest with the other teams at the other academies working at the same time. We used a communal webpage to post the competition problems, and they were released at the same time.”

The three teams competed against each other as well as against those from the other academies.

Participating in the competition as Team 1’s Cadets 3rd Class Andrew Whitmey, Brian Hayes and Sean Coombs; Team 3’s Cadets 2nd Class Michael Nettis, Robbie Winchester and David Musielewicz; and, Team 4’s Cadets 2nd Class Alex Larson and Alex Roosma.

“There were six different problems, so that my team split them up, two problems for each person, and got to work,” Cadet Whitmey said.

The hardest problem he personally tried to solve was the “Civilization” problem. “It involved creating an

algorithm to maximize output of a

specified resource around a city placed on a grid,” the cadet said. “Each grid location had a certain capacity to produce a specific resource, so that our job was to write the program that would maximize the output of the specified resource by placing ‘population units’ on certain squares.”

He and his teammates volunteered for the competition.

“We all love programming and needed the practice for the Computer Science 220 class,” he said

In this sort of competition, the team members needed an ability to solve problems, not just the knowledge of the programming language syntax. To quickly complete the problems faster than the other teams, competitors needed to have a lot of practice specific to algorithm creation and problem solving, not to mention plenty of soda pop … and maybe an Oreo or two.

“I enjoyed the ‘Comma’ program the most; it was an Oxford comma detector used to scan through a supplied text file and find ‘likely’ or ‘possible’ Oxford commas and give their locations in the file,” Cadet Whitmey said. “I understood how I was supposed to solve the problem, and I carried it out in a short amount of time. However, I got the problem wrong because of certain test cases I hadn’t thought of. Oh well.”

He said just being in CS 210 last semester prepared him for the contest. “I didn’t take any extra steps to prepare for the contest,” the cadet said.

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