University of Calgary

The next James Gosling?

U of C computer science students follow in the footsteps of IT pioneer

By Alana Mikkelsen

Nine problems. Five hours. Three people. One computer.

That will be the challenge for a winning team of University of Calgary students which has earned the right to compete with some of the world’s finest university students in an international computer programming competition to be held in Tokyo next spring.

U of C teams dominated the top third of recent regional programming contests, placing first, 9th and 13th out of 54 U.S. and Canadian teams.

Thousands of teams are competing at the regional level worldwide this fall, but only 85 will advance to the world championships.

The U of C students’ success falls on the heels of international kudos for another U of C success story—alumnus James Gosling.

In the Oct. 27 issue of British magazine Computer Weekly, Gosling, BSc’77, LLD’99, was voted the fourth greatest IT person of all time, after Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs, worldwide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Gosling received a bachelor’s of science degree in computer science from the U of C in 1977 and went on to join Sun Microsystems, where he created the Internet programming language Java, the precursor to a near-universal code that runs on diverse devices such as mobile phones, PCs and mainframe computers.

The U of C has also been an incubator for other influential people in the computer science field, including alumnus Bill Pulleyblank, BA’68, MSc’69, who helped build the world’s most powerful supercomputer—BlueGene-L.

The U of C winning student team solved six of nine problems presented in the most recent competition, and did so four minutes faster than their second-place rivals at the University of Alberta. The Rocky Mountain regional competition included competitors from Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Eastern Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Mexico. U of C also won the competition in 2003.

The world championships, which will take place March 12-16, 2007, are sponsored by IBM.