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Bronze medal for Ireland at the International Olympiad in Informatics

Posted on September 18, 2018

18 year old Kieran Horgan from Mallow, Co. Cork clinched a Bronze medal at this year’s prestigious 30th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Tsukuba, Japan. After winning the AIPO national title in DCU in February, Kieran was awarded the Bronze medal after two days of competitive programming among 335 high school students from around the world. In field that is dominated by the USA, China, Russia and former soviet states, this is quite an achievement!

Sponsored by Fidelity Investments, Team Ireland included John Ryan (19yr) from St.Joseph's College, Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Oisin O’Duibhir (18yr) from Scoil Mhuire Agus Íde, Newcastle West, Limerick, Caolan Fleming (17yr) from Leinster College, Newbridge, Kildare, Kieran Horgan and Delegation Leaders, Gary Conway and Ximo Planells.

Kieran had an excellent first day of the contest, scoring 180 points out of a possible 300,  to put him into a solid silver medal position. However, the second day of the contest was much tougher, with Kieran only scoring 24 out of 300 points. Thankfully, most students found points difficult to come by on the second day, but he did slip down into the Bronze category managing to scoring enough to keep himself above the cut off. He gave his delegation leaders (and his family no doubt!) quite a fright on the morning of the second competition day, when he was one of the first to score 19 points on the third problem, propelling himself into the Gold range!

The IOI is one of five international science Olympiads for secondary school students with this Olympiad focusing on computing science and information technology and was first initiated by UNESCO in 1989. Each student must solve 6 algorithmic problems over two days of competition, with points awarded for how quickly their coded solution runs against large data inputs.

Delegation Leader Gary Conway from DCU says ‘To reach an IOI for tremendous achievement for these young men and something that will always stand out on their CV. The skills required to reach an IOI is exactly the type of engineering skills so sought after in the software industry today: computational thinking and generation of quality code under pressure. They have a bright future ahead of them!’

Tadhg O’Shea, Vice President of Software Engineering, Fidelity Investments Ireland, said ‘We know that these students worked so hard to get to the IOI and we are really proud of their performance in such a tough competition. We hope that their achievements inspire other young students in Ireland to learn programming and consider a future career in technology’.

Of course another important goal of the AIPO and IOI is to bring together exceptionally talented students and to have them share scientific and cultural experiences during this trip of a lifetime. With excursions to the Japanese Space Centre, Seaworld and Oarai Isosaki Shrine, not to mention the food, the students got to rich introduction to Japanese cultural and way of life. However the highlight of any IOI trip is the friends that the students make from around the world, with Team Ireland befriending students from Iceland, Mexico and Dominican Republic.

2018 IOI Problem statements can be viewed here: https://ioi2018.jp/competition/tasks/

Final Scoreboard: https://ranking.ioi18.net/Ranking.htm

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