Coding Playoffs Feature Dueling AIs


by Tim Moran

Hard on the heels of college bowl season comes the International Collegiate Programming Finals, a competition that promises "All the excitement of March Madness, without the sweat!"

Sponsored by Windward, which started as a gaming company (Enemy Nations) but now focuses on developing enterprise-level reporting software for business teams, the competition takes place on January 28, 2012. Thus far, universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Purdue, and MIT (which might field as many as 20 teams) are slated to compete in the day-long event, which is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at the participating schools. Windward's suggested team size is two to five people.

According to Windward, the point of the coding competition is just good fun, with the winning team receiving a one-of-a-kind trophy upon which the winners' names will be engraved.

Given the heritage of the sponsor, it's no surprise that the challenge given to the collegiate competitors is in the form of a game. Each team must write "a game A.I.," and the teams will play against each other; up to six or eight A.I.s are permitted at once. The A.I.s will then play against each other, and the after 10 runs the team with the highest total score wins. Windward is allowing the participants to write their entries in C#, C++, Java, or Python on any operating system--whatever they are most familiar with.

Says Windward CTO David Thielen: "Why should the sports teams be the only ones to compete with the other schools? This gives the C.S. students the opportunity to compete [too]." Compared to some on-field snoozers, these finals are sure to be thrilling. What's more, the sponsor will provide free donuts, soda, pizza, and cookies during the event.

Not even Heisman winners get that.