Kurtis Van Gent, of Sheldon, Iowa, Ben Erickson, of Slayton, Minnesota, and Mitchell Peterson, of Centerville, South Dakota, are at the 2016 World Finals for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC). The competition runs through Friday at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand. Coached by USD computer science professor Doug Goodman, the team competes against the top coding teams in the world.

“It’s usually hard to find people in computer science who want to gather with groups of other people,” Goodman said with a laugh. “But these guys have organized not only the practices, processes and formulas they can use for competitions. These are things that can be used by other people in the department.”

Contest preparation includes practice word problems that are based on common data structures and algorithms. “All the things your computer does every day that you don’t think about,” Erickson said. Teams are to intake the data in each problem, analyze it and output the resulting data, similar to the communication process between computers and other devices.

Next year’s ACM-ICPC will take place in Rapid City, South Dakota.

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