Alex Pei, grade 11, and Lawrence Li, grade 9, are two of only 24 finalists in the 2013 USA Computing Olympiad (USACO). The pair will now attend training camp at Clemson University, May 23 – June 1, hoping to qualify for the final team that the United States will send to the International Olympiad in Infomatics (IOI) in Brisbane, Australia.
The USACO (usaco.org) is one of a small number of national high-school Olympiads in mathematics and the sciences that are tasked with identifying and training the very best students in the country in their respective disciplines. Harker has finalists in various Olympiads each year, but having two in the same discipline is unusual.
During the academic year, the USACO hosts a series of challenging on-line programming contests – many of these are notoriously difficult, since they require high proficiency in both programming and algorithmic problem-solving, said Brian Dean, director of the USA Computing Olympiad and associate professor of computer science, Clemson University. “My graduate students usually cannot solve the problems in these contests,” he added.
“Based on their performance on these contests, Alex and Lawrence were selected as part of a group of 24 finalists – the very best in the USA – to attend a rigorous academic summer training camp where they have the opportunity to learn advanced concepts and hear about cutting-edge challenges in modern computer science,” said Dean. “This camp is a unique and unforgettable experience, and helps to bring participants to the point where they are truly world-class in terms of their talent. Many of our alums have gone on to make impressive contributions in academia and industry, and the most highly-selective universities know well that our finalists are indeed the best in the world as prospective applicants.
“Selection as a finalist in any Olympiad is one of the most significant honors a high-school student can earn in any discipline of study. The fact that the Harker School has two USACO finalists this year speaks volumes about the quality of your computing programs, and reflects very highly upon your school. As director of the USACO, I’m looking forward to working with Alex and Lawrence in a few weeks when they attend our summer program,” said Dean.