Image: Ava Pun

On 20 February 2019, Marc Garneau students participated in the annual Canadian Computing Competition (CCC) which began shortly after noon. The participants were given three hours to solve five problems that they were allowed to code in seven programming languages. The competition was split into two divisions, Junior and Senior, according to the difficulty of the questions.

The University of Waterloo created the Canadian Computing Competition in 1996 with the aim to educate students about programming. High-scoring participants can earn certificates and medals and approximately twenty competitors in the Senior division can advance to the Canadian Computing Olympiad (CCO). The CCO is a week-long series of workshops and extracurricular activities along with two days of competition. If competitors score well in the national finals, they can proceed to compete at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), where the contestants are given five hours to solve three problems daily for two days.

Every Monday, the Computer Science Club at Marc Garneau meets in room 222 to discuss programming concepts, many of which appear in the competition. Problems that involve the explained concepts are given to the members for practice. Test cases are also included in the questions so that students can test their program for any errors by inputting the sample cases to check whether the correct output is returned. The aim of the program would be to return correct values for any input since the competition would include other test cases that would not be in the sample test cases.

During the computing competition, contestants programmed from scratch without any access to previous coding.  The code would have to be uploaded onto the online grader, which would run their code to check for the correct solution to the question. The grader would print out “Correct” in green and “Wrong answer” in blue to indicate incorrect answers to the generated test cases.

Participants gained points if their code outputted the correct answer and received partial or no marks if their program returned incorrect values. The problems were sorted into increasing difficulty with problem five being the most rigorous. No internet access was allowed other than the use of the online grader or the official documentation of programming languages.

Marc Garneau has been successful in past years with two students, Ava Pun and Victor Rong, competing in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) last year.

“We had about fifty people writing this year. The previous high was about forty,” said Mr. Jay, the organizer of the competition at Marc Garneau and a business and computer science teacher at the school. “For the third year in a row, we will be sending people to the Canadian Computing Olympiad, probably two or three.”