Two members of the South African team won bronze medals at the recent International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) 2023 in Szeged, Hungary, where hundreds of competitors from 90 countries participate in what is billed as ‘the world’s most prestigious IT student competition’.
Benjamin Kleyn, a first year BSc Mathematics student at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, and Minkyum Kim, a Grade 12 learner from Reddam House Durbanville in the Western Cape, shone at the event – the second time both of them have qualified to represent South Africa at IOI.
The South African team, also including Mohammed Khan of UJ Metropolitan School in Gauteng and Youkyum Kim, a Grade 10 learner from Reddam House Durbanville, were selected from the top performers in the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) Computer Programming Olympiad. The Programming Olympiad is one of the oldest and biggest events of its kind in the world, first launched in 1984 and engaging over 50,000 participants annually. Top performers are selected annually and given further training, to participate in IOI.
The team was sponsored by Jane Street, a quantitative trading firm with offices worldwide, and was led at IOI by Taariq Mowzer from the University of Cape Town and Kamohelo Motloung, IITPSA’s Education Officer.
Congratulating the team, IITPSA CEO Tony Parry said: “One of the IITPSA’s key focus areas is skills development, and we’re gratified to see young South Africans taking advantage of the opportunity to expand their horizons through the Olympiad and IOI. At IOI, they not only gain exposure to their international peers – they also get a chance to explore a foreign destination. We thank our IOI team sponsors for making this possible.”
Benjamin reports: “What I enjoyed most was being able to spend time with the rest of my team and to make friends with like-minded people from all around the world. It is not often that one is surrounded by so many people who have similar interests and passions.
What I found most challenging was the contest days. Not only were the problems quite difficult, but it is even harder to stay calm and to think clearly when you have 30 minutes left to code and have hardly made any progress on a problem – when 30 minutes could determine whether or not you receive a medal. In these moments I tried my best to follow our team leader’s advice and to ‘just have fun’.
The highlight for me was when a massive crowd of competitors started jumping up and down in the middle of the contest arena 10 minutes before the contest started. I joined and started jumping as well, which really helped calm my nerves. It is one of the most memorable moments of the trip for me.”
Says Minkyum: “I really enjoyed meeting new people from different countries, making new friends and finally meeting people that I’ve only really talked to online. It was fun to be in a place with so many people that shared the same passion, yet were from vastly different cultures and places.
The thing I found most challenging was the competition itself – 5 hours of intense thinking and programming is hard! It was rather challenging to keep calm and follow a good strategy of tackling problems while being under time pressure and stress.
It was a really fun experience. I’d have to say that the highlight of the trip was when my teammates and I visited a waterpark near the hotel. It was a welcome relief from the hot weather, and we had a blast going on numerous water slides. Two of the slides even started at the top of a small tower, and we had to take an elevator to the top!”
Sponsor Jane Street notes: “We hire smart, humble people who love to solve problems, build systems and test theories. Jane Street has a number of opportunities available for students – from multi-day educational programs to learn how we apply Mathematics and Computer Science in our everyday work, through to our global internships and full-time roles.
Applications for internships at Jane Street are open now.
To learn more about internship opportunities at Jane Street London, visit www.janestreet.com