A different Olympics came to Hungary – hosted by John von Neumann Computer Society

As London gears up to host Olympic athletes, Hungary recently attracted some of the world’s most promising computer scientists for its own cerebral Games - the Central European Olympiad in Informatics (CEOI 2012). A total of 52 competitors, aged 15 to 17, came from 12 countries to the beautiful town of Tata. They worked for two days coding. All shared a common goal: to build the best algorithm and to solve complex problems of everyday life with the power of technology.

 This Olympiad, launched in 1994, is held annually, in a different country each year. The John von Neumann Computer Society, devoted to the promotion of the Information Society and to the development of the new generation of IT professionals, organised the 2012 Games, in Hungary.  

Competitors were given practical problems to solve by developing efficient algorithms. The faster the program, the higher the score. One task - inspired by the scenic view from the venue - was to design a program that could calculate the longest possible path a sightseeing cruise can travel on a lake, touching multiple stops in a restricted order, while only crossing its own path once. Romanian and Bulgarian teams won the gold medal in this contest and the highest number of overall gold medals.  Hungarians won one silver an 4 bronze medals.

During the Olympiad, contestants took part in an hour long conversation via Google Hangout with Google engineer Mihai Stroe, who leads a team of Google Maps engineers in Zurich. He and his team write algorithms which help millions of people every day and help them find the quickest way from A to B whether they are travelling by foot, by car or public transport.

More than a decade ago, Mihai competed in student programming competitions. He even took part in an Olympiad as a member of the scientific committee. This experience helped shape his career at Google.

CEOI 2012 has been supported by the Ministry of Human Resources , John von Neumann Computer Society, Google,  Pázmány-Eötvös Foundation, Aladdin Foundation, ELTE University and the Town of Tata.