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New Zealand team gains a bronze at the International Olympiad in Informatics

Margot Philips, Guest post. 15 August 2019, 7:21 am

ZhiYuan Qi, a year 12 student at Auckland Grammar School, was presented with a bronze medal for his programming prowess in an elite international competition for high school students - the International Olympiad in Informatics, held this year in Azherbaijan.

"I enjoyed meeting new people and solving unique problems at the IOI. I'm happy to have won a medal this year which is my second year attending an IOI. The excursions and the ancient artefacts at the fire temple were very interesting"  

The International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) is an annual event, held in different countries around the world. The 2019 event was staged in Baku, Azerbaijan. Eighty-eight countries participated with each country bringing up to four contestants, who compete as individuals. Typically students have been through a rigorous set of contests within their country to be selected. Even getting to an IOI is a phenomenal achievement. 

The students sit two five-hour programming competitions each day consisting of three challenging problems to solve. The problems are divided into subtasks, with a less efficient algorithm gaining part marks for the task. To get 100% on a problem typically requires seeing which data structures and algorithms to use so that the program will run within the time constraints set for the problem. The teaching for high school students in these techniques is done in January at a summer camp run by the New Zealand Olympiad in Informatics, with a team of experienced volunteers. 

After the two days of competition, which are separated by an excursion day, the individual scores are combined and a ranked list produced. The students with the top 50% of scores will receive a medal. 


The New Zealand team consisted of:

  • Eric Song (Burnside High School) gained 126 points and placed 277
  • ZhiYuan Qi (Auckland Grammar School) gained 272 points and placed 139
  • Ivan Solovyev (Howick College) got 170 points and placed 244
  • Maayan Levy (Hillcrest High School) got 219 points, and placed 196

The team was accompanied by Logan Glasson as leader, himself a past medal winner at IOIs from 2010 to 2013 and was supported by the Royal Society and also by the computer science departments from Canterbury, Victoria and Auckland universities.


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