The 23rd year of IOI (International Olympiad in Informatics) was held in Pattaya, Thailand from July 22 to 29. Two members of the French team, supported by EPITA, were awarded with medals.
Paul Kirchner, a secondary school student in his final year, who had already won two bronze medals in previous years, was ranked ninth and won a gold medal for France. Jules Pondard, a secondary school student in his fifth year, was ranked 114th and won a bronze medal. France thus secured its second gold medal at the IOI since the debut of the event in 1996. The last gold medal won for France was secured by Mehdi Bouaziz in 2005, with a similar ranking. In addition to these two gold medals, France has already collected a total of five silver and twenty bronze medals.
Paul Kirchner in yellow, Jules Pondard in white, Mathias Hiron in azure
EPITA, the school involved in the competition
Every year – for about one week, around 80 participating countries in the IOI are represented by four students (under 19 years of age) from each participating country. Every participant must solve problems of algorithmic nature in five hours during two events that make up the competition. EPITA has been supporting team France via the France-IOI association, by hosting the French competition (April 30 – May 1), and by allowing the winners to get training in its premises as well as sponsoring their travel.
Training by France IOI at EPITA
“The training for the final competition allowed me to gain more speed and agility in solving problems”, said Paul Kirchner. “Algorithms and algebra are a passion for me. I started feeling bored during my final year at secondary school, and thus went on to discover the program of first year preparatory classes and worked to solve difficult computational exercises. I also participated in the competition Prologin, during which I got second place this year. I am now going to enter the first year of “Maths-Physics-Engineering Sciences” (MPSI) at Lycee Louis-le-Grand, and I am aiming to enter the Ecole Normale Supérieure d’Ulm to continue my studies in research.”
Intensive training with the France IOI
For Mathias Hiron, President of France IOI, “participants at the World Finals are usually bright students, computer enthusiasts who pursue their careers in academic research or in big companies such as Google, Facebook or Microsoft after passing through the Ecole Normale Supérieure or EPITA. “
A glimpse of the France IOI website
Students participating in this challenging competition were trained regularly on the web-site of France IOI, which offers free exercises on IT and algorithms. With 10 years of existence, there are a total of 10,000 registered users and 500 visitors per day. After the publication of a new version of the website this summer there was a significant increase in its attendance: more than 17,000 exercise solutions just during the month of August. Mathias Hiron wants to gradually internationalize the website. At the moment it is available only in French, but soon it will be made available in Spanish, German, Lithuanian and other languages.
IOI as a gateway to the future
One of the four participants of the French team, George-Axel Jaloyan, a 15 year old secondary school student, said: “I found the site while solving programming problems (in my case C). Then I started algorithmic exercises, and I was not able to stop afterwards. I discovered a whole community via France-IOI internships. I learnt a lot from this and it was totally rewarding for me. Algorithms are not taught in the traditional curriculum, France-IOI was the cord that connected me to this area. I learned a new way to code, a way to solve algorithmic problems and, more generally – the art of using a research method for a given problem. “
Candidates at work during the IOI in Pattaya
“The benefits of this training were almost immediate – after the first training from IOI France, my math average increased by 2 points, and my ability to find solutions to math problems increased significantly. The IOI represents success of several years of work. This competition opens many doors and will enrich my CV as well as my personal experience. Moreover I feel honored to represent France in an international competition. “
For more information log on to the website of the France IOI: www.france-ioi.org