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ICPC: École polytechnique's team in the world's top 25, record-breaking performance for a French team

06 Oct. 2021

logo ICPC World finals Moscow

École polytechnique's team involved in the 44th edition of the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) ranked 24th in the world with "High Honors" and ahead of all the teams from South-West Europe. This is the best performance ever recorded by a team from a French higher education and research institution in an ICPC world final.

The ICPC is an annual competitive programming team competition open to students from universities around the world. Each team is given around twelve real-world algorithmic problems and five hours to solve as many of them as possible. It is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

École polytechnique's team was composed of two Bachelor students, Khanh Nguyen and Thanh Vinh Nguyen, and one Ingénieur Polytechnicien, Louis Abraham (X2015). They had already won the 2019-2020 edition of SWERC (SouthWestern Europe Regional Contest) out of 100 teams representing France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland, enabling École polytechnique to win this competition for the first time ever.

Louis Abraham won a distinction in the Concours Général of Mathematics in 2013 and was the youngest laureate of all subjects; he then entered Polytechnique when he was 17 years old and created the first student association for competitive programming. Khánh Nguyen represented Vietnam at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) 2018 and won a Bronze Medal; he has been involved in promoting the ICPC and helping other students improving their skills. Thanh Vinh Nguyen achieved a Gold Medal in Vietnam National Olympiad in Informatics 2018; he was then admitted to Polytechnique with honors. Khánh and Vinh are now supported by the Excellence Scholarship from the École polytechnique Foundation. The three team members have made great contributions to the competitive programming community at l'X.

Thanks to the continued support of the School's Department of Computer Science and Research (DIX), classes and student initiatives still promote this discipline actively in the School.

"It’s a wonderful result. Warm congratulations to the team, Khanh Nguyen, Thanh Vinh Nguyen, and Louis Abraham ! And special thanks to all people who support and made it possible", said Dominique Rossin, vice-provost for Education.

The 2021 edition of the ICPC took place at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology from October 1st to October 6th and brought together 58,963 talented university students from 3,406 universities and 104 countries. Only the best teams qualified to advance to the finals. The previous time École Polytechnique qualified for the final was in 2002.

"Preparing for this edition of the ICPC World Finals was not easy, mainly due to the postponement of the competition by more than a year because of the Covid 19 crisis.  The three competitors showed great determination: they trained together every week for two years, for about eight hours a week, and developed a perfect team collaboration," said Hang Zhou, assistant professor at  École Polytechnique who coached them alongside Nathanaël Courant, a PhD student at Inria.