The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Coders compete in Programming Club’s annual Harker Programming Invitational

Tiffany Zhu
High school coders collaborate on the novice problem set during HPC’s Harker Programming Invitation in Nichols Atrium on Mar. 9. Groups of up to three students worked together to solve ten questions in two hours in the novice division.

Around 150 middle and high school students from the Bay Area participated in the annual Harker Programming Invitational (HPI), a team-based competition organized by Harker Programming Club (HPC) and held in Nichols Hall on Saturday.

Registration for the contest, themed “CS and Transportation,” began at 8 a.m. in the Nichols Atrium. Competitors moved with their teams of up to three students into assigned testing locations. The contest ran from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m and consisted of a set of 10 problems in the novice division and 12 problems in the advanced division.

HPI participant Yash Belani (9) attended the contest the past two years because of its high-stakes yet cooperative nature. 

“I attend these contests because I want to become better at competitive programming,” Yash said. “Also, it’s fun to team up with friends and also meet other people who are interested in the topic as well. This year, with my teammates, we did talk about one problem for pretty much an hour, and did it as a team.”

I saw that the atmosphere in the atrium was especially electric, and everyone was really engrossed in trying to solve the problems

— Upper school computer science teacher and HPC adviser Anu Datar

Following the contest, participants moved to the Nichols Auditorium for a panel session from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. In line with this year’s theme, keynote speaker Allen Yang spoke about his work at the intersection of computer science and transportation, including his experience leading the Berkeley ROAR team in the Indy Autonomous Challenge. Then, Berkeley undergraduate students Isaac Gonzalez and Rojan Kashani working on the NASA SUITS project presented their pitch to inspire the participants.

To conclude the event, an award ceremony that began at 12 p.m. announced the top teams for both the novice and advanced divisions. A total of 26 novice and 29 advanced teams competed. In both divisions, each member of the first-place team won $100, with additional prizes for other placing teams. From Harker, frosh Lucas Lum and his team took first place in the novice division. 

HPC officers began organizing this year’s HPI in December. On the front end, organizing the contest involves contacting speakers, managing funds for prize money and other expenses as well as conducting outreach to local schools and organizations to draw participants.

After pitching ideas, the club’s problem-writing team completes a process of writing problem statements, coding solutions, generating test cases and peer-reviewing each other’s work. Problems are then transferred onto the online platform Codeforces on which participants submit and run their code.

HPC Head Problem Writer Thomas Liu (12) helps a middle school student debug his code during the HPI contest. Thomas and fellow Head Problem Writer Bobby Costin (12) led the problem writers to craft two sets of questions, one for the novice and the other for the advanced division. (Tiffany Zhu)

HPC president Joe Li (12) partook in the process of writing the problems and appreciated the effort of the other writers.

“I really enjoyed talking to the problem writers about different problems and disputing points because there were a lot of really interesting ideas,” Joe said. “I also enjoyed talking to the participants about their solutions after the contest. I could see their excitement about solving the problems, and that was just really fulfilling for me as well.”

Upper school computer science teacher and HPC adviser Anu Datar noted the importance of hosting an annual competition for Bay Area students. 

“I saw that the atmosphere in the atrium was especially electric, and everyone was really engrossed in trying to solve the problems,” Datar said. “The students really enjoy pushing themselves and taking on these kinds of challenges, and HPI provides a platform for a lot of students who are deeply passionate about computer science and problem solving.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Tiffany Zhu
Tiffany Zhu, Reporter
Tiffany Zhu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Tiffany hopes to meet more members of the Harker and journalism community and share topics she's passionate about with them. In her free time, she enjoys baking and watching all genres of movies.
Emma Gao
Emma Gao, Aquila Co-Managing Editor
Emma Gao (12) is a co-managing editor for Harker Aquila, and this is her fourth year on staff. This year, she hopes to explore writing a variety of articles as well as interview more people around campus. In her free time, she enjoys going on long hikes, evening walks around her neighborhood and road trips along Highway 1.

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *