2022 Newsletter

The 2022 newsletter gives details of the 2022 Programming Olympiad.

It lists the 2021 results of the Finals as well as Provincial Winners of the Applications Olympiad and the Programming Olympiad. It also gives the medal count for the South African IOI team. To see the newsletter, click on: 2022-Newsletter


2021 Newsletter

The 2021 newsletter gives details of the 2021 Programming Olympiad.

It lists the 2020 results of the Finals as well as Provincial Winners of the Applications Olympiad and the Programming Olympiad. It also gives the medal count for the South African IOI team. To see the newsletter, click on: 2021-Newsletter


2020 Newsletter

The 2020 newsletter gives details of the 2020 Programming Olympiad.

It lists the 2019 results of the Finals as well as Provincial Winners of the Applications Olympiad and the Programming Olympiad. It also gives the medal count for the South African IOI team. To see the newsletter, click on: 2020-Newsletter


Learners from three provinces win top places

Three provinces win the top places in the SA Programming Olympiad in the 16th year of Standard Bank’s sponsorship of this tough competition. At a gala dinner in Cape Town, Nicole Borges[1], Head of Investment Banking Technology, presented at the Standard Bank Trophy to Andi Qu, a grade 11 learner at St John’s College in Gauteng. The coveted trophy has now returned to Gauteng after three years in the Western Cape. Gold medal winner, Andi, says he likes computational geometry and enjoys “cool, ad-hoc problems” more than the “maths and data structure questions”. Earlier this year Andi represented South Africa both at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Azerbaijan and the International Mathematics Olympiad in England. He has school honours for music and academics. He plans to study computer science and probably AI.

Aaron Naidu of KwaZulu-Natal, and Taariq Mowzer of the Western Cape won the two silver medals. Aaron, in grade 12 at Eden College, says he enjoys “entering all the competitions and Olympiads because they provide challenging questions that allow me to hone my skills and see how I compare to the best students in the country.”  Aaron also came top in the 2019 SA Mathematics Olympiad. Taariq, of Fairbairn College, and two-time winner of the Programming Olympiad gold medal, says that using past papers to prepare for the finals give “a comprehensive understanding of where you struggle.”

Three Western Cape learners in grade 12 won the bronze medals for the 2019 Programming Olympiad: Annekin Meyburgh (Hoërskool Bellville), Emile van der Walt (Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck) and Adri Wessels (Curro Durbanville). In July four of the above six Programming Olympiad medal winners also won bronze medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) in England – Mowzer, Naidu, Van der Walt and Wessels.

Michael Cameron, manager of the SA Computer Olympiad, said, “There is great benefit when teachers enter their learners in contests. A top performer in any class pulls up the level of all. A teacher who grasps this will take time to enter competitive events that nurture computational thinking. The Programming Olympiad not only celebrates the top programmers in schools nationwide, giving certificates to the top 50% of the 2 500 participants, it also grows coding talent for Africa.” He added that support is available. “Since July, we have an online evaluator, https://saco-evaluator.org.za for keen learners to practise past questions. It provides feedback for programs written in Python, Pascal (for Delphi users), Java, and C++.”

[1] Early in her career Nicole developed solutions for the Global Markets business and built an industry-recognized Centre of Excellence for trading applications. Over the past five years she has led the CIB Technology Graduate Programme to nurture South African talent. She recently founded the Elevate movement in Standard Bank to grow strong female leadership in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) discipline

Media release by:   Michael Cameron, manager SA Computer Olympiad

Photographs:          High resolution photographs available on request

Phone:                      021 448 7864  (Chanelle) / 082 780 7399 (Michael)

Website:                    www.olympiad.org.za

e-mail:                       info@olympiad.org.za (Chanelle)



Coding “Grand Prix” in Baku

Teen programmers from 86 countries compete for top honours at an international coding contest. Each country sends four high school learners to the 2019 International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). This year it takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan from 4-11 August.

This year’s team from South Africa is Tian Cilliers (Stellenbosch High School), Ralph McDougall, (Curro Durbanville), Taariq Mowzer, (Fairbairn College), and Andi Qu, (St John’s College, Johannesburg).

On each of the two contest days, participants have five hours to program the solutions to three problems. The preparation of the team from South Africa included 50 hours of contest programming mainly using problems from thirty past IOI contests. University computer science and mathematics students, Robin Visser and Bronson Rudner, trained the team over five weekends. Both have been medal winners at past SA Programming Olympiads and have represented the country at previous IOI contests

SA Computer Olympiad manager, Michael Cameron, says “This opportunity to measure up against the best programmers in the world is important for South Africa. It is a yardstick for our capacity. Our schools need to rise to the challenge of preparing our learners to take their part in the digital revolution in Africa and beyond.”

Media Release by Michael Cameron, manager of the South African Computer Olympiad michael@olympiad.org.za          082 780 7399    www.olympiad.org.za

High resolution photographs available from Chanelle: info@olympiad.org.za / 021-448 7864


2019 Newsletter

The 2019 newsletter gives details of the 2019 Programming Olympiad.

Read More


Typhoon and Earthquakes Rock SA Team

As if 20 hours in an aeroplane was not enough, the South African team at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Japan faced a typhoon and two earthquakes.

The South African team consisted of Tian Cilliers (Stellenbosch High School), Ralph McDougall (Curro Durbanville) Taariq Mowzer (Fairbairn College) and Emile Tredoux (Parklands College) took part in the 30th IOI in Tsubuka, Japan. These four were the winners of the 2017 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad. The IOI is the international coding contest for high school learners and takes place in a different country every year. This year a record number of countries entered a record number of participants; 335 participants from 87 countries.

Nineteen from Africa
Five counties from Africa entered 19 participants altogether. Taariq Mowzer, Ralph McDougall and Tian Cilliers came third, fourth and sixth respectively among the 19 contestants from Africa. At various stages of the contest each of the South African participants was in line for a bronze medal. However, it was not to be. As any seasoned traveller will be able to tell you, flying form West to East is the one that gets you. If there had been a medal for flying the longest distance the South African team would have brought it home.

The IOI gives participants the opportunity to mix with other participants and to experience different cultures. This the team did. Tian states:
“We immediately saw signs of Japanese culture when we arrived at the airport: self-service biometric stations and posters advertising Anime Tours.”
Ralph adds:
“We were amazed at the opening ceremony when the holographic depiction of the IOI mascot came to life and welcomed us.”
Among the unanticipated experiences were a typhoon and two earthquakes.

A few contestants used different computer languages to solve the six problems, but most stuck to one language: C++. Of the contestants 332 used C++, seven used Java and only one used Pascal. Providing for Python for 2019 is being considered, but it is not sure if Python can deliver the result for all the test cases in the time allowed – sometimes less than half a second!

Among the 355 participants there were only two or three girls. The low female participation is quite common in the scientifically orientated Olympiads such as the International Maths Olympiad and the International Physics Olympiad. In an effort to redress the imbalance the Institute for IT Professionals is issuing bursaries at school level and beyond to female coders.

Future IOIs
2019 Azerbaijan for the winners of the 2018 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad.
2020 Singapore for the winners of the 2019 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad.
2021 Egypt for the winners of the 2020 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad.
2022 Indonesia for the winners of the 2021 Standard Bank Computer Olympiad.

South Africa was host to the IOI in Cape Town in 1997.

Photographs available on request

More information available from www.olympiad.co.za and info@olympiad.co.za

Media release by Michael Cameron
Phone 021 448 7864


Second Coding Gold for Cape Town learner

Only three learners in 34 years of the annual SA Programming Olympiad have earned the gold medal twice.
At the Awards Dinner during the school holidays Taariq Mowzer became the third. In grade 11 at Fairbairn
College in Cape Town, Mowzer (17) competed against nine other finalists from three provinces to claim the
prestigious Standard Bank trophy, first awarded in 2005.

Tian Cilliers (Stellenbosch High) and Emile Tredoux (Parklands College) each won a silver medals, while the
three bronze medals went to Liam Foxcroft (Bishops), Ralph McDougall (Curro Durbanville) and Andi Qu (St
John’s College, Johannesburg). Qu (15), the youngest finalist commented “I think it’s great that high school
students get an opportunity to be exposed to difficult problems like these”.
To celebrate 15 years of Standard Bank support for the Olympiad, the finals moved from Cape Town to the
Bank’s Global Leadership Centre in Johannesburg for the 10-hour weekend coding contest. On Monday the
finalists took a guided tour of three of the Bank’s computer facilities including mobile banking. Tian Cilliers
commented “We learned a lot about the specific technologies and workflow methods used to improve
efficiency and provide the best experience to the user.”

The first round of the Programming Olympiad attracted 2,036 participants to the 1-hour contest at schools in
August. Of the participants invited to the second round, 539 took part online in the 90-minute contest. The
programs of the top performers were checked to see that they provided the correct output. Ten learners
took part in the finals – one from Gauteng, two from KwaZulu-Natal and seven from the Western Cape.
According to Michael Cameron, manager of the Standard Bank Programming Olympiad, “Olympiads help to
identify and develop talent in schools so that youngsters who wouldn’t otherwise have chosen a career in IT
are encouraged to do so.”

Nicole Borges, Head of CIB Technology at Standard Bank, ended the Awards evening with the challenge to
the ten finalists “Technology will do great things for our communities, country and the world and you will be
at the heart of it. Go out and not only advance us in the Fourth Industrial Revolution but help us Future
proof Africa!”

High resolution photographs available on request

Michael Cameron Manager: S.A. Computer Olympiad Land line: 021 448 7864 Email: info@olympiad.org.za


2018 Newsletter

The 2018 newsletter gives details of the 2018 Programming Olympiad.

Read More


Mastermind Wins Gold

Taariq Mowzer, in grade 10 at Fairbairn College in Cape Town, won the gold medal in the 34th South African Computer Programming Olympiad. He described the Mastermind question of the event as “one of the most fun questions I have done”.

Along with 12 other finalists he spent two days writing six computer programs to solve problems. His solution to the the Mastermind problem, based on the 1972 board game, gave him the edge to win the prestigious Standard Bank Trophy and his gold medal at the awards dinner. In her address, Nicole Borges, head of investment banking technology emphasised that Standard Bank’s investment in the Olympiad over the past 15 years showed commitment to develop and reward high level programming skills in South Africa. “These skills are in great demand”, she said, adding that “half of my day is spent on blockchain technology”.

There were 227 schools from all nine provinces that participated in the first round. The initial field of 2 348 participants was reduced to 478 for Round Two and 13 reached the finals – all of them with perfect scores. The Programming Olympiad Finals took place over an October weekend at UCT. The finalists came from five provinces. The two silver medal winners were Tian Cilliers (Gr 11, Stellenbosch High) and Ralph McDougall (Gr 11, Curro Durbanville). The three bronze medals were earned by Jordan Arenstein (Gr 12, King David Victory Park, Gauteng), Donal Davies (Gr 12, Woodridge College, Eastern Cape) and Emile Tredoux (Gr 11, Parklands College, Cape Town). The medal winners will be invited to attend training camps where they will also compete to qualify for the South African team of four to go to Japan in September 2018 for the 30th International Olympiad in Informatics.

The guest speaker at the Awards Ceremony was Dr Judith Bishop, a distinguished Computer Scientist and author of 16 books on computer languages. While working as Director of Research at Microsoft in Seattle, she was on the development team for the micro:bit, which she demonstrated. In 2016 this tiny programmable device was given to one million 11-year- old learners in the UK as part of the BBC “Make it Digital”. The aim was to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding and not to be mere users (consumers) of technology.
“What are the hot areas in Computer Science today?” asked Dr Bishop. “There is no doubt about it, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is top of the list. All of industry is trying neural networks, machine learning, vision recognition, language translation, etc.” She added that “once the AI people have made their plan, it must still be programmed, compiled, debugged. Underpinning all of these is the skill of software engineering. There will always be a place for top designers, analysts and programmers.”

The awards dinner was a happy return for the 1986 gold medal winner, Gustav Mauer who attended with his wife Margaretha. Their daughter Christina (Gr 10, Durbanville High School) was the only female finalist. Gustav is a senior software development engineer in the IT industry at Amazon Web Services and remarked afterwards that “the industry… desperately needs more skilled developers”.
A key goal of the Programming Olympiad is to attract more young people to learn programming – an ability that is required not only in the IT industry, but in most occupations of the future.
Photographs available on request.