The Google Hash Code is an international programming competition organized by the American Internet giant. Each year, more than 17,000 participants compete in teams to develop algorithms and lines of code. On February 11, numerous EPITA students participated in the 2016 edition from the school campus. Representing the GranopHyriC team, Julien Dubiel, Paul Klein and Adrien Toubiana (EPITA class of 2017), three 4th year students majoring in Cognitive Science and Advanced Computing (SCIA) did particularly well in the competition, outshining their peers.
Adrien and Julien speak about this remarkable experience.
Paul Klein, Adrien Toubiana et Julien Dubiel
Why did you choose to participate in Hash Code 2016?
Julien: We had heard about it for some time on Facebook and from our professors at EPITA. The most recent edition was held on a day when we had some free time. So, we decided to participate, not necessarily to win, but just for the fun of it. In the end, I have to admit that we did rather well as we won 1st place at EPITA, 26th on a national level and 106th out of this year's 17,000 participants.
What was the main theme of 2016 challenge?
Adrien: We had to develop an optimal algorithm that would allow us to guide drones around a city, delivering packages. I know that this sounds simple, but we had to work as fast as possible, while taking a wide variety of parameters into account.
What was the biggest difficulty you faced during this Hash Code competition?
Adrien: The race against time. In fact, we only had four hours to manage all of the different parameters.
Did you enjoy working on a program linked to drones?
Julien: Very much so! Not only was the subject interesting, but it is also something that people are talking about today. It's highly probable that drones will deliver packages in the years to come.
The name of your team is GranopHyriC. Why did you choose this strange name?
Julien: We were simply looking for a name with the Google Hash Code initials in the correct order! While doing research on the Internet, we came across the name "granophyric".
Why do you think that your team did so well?
Adrien: I think that our concerted efforts played a major role because we really worked as a team from the very beginning. We also started earlier in the day, studying last year's subject and tried to figure out how we would divide up the tasks.
Julien: We were well-prepared and ready for the challenge.
Are you going to participate in next year's competition?
Julien: Why not?
Adrien: It will depend on our time schedules. But, if we can do it together, then we will.
What advice would you give participants of the next Hash Code competition?
Julien: Don't hesitate to practice using subjects from the past few years. Ideally, as data parsing takes time, it's best to prepare for it beforehand. I also think it's better to avoid writing code on different computers. It's often more productive to work together as a team on one PC. This enables each member to more easily catch their teammates' mistakes. And, finally, teamwork is really the most important element.