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Computer Students Leaving For Japan and World Finals Glory

March 9, 2007

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037
(800) 837-2911, ext. 4037

Mercer's Binary Bears Computer Programming team, L to R: John Wright, Britt Daniel and David Thomas, practice for the 2007 ACM International Computer Programming Contest on a recent Saturday.

MACON — Mercer’s Binary Bears computer programming team is about to take on one of the world’s toughest competitions, the 2007 ACM International Computer Programming Contest, which bills itself as the “battle of the brains.” The team leaves Sunday, March 11, for Tokyo, Japan, to pit its problem-solving prowess against 88 teams from around the world.  Of the 21 U.S. teams in the competition, Mercer has the smallest undergraduate enrollment.

The competition will take place Thursday, March 15, at 8 a.m. local time in Tokyo, 13 hours ahead of Macon, or 7 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 14. The latest updates will be posted on the web at

“It truly is a David versus Goliath in terms of the size of the other universities,” said Andy Digh, associate professor of Computer Science and the team’s advisor. “But these guys are as talented as any of the teams out there, and they’ve worked so hard, we’re confident we can do well.”

The Binary Bears team is made up of senior Britt Daniel, of Grovetown, a computer science and math major; junior David Thomas of Macon, a computer science and math major; and senior John Wright of Warner Robins, a computer science major. The three took second place in the 2006 ACM Southeastern Programming Contest on Oct. 27, 2006, and earned an at-large berth in the finals.

As in the regionals, the world finals pit teams of three undergraduate students against eight or more complex, real-world problems, with a grueling five-hour deadline. Using one computer, competitors must race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance. Judging is relentlessly strict. The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time is declared the winner.

“I’m really excited, but I feel more confident than I did before we started to prepare,” said David Thomas. “We’ve practiced using old World Finals problem sets and we’ve placed well several times, so I think we’re ready.”

The other 20 universities across the nation that will join Mercer in representing the United States in the international computer programming face-off are California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Cornell University; Duke University; Harvard University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey;  Stanford University; University of Central Florida; University of  Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Minnesota; University of Nebraska – Lincoln; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Texas at Austin; University of Texas at Dallas; University of Wisconsin – Madison; Vanderbilt University, and Virginia Tech.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit

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