Professor Benjamin Burton has recently visited Tehran, Iran, for the 29th International Olympiad in Informatics(IOI) which is the premier competition worldwide for high school students in computer programming and algorithm design, with teams from 80–90 countries competing each year.

Professor Burton, of UQ’s School of Mathematics and Physics, is the Australian representative on the International Committee (2015–2017), which oversees the Olympiad as a whole, and he has completed a six-year term on the International Scientific Committee (2009–2014), which oversees the scientific content and development of the IOI.

He travelled with Australia’s 2017 team, which performed strongly to win two gold and one silver medal at the 2017 Olympiad, held from July 28 to August 4. He also attended the 11th IOI conference.

Professor Burton has a long-term interest in enrichment programs for gifted and talented high school students.

“I have been involved in the Australian Informatics Olympiad program since its inception in 1998, acting as Director of Training (1999–2008), Team Leader (2001–2008) and Deputy Leader (1999–2000),” he said.

“Our activities include the Queensland Informatics & Programming club, a University of Queensland-based forerunner to the Australian Informatics Olympiad program.

“This is a great place for interested high school students to meet like-minded people, do some programming and learn about algorithms.”

The International Olympiad in Informatics is one of five international science Olympiads. Its primary goal is to stimulate interest in informatics (computing science) and information technology.

The 2017 Australian team (Richard Gong, Charles Jameson, Jerry Mao and Angus Ritossa) spent a year in exams and intensive training to make the cut.

They succeeded amongst more than 5000 other students in extension programs and qualifying exams. From that initial cohort, some 30 attended two training schools before the final selection of the team.

Detailed results of the Tehran competition are located at IOI 2017. The 30th IOI will take place in Japan next year.

The selection process for the team to represent Australia at the 2018 International Olympiad in Informatics is already underway.

Students from across the country are now preparing to sit one of the qualifying competitions, the Australian Informatics Olympiad, to be held on 31 August.

Professor Burton’s commitment to talented high school students includes his continuing to teach courses in surfaces and knot theory at the National Mathematics Summer School, a two-week residential school held each January.  The next school will be held on 7-20 January at ANU, Canberra.

Pic caption:  Professor Burton (left) with the winning Australian team: Team Leader Robert Newey, Jerry Mao, Charles Jameson, Richard Gong, Angus Ritossa, Deputy Team Leader Joshua Lau.