Data Connection BIO'96
The British Informatics Olympiad, sponsored by Data Connection.
Press release - BIO'96
2 August 1996
For immediate publication

Young British computing talent achieve medal success at International Olympiad


Britain's athletes are still competing in Atlanta, but for the four sixth formers who represented Britain at the 8th International Olympiad in Informatics the games are now over. They were selected from the tough national competition, and flew to Hungary for the annual computer programming olympics. The four had two days of tests, solving problems on a PC, competing for medals against 215 competitors from 56 countries. The British team returned with the two top bronze medals.

The British Informatics Olympiad is organised by Antony Rix, Christ's College, Cambridge, and Richard Forster, Trinity College, Oxford, and is sponsored by Data Connection Limited.

On Thursday 25 July, four of the top pre-university computing students in Britain travelled to Veszprém, Hungary, to represent Britain at the 8th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). The four team members, Michael Anderson, Andrew Cooke, Alex Evans and Justin Santa Barbara, all receive their trip expenses-paid thanks to the sponsors of the British Informatics Olympiad, Data Connection Limited.

56 countries competed in Hungary at the week-long IOI, two days of which were spent on a total of ten hours of computing tests. Competitors were asked to solve algorithmic programming tasks, such as job processing and sorting sequences, as well as writing a program to beat the computer in a logic game. Marking was done by computer, running an automatic evaluator written specifically for the competition.

The participants competed for medals and other prizes, the winners showing a combination of skill, experience, fast thinking and endurance. The standard of all the competitors was very high this year, and mark boundaries very tight. The British team won the top two bronze medals; another one point (out of 200) and these would have been silver. The IOI regulations prohibit the ranking of countries, the competition is run on an individual basis, but inevitably comparisons are made. The Chinese team headed the table of combined marks, with the British team coming a respectable 21st out of 56. This was the highest position for an English speaking team, beating the USA, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Singapore.

The rest of the Olympiad consisted of cultural and social visits and the chance to meet young programmers from all over the world.

The British team was selected from the 70 schools and colleges in Scotland, England and Wales who took part in the 1996 British Informatics Olympiad (BIO). In the first round of the BIO they wrote complicated computer programs finding amicable numbers, playing the 'game of life', and fitting dominoes together. The tasks set for the final were even tougher, with written questions and further computing problems. Despite the difficulty of the programming tests, some of them produced correct solutions in as little as half an hour.

The team was announced on Sunday 14 April. Clive Partridge, a director of Data Connection, awarded the prizes. He said, 'Data Connection is proud to sponsor the BIO'96. As one of the UK's most successful software engineering companies, we base our success on recruiting exceptionally talented people and training them to become world-class software engineers, managers and marketeers. BIO'96 has succeeded in attracting some of the country's brightest and best young computing students. The IOI team is a formidable collection of talent - exactly the sort of people we recruit as both pre-university students and full-time employees.'

Team members

Michael Anderson (top bronze)
Royal Grammar School, Guildford

Andrew Cooke
Aylesbury Grammar School

Alex Evans (bronze)
Westminster School

Justin Santa Barbara
Eton College

Further Information

More details both the BIO and IOI can be obtained from the following people.

Richard Forster
Team Leader at IOI'96 in Hungary and Director of the British Informatics Olympiad
Trinity College
Oxford OX1 3BH
e-mail: (see contact details from home page)

Antony Rix, Chairman
Chairman of the British Informatics Olympiad
Christ's College
Cambridge, CB2 3BU
e-mail: (see contact details from home page)

Justine McLennan
Data Connection Limited
100 Church Street
Enfield, EN2 6BQ
Phone 0181 366 1177
Fax 0181 363 1468

Information, photos and press release archive on the Web:

Photographs available, taken at the final at Christ's College, Cambridge (these are copyright-free and may be used for publication):

The British Informatics Olympiad