[BIO99 Logo] The British Informatics Olympiad is
the computing competition for schools and colleges.
BIO'99 is sponsored by Data Connection.
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Press release
09 October 1999
For immediate publication
BIO'99 - the national computing competition for schools

Top British students going for gold


Four outstanding students travel today to Turkey to represent Britain at the prestigious International Olympiad in Informatics. They won their places in competition with over 1000 students from 120 schools and colleges who entered the 1999 British Informatics Olympiad, and now go on to compete against teams from 70 different countries. On Monday 11 and Wednesday 13 October they will face two days of tests, and we will know how they have done on Friday 15 October. Antony Rix, competition organiser, said "we hope we can beat last year's best-ever performance, when the team brought back a gold and two bronze medals." The team travel expenses-paid thanks to sponsorship by Data Connection, a world-leading software development company based in the UK.

Contents of this release

Briefing - contact details - photographs - internet resources - competition background - team profiles


This morning the four winners of the British schools' competition in computer programming are flying to the Turkish resort of Antalya, where they will represent Britain at the 11th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). The competition consists of two gruelling days of tests. In these they have to write computer programs to solve complex problems with a strict time limit. The rest of the IOI will give them a chance to relax on the beautiful coastline of Antalya or take in some of the history of the region's 2,500-year-old archaeological sites. Thankfully this location is 500 miles away from the epicentre of the recent earthquake, and was undamaged.

The students were selected in the 1999 British Informatics Olympiad. This competition is open to all schools and colleges around Britain. About 1100 students took a 3 hour paper in which they faced tasks including modelling rays bouncing off atoms in a mysterious black box, creating rivers of numbers and programming a computer to find out the scores in each round of a game given only the total. The top 15 went on to the final, at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, where their capabilities were stretched with written problems on sharing out cake and finding cross-references in literature, and programming tasks including zig-zagging numbers, shuffling cards, and helping two spies to map out a secret building. Even the very best found it hard to solve all the problems in the limited time available.

Antony Rix, organiser of the BIO, outlined the challenge that the team face. "Last year's team achieved Britain's best-ever performance at the International Olympiad, winning a gold and two bronze medals, so our current team have a hard act to follow. This year we have four exceptionally talented students, who have trained hard in preparation for this competition, and my hopes are high that they can do even better. Turkey looks like it's going to provide excellent experience in solving programming tasks under pressure, and there should be time to relax and enjoy ourselves as well."

Presenting prizes to the winners of the BIO, Phil May, one of the founding directors of Data Connection, said, "Data Connection is proud to sponsor BIO'99. As one of the UK's most successful software development companies, we base our success on recruiting exceptionally talented people and training them to become world-class software developers, managers and marketeers. BIO'99 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 and full-time employees."

The team members are to be:

Contact details

More information on the BIO may be obtained from:

Frances Sloan
Skill IT Project Manager
IT NTO, 16 Berners Street, London W1P 3DD
Phone: 0171 580 6677
E-mail: (see contact details from home page)

Becky Rogers
Data Connection Limited
100 Church Street, Enfield EN2 6BQ
Phone: 0181 366 1177
Fax: 0181 363 2927
E-mail: http://www.dataconnection.com/
Web: www.dataconnection.com

During the IOI the team can be contacted by mobile phone on 07803 044 741, or from abroad on +44 7803 044 741. Messages can also be sent to Antony Rix at (see contact details from home page)


Copyright-free photographs of the team members are available on the BIO website. Pictures from the IOI will be made available on the website after 16 October.

Internet resources

The BIO publishes a large amount of information on the Internet at http://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/bio/
Please feel free to publish a link to this website.

The IOI's progress can be followed at http://olympiads.win.tue.nl/ioi/ioi99/

Background information

The British Informatics Olympiad

The British Informatics Olympiad (BIO) is an annual competition in computer programming for students at secondary schools and sixth form colleges. Any student who is under 19, in full time pre-university education and resident in mainland Britain, is eligible to take part and has the chance to win the prize of an expenses-paid trip to the prestigious International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).

The first stage of the BIO is a three-hour exam, taken at school, in which students solve problems with the aid of a computer. These are marked by a teacher and submitted for moderation. Based on the results of this exam, the top 15 competitors are invited to the BIO final in Cambridge over the Easter holiday. The best four make up the team to represent Britain at the IOI.

Organisation and aims

The BIO is a non-profit making organisation founded in 1995, aiming to encourage students to take an active interest in information technology, to allow them to meet and exchange ideas, and to give the best the chance to compete at the annual International Olympiad in Informatics. The BIO's organisers are Antony Rix, Richard Forster, and Fieke Dekkers, who are all past contestants at the IOI.

In order to make the BIO as inclusive as possible, it is free to enter. This can only be achieved thanks to the aid of commercial sponsorship. BIO'99 is sponsored by Data Connection, one of the UK's most successful software development companies. Founded in 1981, Data Connection now has over 190 employees. The company's outstanding success has been driven by a total commitment to quality and a high level of business generated overseas (recognised by their second Queen’s Award for Export Achievement). Data Connection recruit world-class graduates, and offer pre-university work and vacation work to exceptional students.

Team profiles

Thomas Barnet-Lamb

Age 17

Bury St Edmunds

Westminster School

University plans
Currently applying to study Maths at Cambridge University (Trinity College), starting in October 2000.

Music (sing: mostly choral music, especially enjoy renaissance stuff; member of school choir/chamber singers. Play piano) Drama (played the 'idiot', Andrew Aguecheek, in schools' Twelth Night production; sang in school musical), Debating (on school team), Swimming....

Did you enjoy the BIO?
Hmmm.... a tough one that. Of course!!!

Would you recommend others to take part, and why?
Yes. The BIO is a great confidence booster at all levels. Its effect of encouraging people to solve hard problems can only act to increase their skills and enjoyment at programming: hence people derive a lot of benefit from taking part. This is especially important in an area like informatics, which changes in the world economy are making more and more important day by day. Experience and prestige such as that the BIO/IOI gives can only be a good thing.

Tomasz Czajka

Age 18

Stalowa Wola, Poland

Warwick School

University plans
Planning to apply to study Maths and CompSci at Warsaw University starting in October 2000.

Volleyball, bridge.

Did you enjoy the BIO?

Would you recommend others to take part, and why?
Sure, it is great fun, and you can go to IOI...

Tom Garnett

Age 17


Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge

University plans
Currently applying to study Maths at Cambridge University (Jesus College), starting in October 2000.

Windsurfing, reading, juggling, ice skating, table tennis (+ computers of course :)

Did you enjoy the BIO?
Yes, it is nice to meet others with a real interest in (algorithmic) programming - 'shop talk' in college generally meets with little enthusiasm.

Would you recommend others to take part, and why?
Certainly, if you have an interest in this sort of programming then it is nice to solve problems in an area most Computing courses don't really touch upon. Besides, you may find that you do better than expected (as I did).

Jamie Shotton

Age 18


Magdalen College School, Oxford

University plans
Just started his studies in Computer Science at Queens' College, Cambridge

Piano, squash, tennis

Did you enjoy the BIO?

Would you recommend others to take part, and why?
Yes because it gives you an important insight into how to write algorithms, and is good fun.

The British Informatics Olympiad