April 2007

March Madness UT Dallas Style

UT Dallas celebrated its own brand of March Madness, scoring and winning in several academic venues.

We’ll start with the Final Four... of chess. In a matchup that made some consider what you’d get if Bobby Knight coached Bobby Fischer, our chess team outdid itself once again, winning the national championship by beating Duke and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

In the process, UT Dallas sustained an unbroken, 60-match streak of undefeated games. Our team director Jim Stallings tells us this appears to be an all-time win record, based on his research back to the 1930s on chess competitions. Coach Rade Milovanovic’s decision to close practices was credited with keeping opponents guessing.

The team’s victory made headlines from ESPN and The Dallas Morning News sports page to Forbes, The International Herald Tribute and The New York Times, which carried an in-depth piece on offering chess scholarships as a means of increasing  academic quality. (Interestingly, this successful, decade-long strategy at UT Dallas has recently been adopted by Texas Tech.)

In another field, our debate team made its fourth consecutive appearance at the nationals, assuring UT Dallas was well-represented in the event.

Debate and chess competitions were complemented by a third March match in which the UT Dallas team turned in a great performance at a world level. This contest was in Tokyo at the World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming sponsored by IBM.

 
 

UT Dallas Associate Professor Ivor Page, along with students Jack Lindamood, Matthew Dempsky and Michelle Berger, celebrate their success at the International Collegiate Programming Contest in Tokyo.

UT Dallas came in third overall among national competitors, joining MIT and Cal Tech as the only United States universities to rank in the top 20. UT Dallas’ team, two undergrads and a grad student coached by Associate Professor of computer science Ivor Page, finished 15th overall in a field of 88. It was their first world competition.

The teams were asked to solve 10 computer programming problems within five hours. A sample problem involved blood typing. Specifically, given the A-B-O blood types and Rh factors of two parents or one parent and child, students were asked to compute all possible blood types of the third family member. The programs had to achieve  completely correct answers to multiple versions of each problem within strict time limits. The winner, University of Warsaw, managed eight. UT Dallas managed five.

What value is there in competing with other institutions?
What all these contests have in common is that they demand various forms of strategic thinking under pressure—real-world problem-solving that will eventually be required of most of our students.

The need for bright minds capable of producing innovative results is without question. In the words of an IBM spokesperson at the programming competition, “These students will be responsible for the next great technological advancements that will profoundly impact science, business and society.”

At UT Dallas, we’re proud to be helping those students create the future.



About This Newsletter

The President's Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, President of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the university.