South African maths and IT whizz-kid, Francois Conradie, has walked off with a bronze medal at the 21st International Olympiad in Informatics for his computer programming skills.
Every year learners from more than 80 countries from all over the world meet for the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). This year, learners from 83 countries met at Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria to compete in the 21st IOI.
A team of four candidates from South Africa included Francois Conradie, from De Kuilen High School, Kuils River, Western Cape; Schalk-Willem Krüger, from Ferdinand Postma High School, Potchefstroom, North West Province; Graham Manuell, of De La Salle Holy Cross College, Johannesburg, Gauteng; and Kosie van der Merwe, Brackenfell High School, Western Cape.
Team leader was Peter Waker, manager of the Standard Bank/CSSA Computer Olympiad, assisted by Max Rabkin, post-graduate student at the University of Cape Town, and himself a previous Olympiad medal winner.
The four learners were selected from the 33 000 candidates who took part in the 2008 Standard Bank/CSSA Computer Olympiad and who received additional training at three Training Camps run by the South African Computer Olympiad Trust.
The participants spent two days – five hours per day – writing the computer programs that would solve the given problems. Francois Conradie took the lead among the South Africans by scoring 266 (out of 400) on the first day. On the next competition day he added another 179 points; sufficient to earn him a bronze medal.
Waker comments: "The problems were extremely challenging this year, and some participants from other countries had to go home with a zero score. Obtaining a bronze under those circumstances is an excellent achievement.”
Francois is in grade 12 at De Kuilen High School in Kuils River this year. He has been a finalist in the Standard Bank/CSSA Computer Olympiad for three years; 2006, 2007 and 2008.