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Faculty of Arts and Sciences
 
Computer Science students place first in Lebanon in the Google Hash Code Competition

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​​​​​Three students from the Department of Computer Science (CMPS) in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences achieved first place in Lebanon in the Hash Code competition, a team-based, real-time programming event organized by Google. The event was open to students and industry professionals in teams from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 
Antoine Zouein, Mohammad Ali Beydoun, and Mohammad Zein El Deen placed first in Lebanon and 10th in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with their team “Shawarma Djej Toum Zyede." They competed against other teams from AUB, both in CMPS and Engineering, as well as teams from other universities, and professionals in the region. Countries represented in the challenge included Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Palestine, and the UAE.
 
The challenge was to compute an optimal distribution of YouTube videos across cache servers to minimize average latency to be solved in real time over four hours on the evening of February 23, 2017. Participants were able to choose their programming language and were encouraged to be creative in their solutions. Shawarma Djej Toum Zyede chose C++, a current programming language useful for many different problems.
 
“The problem we solved was interesting because Google highly depends on it. If you're watching YouTube videos, instead of having to stream the video from a datacenter thousands of kilometers away, you could stream it from a nearby cache server, and this would decrease your average waiting time. The problem is: given that cache servers have limited storage space, how do you decide what videos to put where?” explained Mohammad Ali Beydoun, a member of AUB's top-placed team and a senior undergraduate student in CMPS.
 
“This problem has no known efficient and exact solution, so the goal of the competition is to design an algorithm that gives very reasonable ‘close enough’ results, but very efficiently. In CMPS, we train constantly for the prestigious ACM-ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest). This gives us an edge because we're used to a competitive environment, and we can write code fairly quickly, with no bugs. In fact, our first submission to the problem only took us 30 minutes to implement, and it scored 1.7 million points. We ended the contest at around 2.147 million points after multiple improvements," added Beydoun.
 
The Department of Computer Science encourages students to enter competitions both nationally and internationally. Chairperson Wassim El Hajj and the participating students explained that by entering competitions on a regular basis, students at CMPS are prepared for real world challenges and high-pressure situations in the workplace, and are given an opportunity to practice the real-time problem solving skills which are essential for a successful career in the technology sector.





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