Michael Haddox-Schatz, a computer programmer at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, out-coded more than 20,000 participants to win a spot in Google's Global Code Jam 2006 Championship Round. Out of 100 finalists, Haddox-Schatz is one of just seven savvy programmers from the United States set to take part in the October 27 finals in New York City.
Code Jam is an international programming competition consisting of three online rounds and an onsite Championship Round. In each round, programmers write computer code to solve three problems. "A typical problem might ask you to write a program that calculates a player's odds of winning a specific board game or how fast a spaceship can travel through an asteroid belt," Haddox-Schatz says.
The participants whose programs solve the problems faster and more accurately than their competitors win. Participants can also gain points by pointing out problems (bugs) in other competitors' code. The programming languages used in the competition include Java, C++, C#, VB.NET and Python. "I program in Java, both here at Jefferson Lab and in the contest," he says.
At Jefferson Lab, Haddox-Schatz works in the Scientific Computing Group, where he writes code that helps scientists store and manipulate experimental data. "I help develop and manage the application that manages the batch farm and tape silo for the scientific computing done at the Lab," he explains, "Solving the kinds of problems presented in the competition helps me improve the coding skills I need for my job, giving me practice in thinking about processes in an orderly way and helping me visualize new ways of solving problems. It also provides practice in converting ideas into the correct code and helps me write code faster, more efficiently, and with fewer bugs."
"This is a great example of the type of high caliber people we employ at Jefferson Lab," says Roy Whitney, Jefferson Lab's Chief Information Officer, "We support Michael and his participation in this competition, and we're proud to see that he's done so well."
Haddox-Schatz has also competed in TopCoder international coding competitions, where he is ranked as one of the top 150 programmers in the world. Most of his competitors know him by his handle, madking. "That was a nickname given to me by a wife of a friend of mine. She thought I looked like a picture of Mad King Ludwig [of Bavaria]," he explains.
This is Haddox-Schatz's fourth competition in as many years and his second appearance at the Code Jam finals. He competed in last year's Championship Round in September at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Ca.
For more information on Google's Global Code Jam 2006, see: http://www.google.com/press/annc/codejam06finals.html
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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