tech-challenge-smallpuzzle-solvedCimpress’ second Tech Challenge programming contest has ended, and we are proud to announce the winners. Over 650 people registered for the contest and its $10,000 prize. The challenge was to tile an irregular, rectangular grid with squares of any size, using the fewest squares and the least time.

DimitarBOur grand prize winner is Dimitar Blagoev of Bulgaria. He is an assistant professor at Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski,” as well as a software architect at Programista, Ltd. For the Tech Challenge, Dimitar created a very fast algorithm that used dynamic programming, which he ran in parallel with a less efficient, optimal algorithm. If the optimal algorithm completed quickly enough, he returned its result, otherwise he returned the other result. Dimitar tells us that his algorithm has its roots in his freshman year of university when he conceived a solution to a similar problem, but he never implemented it because PCs at the time were not powerful enough. “The idea stayed dormant for 12 years,” Dimitar told us, until he was referred to the Tech Challenge by a former colleague. “My first thought after reading the problem’s description was, I guess it’s time to finally implement that algorithm and see if it works!” (Clearly it did.)

In his spare time, Dimitar enjoys “playing with flying drones, skiing amateurishly, relaxing in front of the TV with quality sound from the nearby floor-standers, and sharing Islay scotch whiskey with friends when an occasion emerges.” Congratulations, Dimitar!

We also congratulate our 10 runners up, who each receive a $1000 Honorable Mention prize. Their diverse solutions included greedy heuristics, linear programming, genetic and evolutionary algorithms, set partitioning, tabu search, Monte Carlo methods, simulated annealing, A* pruning, and more, alone and in combination. In alphabetical order, our Honorable Mention recipients are:

  • Laurent Alvaro and Grégory Lureau (France): Software engineers at BeTomorrow
  • Jason Ansel (USA): Director of Engineering at GoDaddy
  • Lars Beckmann (Germany): Operations Research Specialist and Software Developer
  • Eldar Bogdanov (Georgia): Rocket Scientist at Rocket Fuel
  • Philip Christiansen (Denmark): Software Developer at Nordea (with a masters in Physics from Aarhus University)
  • Duong Le (USA): PhD student in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Catholic University of America
  • Cédric Lion (France): QA Analyst (Automatic testing) at Paradigm
  • Rob Lord (UK): Student at the University of Southampton
  • Michel Vasquez and Mirsad Buljubasic (France): Researcher and PhD student (respectively) in Operation Research and Combinatorial Optimization, LGI2P Ecole des Mines d’Alès
  • Samuel Vidal (UK): C# Architect, BlueCrest Capital Management, London

Interested in seeing the code that our winners created? Most of them have independently put their solutions online, including “README” files so you can get the gist of what they did. These links lead to non-Cimpress sites:

Congratulations again to all our winners, thank you to everyone else who entered, and we hope to see you again at the next Cimpress Tech Challenge!