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'Battle of the Brains' has Duke in Yet Another Championship Run

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DURHAM — Duke University's basketball teams are not the only Blue Devils after a championship title. A three-man Duke team and their coach will compete with more than 60 other teams in a battle of the brains.

The present and former Duke students are busy practicing for the International Collegiate Programming Contest.

Three person teams have up to five hours to complete several complex computer programming problems.

"I take the easiest one that's very computer science related and just sit down and do it," says contestant Meetesh Karia.. "Andrew and John just go for the math stuff and start working on it."

It's a battle against the clock requiring logic and mental endurance. The team can work with only one computer.

"While one person is typing up a solution to some problem you can be writing out long hand the solution to one or more other problems," says contestant Andrew Dittmer.

Dittmer's strength in math comes through in practice sessions.

Success in the contest can pay off big. Each winning team member gets $10,000 and great job offers.

Speed and making no mistakes are keys to success.

"There's always the elegant solution and then there's the quick, dirty solution which often works better in a contest," explains coach Nathan Bronson.

There is no doubt these are smart guys and Karia says the contest will hone their skills.

Duke teams have gone to the programming finals four times and have finished as high as third.

The competition takes place April 8-11 in The Netherlands.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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