And the Winners Are...!
The three top contestants in the 2006 JavaOne Conference Slot Car Racing Programming Challenge got their last chance to win the â€œgoldâ€ at the Friday morning keynote in which James Gosling called them onstage for the white-knuckle last go around the track.
The contestants wrote hard real-time code to read the sensors on the track and set the track voltage, in order to try to get the car around as fast as possible. Most of the attempts in the week-long competition crashed. A team from Germany, composed of three high school students and a college freshman, who got to the JavaOne Conference by winning a programming contest in Germany, had the best time to date before the Friday keynote. The German team was highly organized: while one raced, the other two got in line, while the fourth coded. In so doing, they formed an effective coding loop that enabled them to learn a great deal in a short period of time.
â€œWeâ€™ve had quite a crew of dedicated people writing code for their slot cars,â€ said Gosling. â€œPeople really got into it, trying to make it to the top three. We went through a dry run-through of this last night with everyone using their hot tune versions and every car splattered. So they spent until midnight de-tuning things to make it around the track.â€
In addition to the German team, the other finalists were Robert Chu and Peter Whitfield. Iâ€™m impressed that Peter made it this far, given that by his own admission, he is not much of a Java programmer and had to rely on Google to to figure out how to do multi-dimensional arrays. The key to success seems to be understanding physical systems as much as programming sophistication.
After some preliminary glitches, the three finalists ran their cars. Robert Chu placed first, the German team second, and Peter Whitfield third. They each received ribbons, plaques, much applause, and an enduring memory of the 2006 JavaOne Conference.
For more background on this contest, I've blogged on
it previously and there's more info here too: