Thursday 23 August 2018
The Australian Informatics Olympiad (AIO) is a national computer programming competition held annually in late August/early September. Students write short computer programs to solve four problems that vary in difficulty. The competition does not test computer literacy or knowledge, but is focused on problem solving through programming skills.
There are two papers: Intermediate for students up to Year 10, and Senior for students up to Year 12. Each paper consists of four problems, and students submit the source code for their solutions online during the three-hour contest.
The AIO is a suitable exercise for an IT class that has learnt some programming, or enthusiastic students who have taught themselves. Students will require some programming experience: in particular, they must be able to write code that can open, read and write to files; declare variables and arrays; use loops, conditional (if) statements and simple arithmetic operations. Students can quickly learn how to code for free through Codecademy.
The allowed languages are C, C++, C#, Java, Pascal, PHP and Python. Students only need to know one of these languages in order to compete. Those new to programming may find Python the easiest of these languages to learn.
Australian high school students interested in computer programming have very few outlets to express and be recognised for their abilities. The AIO challenges these students, identifies talent and can open the door to deeper engagement with problems in computer science.
Every participant will receive a certificate, and the top 25 students will be invited to a 10-day intensive training school where they will learn higher-level algorithms and data structures. Some students will be asked to participate in invitation only events from which the top four will be selected to represent Australia in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).
All interested students are encouraged to sign up to the AIOC Training site where they can view past AIO problems, submit their solutions online and receive instant marked feedback. These exercises are recommended as fun activities for IT classes or as extracurricular activities for students who are learning programming.