Finnish Olympiad in Informatics announces winners: a study place and international contests as incentives for secondary school students

Finnish Olympiad in Informatics 2019 winners are Santeri Toivonen, Roope Salmi and Olli Järviniemi. The competition may guarantee a study place at a university for the best competitors or take them to international programming competitions.
Henrik Lievonen ja Miska Kananen. Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.
Henrik Lievonen (left) and Miska Kananen (right) consider a possible study place a really great incentive to prepare for the competition. Image: Matti Ahlgren.
Datatähti 2019 voittajat
Datatähti 2019 winners. Image; Jukka Suomela.

The annual Finnish Olympiad in Informatics (Datatähti) has taken place again at the Aalto University Department of Computer Science. Winners of the 2019 competition are Santeri Toivonen from Eira High School for Adults, Roope Salmi from Olari Upper Secondary School and Olli Järviniemi from Päivölä Institute. Roope Salmi and Olli Järviniemi are also among the top three contestants in the upper secondary school mathematics competition.

Through the competition, it is possible to have direct access to a study place in the fields of technology, mathematics and science at most Finnish universities.

After the final round, the best contestants are invited to participate in programming coaching at the university. On the basis of the coaching, Finland’s representatives are selected for the international Olympiads in informatics. The Baltic Olympiad in Informatics (BOI) for 2019 will be organised in April in Tartu, and the worldwide International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Azerbaijan in August.

Game programming, algorithm clubs and competitive coding

‘A possible study place is a really great incentive to prepare for the competition’, Miska Kananen says. Henrik Lievonen agrees.

Henrik Lievonen participated in the competition in 2015 and is currently studying physics for the third year at Aalto University.

‘In lower secondary school, my mother encouraged me to apply to a summer course in game programming organised by the University of Helsinki. From there, the university lecturer Antti Laaksonen invited me to join a weekly algorithm club. I had coded in the past, too, and here I learned the principles of competitive programming.’

Miska Kananen, in turn, took part in the preliminary competition for the first time in 2016, mainly to check out the materials. In 2017, after the initial tension had worn off, he focused on enjoying the coding, and placed fifth in the final competition. Miska Kananen then completed his national service and started his computer science studies at Aalto University in autumn 2018.

‘I went to school in Jyväskylä, and the university organised game programming there. I took part in many courses, and I also worked there.’

A possible study place is a really great incentive to prepare for the competition.

Miska Kananen

Henrik Lievonen and Miska Kananen have designed tasks for this year’s competition. Henrik Lievonen’s own experiences from the competition are still fresh in his memory.

‘The competition was preceded by a three-day coaching, and after the first day, I was pretty nervous. Then I got used to it. The training was more intense for the international competition. For me, the international competitions have been week-long trips to exotic locations, such as Australia, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.’

Miska Kananen, in turn, has gained international competition experience from Norway in 2017.

Finnish Olympiad in Informatics is organised by the Aalto University Department of Computer Science and the Department of Computer Science of the University of Helsinki in collaboration with the Finnish Association for Teachers of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Informatics (MAOL). Anyone can participate in the preliminary competition online, and the best contestants are invited to the final round.

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