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Aug 27, 2010  |  Vote 0    0

Double win for student at international competition

Scarborough Mirror

Brian Bi is an international double medalist.

In the last two months, the 17-year-old chemistry and programming student participated as a Canadian team member for both the International Chemistry Olympiad and the International Olympiad of Informatics.

It was a nice touch after graduating from Woburn Collegiate Institute in Scarborough with a 96 per cent average and being accepted, with a scholarship, to the University of Waterloo.

Despite finishing above the Top 60th percentile in each competition, Bi feels the most important part of these competitions is meeting new people.

"The best part of the whole competition was the people. Chemistry students are very social," said Bi.

"They are two different events, but they both share the purpose of building relations between countries and providing a top-level competition for top level students."

In mid-July, Bi travelled from his family home on Avenue Road to Japan for the Chemistry Olympiad. He spent a week writing exams and competing with the world's best youth. All of the team's expenses were paid for by sponsors, which was a nice change for Bi, who doesn't have the opportunity to travel on his own.

Chemistry is definitely one of Bi's strengths, but programming and informatics are his real passions. He learned the basics from the mother of fellow Woburn graduate and national informatics teammate, Jacob Plachta.

Bi doesn't program video games but chooses to specialize in algorithms, which are complicated mathematical equations typically converted into computer coding because of their length and complexity. In the Informatics Olympiad, held in Waterloo Aug. 14 to 21, he was expected to formulate, code and run an algorithm to solve particular problems faster and more accurate than his competition.

"For example, when you book a flight, the computer picks a flight and then a connecting flight to get you where you want to go. It is using an algorithm. It searches through its data base of information and determines what the best fit is," said Bi.

Canada has been participating in the Informatics Olympiad since 1989 and the Chemistry Olympiad since 1986. Hundreds of students try out for the teams each year, but only a handful are selected.

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