Eitan Elbaum, a student at the Jerusalem College of Technology’s (JCT) Torah U’Mada Yeshiva High School, won a silver medal at the prestigious International Olympiad of Informatics (IOI) that was held in Indonesia last month. Since Israel and Indonesia do not maintain diplomatic relations, the Israeli team participated over Zoom while the other students at the competition were present in person.
The IOI is one of the International Science Olympiads for secondary school students, and the second largest science Olympiad in terms of the number of participating countries (346 students from 90 countries this year). The first IOI was held in 1989 in Pravetz, Bulgaria.
The contest consists of two days of competitive computer programming/coding and problem-solving of algorithmic nature. The organizers say that to deal with problems involving very large amounts of data, it is necessary to have not only programmers, “but also creative coders, who can dream up what it is that the programmers need to tell the computer to do. The hard part isn’t the programming, but the mathematics underneath it.”
Each day, participants were presented with three complex questions that they had to solve in under five hours. Exceptional high school students from various countries compete in a high-profile algorithmic competition to sharpen their informatics skills—such as problem analysis, design of algorithms and data structures, programming, and testing. The main objective is to challenge the best and the brightest of the next generation of computer science students while fostering friendly international relationships among students and educators worldwide.
As best they can over Zoom…
Rabbi Raphael Bublil, head of the Torah U’Mada Yeshiva High School located on the JCT campus, said, “The connection between the holy and academic worlds provides a myriad of opportunities to students striving for technological excellence. We’re proud of Eitan for his hard work and other members of his delegation for their impressive achievements and wish them continued success.”
The school offers a unique educational experience for gifted religious students from grades 7-13 and features high-level Torah study combined with full high school matriculation as well as an academic degree in science and technology from JCT.
Elbaum, 17, was one of four Israelis participating in the competition in Indonesia. It was his fourth time representing Israel in an international competition. He first participated in a computer science competition in the 7th grade.
“I never thought I would reach the level to become a member of the delegation and represent Israel, and I certainly did not imagine I would bring back a medal,” Elbaum said, adding, “I learned that if you invest, work hard, and believe, nothing is impossible.”
Elbaum says he owes much of his success to Torah U’Mada. “At 13, I was learning Python and C++ programs that many don’t encounter until much later in their studies. This definitely gave me a leg up when I faced off against other computer science students from around the world,” Elbaum said.