Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Polish software engineers show-off the legacy of pre-war "Enigma" code-breakers

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 13, 2004

Teams of Polish programmers have been winning large competitions and showing off the prowess of Poland's top universities, reports Clay Bullwinkel, who works with Silicon Valley companies setting up hardware design partnerships in Poland.

Clay tells Silicon Valley Watcher:


For the third time in a row Tomasz Czajka of the University of Warsaw won the annual worldwide Top Coder software programming contest sponsored by Microsoft, Intel, Yahoo and Nvidia.

In the university competition, Czajka's University of Warsaw was 3rd behind MIT and Stanford. In the country competition, Poland finished second to the U.S.

In 2003 University of Warsaw won the worldwide university team title in the ACM-ICPC contest held at Baylor University: The 2004 World Champions I was told that the University of Warsaw had several different teams, all of the same ability, but chose to send only one. Most of the major universities (including academies and polytechnics) in Poland do not even enter these contests. The U.S., Russia and China all had a dozen or more entries.

Algorithmic programming and problem solving have a long tradition in Polish universities. In 1939 three Polish algorithm experts did what teams from France and England could not. They solved the current version of the Nazi coding machine "Enigma" without which the huge deciphering effort at Bletchley Park outside of London would have not have been possible. Many historians have said that cracking the Enigma code was crucial to Allied victory.

The following page has the ranking charts in the right hand margin. The article on this page is awkwardly written --- perhaps not a native English speaker. TopCoder

(Send a note to Silicon Valley Watcher if you'd like to contact Clay)

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