Computational Thinking Challenge

The winner of the 2014 Computational Thinking Challenge is Dennis Callanan from Gaelcholaiste Cheatharlach, Carlow. The runner-up is Mariusz Skoczen from Borrisokane Community College. They were the only 2 entrants to discover a zero difference.

The competition has now close for 2014 but you can still run the application if you wish.

This competition, sponsored by Microsoft, is open to all students attending a secondary school in Ireland.

The challenge is to find the smallest difference between any two subsets of the numbers below. There are 40 numbers to choose from (click here for the precise values).

Click the numbers and drag them to the left or right of the balancing scales. You can submit as many solutions as you want. The student that creates the smallest difference will win the new Microsoft XBox One, with plenty of other prizes for runners up.

Challenge Results Page

Current difference:

If you choose to study Computational Thinking at NUIM, then you will learn how to write creative computer programs that can attack problems like this. Who will perform better at this task: mind or machine? We don't know. We're not even sure what the smallest difference is. Even if you think you've found the smallest difference, how can you prove that it is the smallest? After all, there are trillions of solutions to check! These are the kinds of questions that will be contemplated by students taking this exciting degree.

Top 5 Ranked Students

RankSchoolStudent NameCounty
1Borrisokane Community College, BorrisokaneMariusz SkoczenTipperary North
2Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach, EascaDennis CallananCarlow
3Abbey Community College, Wicklow TownAinsley HarriottWicklow
4Cistercian College, RoscreaRichard TynanTipperary North
5Ardscoil Ris, LimerickConor GriffinLimerick City
Show all students ranked

Although the task seems simple, it is drawn from the most challenging set of problems in computer science: the set of NP-complete problems. As yet, there is no efficient method known for solving problems of this type. If anybody finds one, they will be awarded a $1,000,000 prize.


Terms and conditions

  • Students who share solutions will be disqualified.
  • Solutions must have been identified by the named student and all details provided must be correct.
  • Email addresses will be used only to notify participants about the competition and will not be shared with any third party organisation.
  • The closing date for the competition is Monday March 31st 2014 at 5:00pm.
  • NUIM reserves the right to disqualify any entrant where terms and coditions are breached.
  • NUIM reserves the right to amend the competition or these terms and conditions at any time without prior notice.

Winner 2011-2012: Adrian O' Reilly, Christian Brothers Secondary School, Wexford Town.