Marvin J. Cetron with David A. Patten in NewsMax Magazine:
“CrazybOy” — the “handle” of programmer Bin Jin, a remarkable 18-year-old high school student from Shanghai — bested 4,200 other competitors (many of them code-writing pros with masters degrees and Ph.D.s) to win TopCoder's annual algorithm contest. He and others delivered a
Sputnik-style beat-down to the United States in the process.
Of the 70 finalists, 20 were Chinese. Ten were Russian. Six were Indonesian. Six more came from Ukraine. Four of the finalists were Canadian. Poland (population 38 million), the Philippines (92 million), and Argentina (40 million) placed three programmers apiece in the finals. The number of U.S. finalists: two. The number of U.S. champions in the nine events: none.
Experts say it's further proof that science and math illiteracy are endangering U.S. global competitiveness, and could even threaten U.S. national security. After all, it's no accident the
contest was sponsored by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) — the cryptographic “puzzle palace” in Fort Meade, Md.
Increasingly, science and national security are one. Officers in trailers at U.S. air bases pilot unmanned drones to seek and destroy terrorists in Afghanistan. (In fact, Creech Air Force Base, only 35 miles northwest of the Las Vegas resort where the TopCoder Open was held, conducts such missions daily.)
The bottom line: Lamentations about the state of U.S. science are more than fodder for PTA meetings.