The Logical Thinking Workshop

The DAIICT Student Chapter of ACM organized its very first event on 15th September 2014. It was a workshop on logical thinking. Basically it was a session where students got together and solved logic puzzles. For the B. Tech freshers, who are relatively new to the world of algorithmic problem solving, it was an opportunity to get acquainted with what computational problems are typically like, and for the masters freshers, a chance to exercise their grey cells. As this chapter aims at promoting a passionate interest in computational sciences, a logical thinking workshop was quite an apt first event.

Some of the problems covered were classic mathematical strategy-games like Nim game; quintessential logic puzzles where either there’s a sort of misleading detail that has nothing to do with the solution of the problem, or there’s irrelevant-looking information that’s actually very crucial; and the kind of questions popular with placement interviewers. Although the chapter’s aim is to promote an interest in programming too, since most of the attendees were freshers, we did not discuss how those solutions to the problems could be coded. To make the problem statements clear and the problem more intuitive, we actually played the games that the problems asked winning strategies for. (We used matchsticks, hats and the closest thing to stones that we could find.) And as in most workshops, there were prizes for the most optimal approaches. Also, during the workshop, the chapter officers Mr. Ganesh Iyer and Mr. Niyam Chhaya familiarized everyone with what ACM really is, and shared some details regarding the prestigious programming contest, ACM – ICPC.

The response that the event received from the student community was amazing. Not only did people turn up in large numbers, they stayed right till the end without getting bored (At least they said they had a good time). Most even remained behind for the small session on advanced problems that followed. They participated in the discussions, were sporting enough to volunteer when the coordinators needed people to demonstrate the situation in the problem, and were smart too. Only a handful could give actual solutions to problems, because the problems weren’t too easy, but they all made sincere attempts and came close to the solution of at least some or the other puzzle.

Most importantly, everybody got to learn something. You have lectures in college where you learn subjects, but learning something from a workshop like this is somehow equally enriching, if not more so. Isn’t it a wonderful idea, a bunch of people getting together and spending two hours getting better at something they really like to do, honing a skill they’re going to make a career out of? The opportunity to interact with and learn from people who share your interests is one of the most wonderful things university life has to offer. And one should make the most of it. That’s what college is supposed to be about – exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge, learning together. You gain so much more out of your student life when everybody around you simply loves what they’re studying, everybody’s learning from each other, everybody’s getting motivated by each other. That is the kind of environment ACM DA has a vision of creating. This workshop was a reasonably successful first step towards it. All in all, it was an enriching experience, both for the coordinators and for everybody who attended it.