With such a high productivity
factor that Smalltalk gives us, reaction times to market changes have enabled us to beat most of our competitors.

Dr. Colin Lewis, Vice-President, JPMorgan

How One Cincom Engineer Got Over 450 Programmers to “Bite” on Smalltalk

Posted on in Categories Events

What do a Raspberry Pi kit, a cool Thermos coffee mug, an even cooler pair of sunglasses and a bunch of t-shirts have in common? They were all prizes that Cincom Smalltalk Senior Software Engineer, Jerry Kott and his wife, Alena, won for their project “Medusa.”

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s Medusa, other than a Greek mythical monster?”  It’s the name Jerry chose for the battlesnake algorithm that he presented for BattleSnake 2017—a programming competition that was recently held in Victoria, BC, where teams of students and developers build web-based AIs for the classic arcade game “Snake.” In addition to Jerry’s skills in creating the algorithm, he also had some valuable assistance from his wife, Alena Kottova, whose contributions helped Medusa come in second place (from over 450 participants with about 150 teams) in the final round of the advanced category. And we’re proud to say that Jerry and Alena wrote the algorithm in Smalltalk using SiouX and AppeX in Cincom® VisualWorks®.

Jerry is very excited, not just about the fantastic second-place win but also about what happened prior to the actual tournament.

Medusa had made its name throughout the afternoon by beating a bunch of “professional AI” algorithms (a.k.a. bounty snakes) written by several local software companies, which is how Jerry won all of the cool prizes. However, Jerry got more satisfaction in noticing how everybody was asking what programming language Medusa was written in. Jerry was very happy to dramatically pause and then say the magic word: “Smalltalk!”

Jerry realizes that the real winner in this competition isn’t him, it’s Smalltalk.

Jerry made many new contacts, and he hopes that there might be some follow-up opportunities for encouraging people to take a look at Smalltalk. He also hopes to plug into some other upcoming tech events in Victoria as well as to recruit some new Smalltalkers.

We congratulate Jerry and Alena on the fine work they did to accomplish this achievement and in making people stand up and notice Smalltalk.

If you’d like to watch a replay of the final game, click here. Also, if you would like to see the code that was used for the project (written in Smalltalk), click here to access the repository on GitHub where you can download it.