The competition, in its 17th year, is run by the society's Young Professionals Group for teams of up to five people aged 18 to 30, who solve problems against the clock using C or C++.
The final on 8 April, hosted and sponsored by IT services group EDS, will feature 13 finalists, including three teams from IBM, two from Hewlett-Packard's Agilent Technologies subsidiary, plus Vavo.com, an Internet community service.
Vavo.com won the Liverpool heat but the other winners were university teams.
The full final line up is:
"The heat at IBM's Hursley Laboratory in Hampshire was especially strong, with both Trinity College and one of the IBM teams completing four of the six problems," says organiser Andrzej Plocki. "They were separated only by the elapsed time.
"Imperial College came third in the Hursley heat by solving three problems and another IBM team came fourth with two. In some other heats that would have been enough to come top."
Plocki says many teams and individuals return year after year, often taking part for the first time while at university.
"Three members of IBM's overall champions team from last year were involved again this year, but this time they were split across other teams," Plocki says.
Chief judge Giles Chapman of animation software specialist MathEngine - himself a past winner of the competition - praised the standard of those taking part.
"Teams gradually come and go over the years, but one thing that doesn't change is the degree of excellence that the competitors demonstrate, solving difficult problems to tight deadlines under testing conditions," Chapman says.
Last year, IBM and another team from industry, CMP Media, took the top two places in the final, breaking the university stranglehold of recent years.
The competition is supported by SkillIT, which was set up with funding from the Government and IT companies to run events of this type.
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