Five Thessaloniki university students were among the winners of an international competition on electronic commerce last week, beating rivals from top institutions around the world such as Harvard University. Undergraduate and postgraduate students from the schools of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki participated in the University of Michigan’s Trading Agent Competition (TAC) with two «agents» teams, named «MerTACor.» They were P. Toulis and D. Kehagias, who finished first in the TAC Classic category, and G. Kontogounis, C. Hatzidimitriou and A. Symeonidis, who ended up third in the TAC SCM category. «The strategies which our teams developed was what made the difference from the other programs,» Professor Pericles Mitkas, who supervised the Greek students, told Kathimerini. The aim of the TAC competition is to promote research in e-commerce. For almost a year, competing university teams sent their customer and supply management programs to a server in Sweden and in the sixth annual competition, held in a conference in Edinburgh earlier this month, the Thessaloniki teams were found to be among the best in the two categories. TAC Classic has software agents representing travel agents managing holidays for virtual customers. TAC Supply Chain Management (SCM) is concerned with planning and coordinating the activities of personal computer-producing companies across the supply chain. Greece and its companies are far behind the US, the UK and other countries in e-commerce. «The way companies operate, it is not so automatic for them to proceed to autonomous agent applications that would choose and order supplies for them. However, it is does happen to a small extent and the future belongs to the development of these systems,» Mitkas observed.