Sunday, October 12, 2008

ACM ICPC South African 2008

Yesterday UCT hosted 22 teams from UCT, Stellenbosch and UWC for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. This year we had three new helpers from this years World Finals team that can no longer compete. We did a lot of preparation on our side for the event, but as we had the SACO just two weeks ago we didn't contribute any problems.

The contestants started arriving from 07:30 for a large breakfast we prepared for them. They thoroughly enjoyed all the food and chowed it far quicker than we could've imagined! Thanks to Chris Parker and Bertus Labuschagne for preparing the breakfast and snacks during the contest.

While the contestants ate and I handled registrations, Ian Tunbridge was in charge of preparing the lab with the team flags and balloons. For the first time we decided to blow up all the balloons in advance. Given the number of problems solved last year this seemed like a good idea, but alas as you'll find out soon enough it was not.

At 08:30 we started moving the contestants down to the lab, let them login and waited for the practice contest to start. After the practice contest the Nigerian server went offline due to power cuts, which pushed the start 45 minutes late. The start wasn't as pretty as we had hoped for, but things finally got underway at around 09:45. It took some time for the first problem to be solved, so I had plenty time to catch a before shot:

We put together a large team of UCT students no longer eligible to compete. We had Timothy, Migael, Tamara, Harry, James, Robert, myself and for a brief period Ian. Our first goal was to check the problems and send in any clarification requests early, our second goal was to beat Bruce who was doing them solo. Unfortunately we failed at our second goal, but then again Bruce cheated. :P We got A, B and D within little over an hour. We then got stuck for quite some time trying to match what was actually expected in F but got it eventually. Harry was working on C, but very quickly hit a dead-end as he was getting wrong answer. We asked numerous clarification requests and submitted countless times before finally getting it correct. We tried too hard on E, realising too late that a brute force solution would work in time (Bruce beat us to it and solved all six!).

This was our team near the beginning, minus me who took the photo:

More than an hour into the competition, ʇlnɐɟƃ3s got the first problem at the UCT site:

Things never really took off for the full five hours. The number of problems solved was very low with only 14 of about 70 teams solving anything at all, only two of them solving more than two problems. Going into the last hour Tuks3 were leading on time and the scoreboard stopped updating. This is when the local teams started pulling away, with team ʇlnɐɟƃ3s solving a third, followed shortly by Code Red from Stellenbosch also solving a third. At this point both teams were extremely close on time, but UCT's ʇlnɐɟƃ3s was just ahead.

It was in the last 15 minutes that ʇlnɐɟƃ3s closed the door on everyone else by solving their fourth and final problem. No-one was able to pass them in the final minutes. The end results were:

  1. ʇlnɐɟƃ3s of UCT (Keegan Carruthers-Smith, Max Rabkin, Saadiq Moolla)
  2. Code Red of Stellenbosch (Ralf Kistner, Dirk-B Coetzee, Petrus Theron)
  3. Tuks3 of Pretoria
  4. Team LOL of UCT (Julian Kenwood, Richard Baxter, Mike Talbot)
  5. OMG Raptors of UKZN
With only 15 problems solved at the UCT site (23 overall) we had 117 inflated balloons left over. What to do with 117 balloons? Well we let the contestants take them home, and this was the result :)

After the contest we went to Primi Piatti in Cavendish for lunch. Unfortunately before we could go we needed to clean up the mess the contestants left behind. Yes messy bunch...Once the lab was all cleared up we headed off and were just about the last to arrive.

After lunch, which was staggered by table for some reason (the kitchen couldn't handle the numbers or something) we had a little awards ceremony.

3rd at UCT site and 4th overall: Team LOL (Richard, Mike, Julian)

2nd overall: Code Red (Dirk-B, Petrus, Ralf)

1st overall: ʇlnɐɟƃ3s (Saadiq, Keegan, Max)

Contest helpers: Marco, Harry, Timothy, Tamara, Migael
Missing: Chris, Bertus, Ian

Problems, detailed standings, statistics and more are available here.

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