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To Phuket and back : IITR at ACM-ICPC

May 30, 2016

Renju Kokkatt, Haresh Khanna, Ketan Gupta, Sahil Grover

The 40th ACM-ICPC World Finals were held in Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand from May 15th-20th this year. The team ‘11coders’ comprising of Anubhav Bindlish, Kshitij Bathla and Aman Kedia represented IIT Roorkee and secured a world rank- 72. The team had earlier proved their mettle by securing 2nd rank in Chennai regionals among all the participant teams from India.

“Qualifying for the World Finals was really a dream come true for me. This was our last attempt at ICPC, and I am happy that we gave in everything we had while preparing for it.” says Anubhav Bindlish, one of the team members.

About the experience at World Finals, “ We had definitely hoped to perform better. At the Finals, we had a good start, and at around the 3-hour mark we had solved 4 problems. It was then that things started going downhill for us. Poor problem selection and some bad luck prevented us from solving any other problem in the last 2 hours of the contest. But it’s fine - I guess one can never be very sure about these contests. A lot depends on the day. Participating in the WFs was a wonderful experience for the three of us, and we look forward to such exciting opportunities in the future.”

When asked about preparation for the competition, he adds “ It was almost as if we were giving a team contest every other day. Practice and perseverance are key to achieving anything in life, and competitive programming is no different. If you’re planning to participate in ICPC anytime in the future, my advice for you would be simple: remember this is a team contest. No matter how good you are individually; if your team is not balanced, it becomes really difficult to win in the Regionals. When forming your team, try to find members with slightly different areas of expertise. Have good interaction with them and try to give as many team contests as you can”

What is ACM-ICPC?

The Association for Computing Machinery - International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC or just ICPC) is the holy grail of competitive programmers. It is a multi-tier, team-based, programming competition - the oldest, largest and the most prestigious of its kind. It operates according to the rules and regulations formulated by the ACM and is sponsored by IBM. The contest participants come from over 2,000 universities that are spread across 80 countries and six continents.

The ICPC regionals are organized by local universities of different regions across the globe. The winners of these regional rounds get to represent the country at the ACM ICPC World Finals. Typically, each regional contest consists of a preliminary online round followed by an onsite contest. The regionals generally take place from October to December. The Asia regionals in India are held at 3 sites, namely, Amritapuri, Kolkata and Chennai. The ICPC is a team competition. Current rules stipulate that each team consist of three students. Participants must be university students, who have had less than five years of university education before the contest. Each team must be headed by a coach, who must be a university faculty or staff member.

The contest can have several problems (8 to 10 in general), of varying difficulty levels and mostly being algorithmic in nature. They must submit solutions as programs in C, C++, or Java. Programs are then run on test data. If a program fails to give a correct answer, the team is notified and can submit another program.

The best of the best selected from the regionals battle it out in the World Finals to determine the champions amongst them. Only one team from a given institution may advance to the World Finals. Contestants and registered student team members are provided free one-year memberships in ACM. Each finalist team is provided with hotel accommodations for the coach and three contestants according to dates published on ICPC Invitations. The teams and coaches are treated to a full schedule of activities including a full course of complimentary food functions.

In terms of prize money, the highest scoring team takes home $16,500 along with the World Champion Cup and plaques. Teams finishing in the top four positions are awarded Gold Medals and Each of the three Gold Medal teams (other than the World Champions) is awarded $7,500. Those teams finishing fifth through eighth place are awarded Silver Medals and a prize money of $4,500. The teams finishing ninth through twelfth place receive Bronze Medals and a cash prize of $2,250. Additional Bronze Medals might be awarded. The other teams in the top twelve, the North American Champions, the Latin American Champions, the European Champions, the South Pacific Champions, the Asian Champions, and the Africa & Middle East Champions also receive plaques.

WatchOut! congratulates the team on their astonishing performance at the world finals and wishes them all the best in their future endeavours.