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The ACM ICPC programming contest

The ACM ICPC programming contest

On November 10 the Computer Science department organized and hosted the North East North America (NENA) Regional Final of the oldest world-wide programming contest in the world: the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest). In 2017, 49,935 students from 3,098 universities in 111 countries participated in this challenging algorithmic contest. The top teams from each region advance to the World Finals, which will be held this academic year in Porto, Portugal, in April.

The Northeast North America region, of which I am the contest director, consists of colleges and universities throughout Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York State excluding New York City. The top 16 teams from the preliminary rounds of the competition are invited to participate in the Regional Final, held at RIT each year in November. The top team advances to the World Finals, plus strong-performing regions (such as ours) at last year's World Finals are awarded additional advancing slots.

Our department has organized the contest for almost two decades. We take care of organizational issues (of which there are plenty) but also design new challenging algorithmic problem sets and create the corresponding implementations and data sets. Our Problem Design team consists of Zack Butler (the Chief Judge for the region), Aaron Deever, Daniel Stefankovic (of University of Rochester), and myself. Several days prior to the contest and on the day of the contest we get help from many other faculty and staff in the department. Needless to say, organizing the contest involves an extraordinary amount of work, which is all done via volunteering. As a reward, we get to interact with the best students in the region (and the world) and show them what a great place RIT is.

I am very happy to report that the contest went very well: not very surprisingly, MIT won, followed by Harvard, both of which will represent our region at the World Finals this year. Each team consists of three students, who for five hours work together on a single computer to solve a set of challenging algorithmic problems. RIT was represented by Ayana Adylova, Steven Landau, and Andrew Searns, with coach Alex Ororbia. Ayana, Steven, and Andrew advanced from a preliminary round of the contest held at Hamilton College in October, and at the Regional Final they took an amazing 5th place in this super-tough region!

Ivona Bezakova and Zack Butler