Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

2006 ACM Programming Contest Complete

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the all-wrappered-up dept.

180

prostoalex writes "World finals for 2006 ACM programming contest took place in San Antonio, TX this year, and the results are in. Russia's Saratov State University solved 5 contest problems in record time, followed closely by Altai State Technical University (Russia) with 5 problems solved as well. University of Twente (Netherlands), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China), Warsaw University (Poland), St. Petersburg State University (Russia), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), Moscow State University (Russia), University of Waterloo (Canada) and Jagiellonian University - Krakow (Poland) all completed 4 problems."

cancel ×

180 comments

GO USA!!!!!!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117420)

Woohoooooooo! Wait a minute...

Re:GO USA!!!!!!! (1)

olego (899338) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117460)

How exactly is that off-topic? Has the moderator even read the article?

Re:GO USA!!!!!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117569)

Yeah, wow, you found one thing that the US doesn't completely dominate in. Meanwhile we have the largest and richest economy, the mightiest military force in the history of the world, and the cultural and social influence of everybody around the world.

I wonder if these kids who won will now be looking to attend the best higher educational system in the world, or looking for a well-paying job in the best job market in the world. Wait a minute, that's the good old U S of A.

Re:GO USA!!!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117641)

Dude, you're bragging that you are the richest people, while others do a better job, and then you lure the best away from their home economies. This could give you a hint why you have to have the mightiest military force in the world...

Best higher educational system... (1)

RoadDoggFL (876257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117856)

Wasn't this a competition of higher education? We didn't do all too hot.

Re:GO USA!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118145)

I love how nationalistic dick-waving gets modded +1 insightful. Sigh.

Re:GO USA!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118207)

wow, you arrogant prick.

Re:GO USA!!!!!!! (0, Troll)

Flunitrazepam (664690) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117628)

America.... FUCK YEA!

My Birthday (1)

jban4US (927747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118130)

I got mod points for my birthday :) thanks slashdot.

Ugh not again... (1, Troll)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117427)

I already said why the ACM programming contest is crap [slashdot.org] , I won't say it again.

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

Mr. Vandemar (797798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117537)

And yet, you just did...

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117565)

And yet, you just did...
No, I did not. I just LINKED to the info :)

Re:Ugh not again... (2, Interesting)

ageforce_ (719072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117575)

You should have a look at the ICFP contest then: http://icfpcontest.org/ [icfpcontest.org] .
No prefabricated problems.
More time to do the job.
Any programming language.
...

Re:Ugh not again... (5, Insightful)

Tammuz (320333) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117624)

It's generally unfair to judge ACM teams by the polish of their answers, since the only criteria is to solve the problem in minimum time. Similarly, problems are chosen with the time-constraint in mind, not out of any attempt to further science. If you want that, try the MCM [comap.com] .

What's impressive about the winning solutions is that they went from having nothing to implementing a working program from scratch, under stress in only a few minutes. While that is arguably not applicable to being a programmer in real-life, just as being an Olympic sprinter doesn't prepare you for any particular job, it is certainly a commendable intellectual achievement.

Re:Ugh not again... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118073)

What you're missing is how hard the problems are, hard as in "math" not as in "complicated, annoying specs". Time is only used as a tiebreaker, how many problems you solve is what matters most. In fact most teams spend much longer wasting terminal time on flawed algorithms than they do typing up problems they have solved - in other words, if you know how to do a problem, there is plenty of time to implement it. (Teams that know how to solve lots of problems might run into time issues, but this rarely affects more than 1 problem, so these teams are going to be at the top anyway). If it's all about speed, how can you explain the 30+ teams that only got 1 problem, despite being composed three of the top individuals from one of the best schools in some geographical region as determined by a preliminary round of this same type of contest, when most winning teams got the same problem in 1 attempt approximately 25 minutes after the contest started? What you're arguing is like saying that "the International Mathematics Olympiad only tests peoples' equation-writing speed" - maybe a few of the top few contestants will have to fill an entire notebook in 6 hours, but it's actually figuring out how to do the problems that is the real challenge.

CSIDC: IEEE Design Competition (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118405)

Some may be interested in the IEEE design competition: http://www.computer.org/csidc [computer.org] , which typically involves designing a hardware/software system constrained within a pre-determined theme. Judging entries includes considering the creativity in addressing the theme, how well the design/development process was planned and executed, does the system work correctly, etc. Submissions are initially judged as paper designs. Those submissions that make the cut have working models judged.

I believe both contests have their merits.

Re:Ugh not again... (4, Insightful)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117645)

It's no *programming* contest at all. It's much more like an algorithm-solving+text formatting race. They don't test your REAL programming skills - your ability to create your own programming libraries, the organization of your source code, the maintainability, etc.
Oh please! That's like saying the Olympics aren't a real contest because they only test the prowess of athletes, not their ability to tidy up the locker room after use, their politeness towards other clients at the gym or how nice their outfits look on TV.

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117743)

That was a funny one. Anyway, I can say this: Most of the people in here who are programmers have stumbled upon spaghetti code. Well, I have. The guy who wrote that was seen as a genius because he managed to build a full database catalog (where you edit all the records in a DB table) in only 15 minutes.

Wow, that's cool, isn't it?

Well, those 15 minutes turned into several hours of maintenance. (He used copy/paste a lot, now try to adjust 20 similar spaghetti php+html+sql pages - no, no templates - when you DON'T have a regexp search / replace editor handy). So, the fastest isn't necessarily the best. And some times it turns out to be the worst.

And conversely... (4, Insightful)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117839)

...I've spent too much time in companies where people write nice, neat, tidy, well documented and easy to maintain code, but nobody actually knows how to do anything other than plumb one API into another. Every so often I'd come across a tool that someone had written that actually did something and I'd be bemused. How the hell did this lot write that? And I'd dig down through the source code and eventually find that under the mountain of wrappers and delegators and empty architecture there was actually a nugget, like V'ger [wikipedia.org] , that did real work. And someone would explain to me "that's the code that Joe wrote years ago, he left and now we daren't touch that stuff, we just maintain the wrappers".

The truth is that you need both kind of people in software companies. And the other truth is that the people who write the nuggets do interesting work that is worthy of displaying publicly in a contest. And the rest do work that isn't.

Having said that, plumbing competitions [pmmag.com] aren't completely unheard of.

Re:Ugh not again... (2, Interesting)

wcbarksdale (621327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118379)

Speed is probably the most visible aspect of ACM programming contests, but really correctness is the most important criterion. The scoring system gives you 0 points for something that passes 95% of the tests, and the feedback is not much more informative than yes/no.

My own experience is three years of regional contests and two at Worlds. The usual allowed languages are C++ and Java.

In the first year I wrote essentially in the C subset, although I did sometimes make declarations in the middle of a block. If I needed to keep a couple hundred ints around, I would have int x[1000]; usually at global scope, and I often had a 500 line main function with a few occasional gotos.

During the second year I started modularizing into shorter functions and also making some use of STL containers like vector and map. My code was not particularly object-oriented though.

In the third year I switched to Java even though hello world and input/output formatting are substantially more verbose than in C. (We usually had 1.3 or 1.4, so no printf.) The time efficiency of an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException compared to what C++ would usually give you was worth it.

Over the years, as I tried to increase my own productivity, my code became more organized and readable. It wasn't a process consciously directed towards good software engineering.

(My code was rarely very OO, however. For a small, one-person project that doesn't talk to other systems I doubt it's much of a performance gain.)

Re:Ugh not again... (3, Insightful)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117825)

That's like saying the Olympics aren't a real contest because they only test the prowess of athletes, not their ability to tidy up the locker room after use, their politeness towards other clients at the gym or how nice their outfits look on TV.

No, that's like saying the Olympics isn't a real contest of athletics because you're only testing how fast they can run 100 meters. The results don't show who was fastest at 10 meters, 50 meters, or who would be fastest at 150 or 1,000 meters. Recognizing this shortcoming, the Decathlon adds up the scores from multiple events to find the best all-around track and field athlete.

A programming contest is the equivalent of a single track and field event. There's nothing wrong with that, but we have to be careful what conclusions we draw from its results.

Re:Ugh not again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118906)

I've seen people who participated in the contest, and harped that they got a cd for participating. The crowing about programming prowess went on and on. It's like saying "I remembered to flush the toilet and wash today!" You have remembered correctly, but I wouldn't give you anything for being able to think.

Re:Ugh not again... (1, Insightful)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117880)

Not sure that is the right analogy.. it'd be more like if the olympics had one event: the 100 meter dash. That is exactly what this competition is, a single event race, it's only measure is speed of completion. Of course it is hard to evaluate less tangibles like maintainabilty and ease of reuse.

My proposal: make programming competitions more like figure skating, where you get points on different aspects from a variety of judges. Might make a interesting tv show even (probably not in all honesty).

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

leeharris100 (890639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117721)

No way, they just a preset input and output. They don't just use a compare, they judge the output after using a preset input.

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117771)

It's no *programming* contest at all. It's much more like an algorithm-solving+text formatting race. They don't test your REAL programming skills - your ability to create your own programming libraries, the organization of your source code, the maintainability, etc.

You're right. Real programmers rarely bother with formatting...

(No, I'm not kidding...I make my money testing their stuff -- don't knock test programming, it's some of the purest computer hacking there is -- and I make about half of it because their mistakes are due to pure sloppiness.)

Re:Ugh not again... (3, Insightful)

schnitzi (243781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117822)

Your rant sounds like an angry ex post facto rationalization for losing.

I've spent many years involved in ACM programming contests, as a competitor, coach, and judge. And let me tell you, every team that considers it a hacking contest, and treats it like a hacking contest, LOSES. The teams that write well organized code, with simple straightforward solutions, win the day every time.

I'm not surprised you did poorly.

BTW, of course they compare output files. Would you really expect the judges to give an aesthetic judgment of each program in a five hour contest? "9.8 from the Russian judge..."

Re:Ugh not again... (2)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118249)

It is a hacking contest to quite some extent. Unlike most programming contests I've taken part in, coding skills have far more importance than the ability to come with the best algorithm in O(n) sense.

An example: in my time (1998), we didn't whack our teammate upside the head for doing one of the tasks the real way instead of just going for the naive algorithm. The naive one was O(n^3), the optimal one -- O(n), but max n was... 100. In our national competitions and on most exams done by folks from our faculty, tasks and tests are carefully designed to give few if any points to optimized but asymptotically slow code; on the ACM contest we simply didn't realize the bias is different. Just a knee-jerk reaction; we assumed that if n is so small, the time limits will be in the range of milliseconds.

And either doing that task the naive way or shaving like 30 seconds from the time wasted by that teammate would get us 1st place instead of 9th. Blargh :p

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

jdub_dub (874345) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118500)

Not all problems can be generalised to providing a reasonable solution without regards for the time constraints.

The last ACM competition I went to (2004), there was a question where you had to implement a solution while keeping in mind the time requirements. Nobody in the country successfully implemented it; in the end, a naive implementation would have taken centuries to run, and a good implementation (after a lot of thought) would have come very close to the time limit imposed on the result submissions.

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

Bob Hearn (61879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118530)

I guess that depends on what you mean by hacking. In my experience, often it's raw coding speed that carries the day, and having lots of tricks at your disposal helps enormously. But that will only get you so far without an ability to suss out the clever, concise solutions quickly. In any case, I agree with your "sour grapes" assessment of the parent.

- Bob Hearn, member, Rice 1986 (3rd place) & 1987 ACM programming teams

Re:Ugh not again... (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118122)

I've participatedin the ACM local competitions for two years in a row now. If studying computer science has taught me anything, it's that understanding algorithms and design patterns is paramount. We should, in fact, have them memorized, and the competition reflects that.

We all write programs, so we're all programmers, but I definitely think there is a difference between a "computer scientist" and, say, a computer engineer, a code monkey, a web programmer, etc.

The ACM competition is computer science--no question about it.

Re:Ugh not again... (2)

Ruie (30480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118569)

Umm. the contest is about computer science so algorithm solving ability is exactly what needs to be tested, not how pretty your commenting is.

In retaliation (4, Funny)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117450)

...MIT stole Saratov State University's cannon.

Re:In retaliation (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117490)

> ...MIT stole Saratov State University's cannon.

In California, CalTech had to go to Soviet Russia, only to be stolen by what was once their own cannon?

"...what a canonical meme!"
- Slashdov Smirnov

Re:In retaliation (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117912)

Just had to add to try.

In Capatlist west old cannon moves between university.
In Soviet Russia KGB intercepts hi tech US artillery during transport.

Reminds me of the old joke.

"The USSR and the GDR want to raise the Titanic together,
The US is interested in the gold treasure and the safe full of diamonds,
The USSR is interested in the technology,
And the GDR (East Germany) is interested in the band that played on as everything collapsed around it..."

Not final scores... (5, Interesting)

qbproger (467459) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117476)

As someone who has their school at the competition, and I'm on the programming team (though my team didn't make it this year). Those are the scores as of one hour left in the competition.

They don't update the scores during the last hour to keep suspence for the awards ceremony. So this isn't really news at all, and the post is going to be meaningless as soon as they update the standings. I'm expecting them to be posted soon though as I think the awards ceremony ended recently.

Re:Not final scores... (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117547)

It will be fun to watch the follow up /. post get duped to death anyways.

So much for a programming contest, (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117482)

... this bullshit has absolutely nothing to do with programming. These are more or less general problems that needn't involve computers at all - just get a paper and a pencil. It is imho absolutely not demanding to code a problem that has a simple (read: already proven stem) outside CS.

Auckland University (1)

Gil2796 (585952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117487)

I entered the South Pacific Programming Competition for this year, which University of Auckland won (I think University of New South Wales is the 'traditional' winner). It's interesting to see that the best of the South Pacific universities came 80th in the World Finals.

Re:Auckland University (1)

cos(x) (677938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117853)

It's interesting to see that the best of the South Pacific universities came 80th in the World Finals.


Actually, Adelaide came 37th.

We (the University of Otago) came 27th back in 2004 when I participated. Whatever others say about the contest, I loved it and certainly enjoyed the trip to Prague.

One Question & A Short Rant (4, Interesting)

hyfe (641811) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117522)

1. Anybody managed to find the actual test questions?
It's always interesting to see how advanced these are. Most of the time, I'm really not impressed by the complexity of the assignments, although the optimalization work done by the teams can be pretty 'way-better-than-anything-I-could-ever-do".

2. If you ever see Russian State Universities at the top of anything, be very, very cautious. I studied at MGU (Moscow State University) for a little while, and it was frankly appaling. They were taught extremely specific skillsets, they knew exactly what they would be tested in in advance of tests and didn't study *anything* else. It was like a game of 'getting through Uni without learning *anything*' which outranked anything I've ever seen back home (or heard of in the US). The methology probably lends itself well to predefined, known tests, but it produces practically useless students.

(To be fair, here back home, the ones who really learn something are the ones with a real interest in the subject, and they learn most of it outside class. There were really bright people at MGU too. It was the mindnumbingly staggering uselessness of the average student there which amazed me. It was supposed to be a "Top University".. oh, and you had to bring your own toiletpaper if you wanted to take a dump :)

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117572)

1. Anybody managed to find the actual test questions?

Among the puzzlers, greatly simplified here: Write a program that computes how the gears of a clock can be connected with an hour and a minute hand, based on a provided input shaft speed with a maximum of three gears per shaft. Create a program that can find the maximum numbers of degrees of separation for a network of people. Develop a system to interconnect different nodes of a corporate network in the cheapest possible way.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (3, Informative)

Hyram Graff (962405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117591)

1. Anybody managed to find the actual test questions?

It looks like you will be able to get them in pdf from from the contest website [baylor.edu] . (As of the time of this posting, the link hasn't gone live.)

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

trelony (825975) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117626)

I studied in Saint Petersburg State University and it was tough. Maybe because of our rivalry with MGU we never thought high about it. You just proved us right.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117666)

How russians can win if they have such crappy education system?
Or maybe "they knew exactly what they would be tested in in advance of tests"? :-)

You sound funny: "If you ever see Russian ... at the top of anything, be very, very cautious".
Quote of the day :-)

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (4, Interesting)

arrrrg (902404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117767)

It's always interesting to see how advanced these are. Most of the time, I'm really not impressed by the complexity of the assignments, although the optimalization work done by the teams can be pretty 'way-better-than-anything-I-could-ever-do".

You must be talking about another contest, on crack, or a super-genius (I won't hazard a guess as to which). I was on the Berkeley ACM team this year, and the International-level problems are HARD ... unless by "complexity" you mean the difficulty of writing a guess-and-check "solution" (which will be exponentially too slow). Usually, coming up with an algorithm with good asymptotic time complexity is the focus, and is very difficult. Almost all of them are not ones you can look at and just say "oh, that's max flow", etc, unlike some of the regional contest problems. And, from my experience at least, optimization is not that important at all. If you get the right algorithm, the problems can typically be solved in well under the time limit without doing anything fancy. If you do the naive thing, no amount of constant-factor optimization will allow the thing to finish before the universe ends. Just my $.02 ... don't take my word for it though, look at last year's problems and see what you think: http://cii-judge.baylor.edu/ [baylor.edu]

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (5, Informative)

jbf (30261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117889)

As a member of the second place team in world finals many moons ago, I have to disagree. I think the problems are actually quite simple algorithmically, and that the hard part is quickly writing working code for semicomplicated problems (including input parsing) with only one computer shared three ways.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

kaszeta (322161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118398)

As a two-time contestant at finals myself, I'll split the difference between the two of you. Both times I went the problem set contained a fairly even mix:

1. Problems with obvious good solution algorithms that were easy to code (and everyone got these)

2. Problems that took careful inspect to find a non-exponential brute-force algorithm that were easy to code once you figured this out. (Most teams got these towards the end of the contest)

3. Problems with fairly obvious solutions that were challenging to code.

4. Problems that appeared to be trivial, except for exceptional input data which the judging team always used as their case (I recall a few where the sample data was designed to see if you were looking for divide by zero)

If I was at the office, I could even pull down the old problem sets and our team's solutions.

All in all, I rather liked it, since it taught you to think out things before coding them (but quickly), and think of efficient solutions over brute force approaches.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

hyfe (641811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118495)

If you get the right algorithm, the problems can typically be solved in well under the time limit without doing anything fancy. If you do the naive thing, no amount of constant-factor optimization will allow the thing to finish before the universe ends.

Well, to be frank; if you're reasonably not-stupid, finding an algorithm that scales well shouldn't be a problem (alot of people seem to be reasonably stupid though.. a lot of people who really ought to know better). Sure, it'll take time, and actually implementing it without messing up will take more time, but esriously; we're not webmonkeys, we know what we're doing

Anyways, when saying constant-factor optimalization won't help, you're overlooking one very important real-world factor. The difference between accessing memory and disk-cache. Even with a small'ish dataset of 100-200MB you can run into serious memory-usage problems with a careless implementation. And caching really, really hurts, especially if you're using Linux (Windows' caching seem to be alot more agressive, kicks in earlier but handles peaks alot gracefuller. Linux tend to just plain become unusable .. I guess it's the difference between a caching system designed and optimized for single-user single-machine and the clean, simple'ish used on Linux).

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

hyfe (641811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118515)

Urg, first reply missed my closing statement to parent.

In the end, I guess I, just like everybody else, am impressed by stuff I'm bad at, while the stuff I actually have talent won't seem as magical. Sure people are better than me, but they're not *that* better.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (0, Flamebait)

SuperJames_74 (548630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117896)

"...although the optimalization work done..."

Optimalization ain't no fuckin wordage, man.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118155)

Don't mod Troll/Flamebait just because you're disagreeing.

Actually, do mod him as Troll. First, he pisses on the contest and then on the education system that produced the winners.

Yet, to him, "optimalization" is a word.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

hyfe (641811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118547)

Agreed, my post really was borderline trolling. Article wasn't about the state of Russian Universities.

Well, the fact that you seem to be thinking my first language is English is a tribute to our Education System :). Optimalization was a direct translation of 'Optimalisering' which is the Norwegian word.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118184)

They were taught extremely specific skillsets, they knew exactly what they would be tested in in advance of tests and didn't study *anything* else. It was like a game of 'getting through Uni without learning *anything*' which outranked anything I've ever seen back home

That description sounds a lot like MIT. I felt bad for the Aero/Astro kids asking us for electrical help. Sure we all got B's on it, but...that was like a couple months ago.

Appaling (3, Interesting)

melted (227442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118382)

Yeah, dude, I know why it was "appaling". Because you couldn't handle studying there, that's why. Compared to education in the US, the situation in Russian higher education is completely the opposite of what you've described. Folks are being taught extremely broadly, perhaps with too little attention paid to practical applications of what is taught at times. And you can't narrow down the scope of your education because you _can't_ choose classes. You fucking WILL learn linear algebra, physics, differential calculus, discrete mathematics, etc., whether you like it or not.

It is expected of students to be able to figure out practical applications on their own. MGU in particular is one of the most hardcore Russian schools that is easily on par with _any_ Western college or university for which here in the US you'd be paying _through the nose_. MGU seems to be specifically designed to produce scientists and researchers, not engineers, though. MIFI, MAI, MSTU and NGU on the other hand focus on generating engineers that get shit done. The reason being, they produce most of Russia's engineers who work on weapons and high tech.

Re:Appaling (1)

hyfe (641811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118591)

Yeah, dude, I know why it was "appaling". Because you couldn't handle studying there, that's why.

Moscow didn't impress me no.

You fucking WILL learn linear algebra, physics, differential calculus, discrete mathematics, etc., whether you like it or not.

I know Linear Algebra, Differential Calculus, Discrete mathematics.. Physics is a weak spot though (relativly, took the courses, got bad grades and deserved them).. I finished my Master Thesis in Computer Science. Seriously, I know my shit. I met some really bright, impressive people there... and *alot* of fucking stupid ones.

Russian schools that is easily on par with _any_ Western college or university for which here in the US you'd be paying

Top students, sure; I think you're right. Average student; hell no! Might have been different back in the days, but nowadays they're basically lazy, incompetent ****s.

Oh, and in Norway we have free education :)

Re:Appaling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118901)

Please excuse the rest of the world. Whenever they see someone writing text in English that consists of something that they disagree with, or even believe to be stupid, they immediately suspect that the person in question is from the U.S. Well, unless you say wanker or throw in some extraneous u characters. Then they will suspect that the person in question is from the U.S. but is in fact pretending not to be.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (2, Interesting)

feijai (898706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118517)

If you ever see Russian State Universities at the top of anything, be very, very cautious. I studied at MGU (Moscow State University) for a little while, and it was frankly appaling. They were taught extremely specific skillsets, they knew exactly what they would be tested in in advance of tests and didn't study *anything* else.

This is a highly spot-on comment. The problem ACM is now discovering, I suspect, is that in certain countries students at certain universities will work all year to compete in the programming contest, at the expense of all else. And in other (european) countries, the educational system is set up to strongly emphasize the major over breadth, producing students good at a certain vocational task -- computer algorithms, say -- but with no ability in things American students would find basic. The US educational system has a much heavier emphasis on breadth, under the presumption that education should teach you to be the Everyman, not just the Cog.

It's not at all surprising that the US doesn't perform well in the contest except in its best schools. Comparing the US against Poland only says that Polish students will study nothing but computer science, and settle on this concentration at a fairly early age compared to US students. Comparing the US against China and Moscow realy just says that certain Chinese and Russian universities have entire programs that do nothing but ACM programming contest work in order to get their names on the map.

This is a problem of how we're spreading the fertilizer. Maybe we should revisit what the ACM contest should be measuring: or its validity in the first place. Imagine a contest that requires students to put together code which does models in several different fields -- everything from economics to the arts -- and you don't know what the fields are beforehand. We'll see Moscow dropping off the ACM map real fast.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (3, Funny)

BMazurek (137285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118520)

I studied at MGU (Moscow State University) for a little while\

As a geek that moved to Moscow recently...were you ever able to find a bookstore that sold computer books in English?

Please!?

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (2, Informative)

hyfe (641811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118620)

The large Dom Knigi on Novy Arbat, (right next to the Norwegian Embassy if you have a tourist guide, I might be mistaking the streetname), had the largest selection of English book I could find. Never checked out computer books though.

Re:One Question & A Short Rant (1)

Ruie (30480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118806)

2. If you ever see Russian State Universities at the top of anything, be very, very cautious. I studied at MGU (Moscow State University) for a little while, and it was frankly appaling.

Hi, Hyfe, you might be very, very cautious about making overbroad comments.

Now I could possibly believe that computer science of Moscow State was not that good (in 1993 they were doing assembler on Abat3 (Z80 clone) when 386 were widespread), but, at the very least, the Math and Physics departments are excellent in comparison to what passes for "education" in most places in USA.

The only university in USA that I personally know can compare is University of Chicago. The rest can do the job if you know which courses to take (you'll need to start with 300-400 level instead of Calc 101) but tough luck if you want to follow standard progress - or if you want to have fellow students of your own age.

I need a piece of software in 10 minutes?!?!? (5, Insightful)

shadowen1977 (903138) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117549)

I like this quote from the story.... "When was the last time you heard someone say 'I need a piece of software in 10 minutes?" Ask my boss.... He needs it in 5.

Re:I need a piece of software in 10 minutes?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118540)

No wonder -- his employees are wasting time on slashdot all the time. ;)

Re:I need a piece of software in 10 minutes?!?!? (1)

mibus (26291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118891)

Ask my boss.... He needs it in 5.

If I'm asked to do something, I often ask when it's needed - "today" or "yesterday". :)

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117585)

... the contest wins you!

obligatory (0, Redundant)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117640)

In Soviet Russia, problems solve you (in record time too!!!!)

In soviet russia... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15117653)

contest problem solves you!

bias article (0, Redundant)

Flunitrazepam (664690) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117656)

From TFA:

For many, it's like any sporting event -- just with lines of computer code instead of balls

That seems really unprofessional and childish, even for a Yahoo story.

Re:bias article (3, Funny)

middlemen (765373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118272)

For many, it's like any sporting event -- just with lines of computer code instead of balls

Was this sporting event in prison!? Lines of balls ... vivid!

sorry, had to do it (0, Redundant)

Sathias (884801) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117675)

At Russia's Saratov State University, contest problems solve YOU!!

Heh (1)

highwaytohell (621667) | more than 7 years ago | (#15117688)

Start queueing up the "In Soviet Russia" one liners...

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117752)

It's not a queue its a stack.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117835)

In that case, get ready for a stack overflow.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117990)

More like a heap...

Re:Heh (1)

Null Perception (914562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117760)

In Soviet Russia, one liners queue you.

And the streets in Russia exploded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117768)

with the voices of a million cheers:

In Soviet Russia, Saratov State U!!!

What is impressed me (1)

metternich (888601) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117715)

Is that the winning Russian univeristies are in very provincial places. Saratov is in the middle of nowhere East of the Volga River and Altai is actually in Kazakhstan.

well, (2, Funny)

santaliqueur (893476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117716)

on redundant slashdot, soviet russia jokes post YOU!

Online ACM problems (4, Informative)

BinaryOpty (736955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117720)

For those who want to know more about this contest in the form of actually attempting ACM questions, then I suggest heading over to their problemset archive [online-judge.uva.es] which not only has ACM stuff from the last 5 years but a large number of non-ACM programming problems in the same vein. You can sign up with them and have your solutions to their problems checked for correctness.

Since the website's a design massacre, to get to the ACM problems you need to click on the link marked THE CII ICPC LIVE ARCHIVE !!! [acmicpc-li...ive.uva.es] in the news bar, or just click on that one right there.

Jeeeeesus Christ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117806)

Fuckin' GEEKS. Well someone had to say it.

Waterloo! (5, Funny)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117901)

Here is a picture of our library taken during this exam period

Library [imageshack.us]
 

I remember it well... (2, Interesting)

crunchly (266150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117974)

I remember my only entrance into the ACM programming contest. It was the first round of competition. We felt pretty good going in (calling ourselves team "Kwik Fill" after the gas station we stopped at along the way). We were the cream of the crop of the state school we attended.

The first bump in the road was the compiler on the VAX. "Couldn't it have been a Sparc, or at least a Mac?", I thought, as we spent the first hour of the competition trying to understand how to get the compiler to work. You might ask why we spent the first hour on the system and not working out algorithms to address the problems. To that, I answer: Have you seen those problems?

By now, the Dew buzz was wearing off. We almost got two programs working and took several pictures of us pretending to toss the VT220 terminal out the window before time expired.

All in all, it was a good performance. IIRC, we tied for 4th, as one team scored 4 points, two scored 3 points, one scored 2 and we were tied with the other eight teams with 1/2 point.

After that, I started focusing on networks. Ah, the good old days.

Nitpick (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118518)

All in all, it was a good performance. IIRC, we tied for 4th, as one team scored 4 points, two scored 3 points, one scored 2 and we were tied with the other eight teams with 1/2 point.

Wouldn't you have been tied for fifth?

That's not a real progamming compo (1)

Lerc (71477) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118074)

This is how it's done.

http://www.ludumdare.com/ [ludumdare.com]

Creativity, cunning, coding and caffine.
 

Obligatory! (0)

1tsm3 (754925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118109)

In Soviet Russia, the ACM wins you... oh wait!!

In the US, the ACM wins you!

(* US lost the ACM, so ACM won the US... get it? *)

Re:Obligatory! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118349)

It wasn't even funny /before/ you explained it.

Re:Obligatory! (1)

srite (940633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118356)

you do not explain these types of comments. People will mod it as funny irrespective of the meaning...

I Remember Being in the Contest (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118121)

It was a great time. The team I was on placed fourth at the competition (we would say "We're the fourth best team in the free world.") The Russians weren't participating then, though a team from Switzerland did. Along with a team from Israel if I remember right. When I was the alternate the team placed second - it's kinda depressing to know that the team did better without me :-(

Actual results (5, Informative)

insaneparadox (600390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118193)

As noted previously, the mentioned scores were from an hour before the contest's end. My sources give the actual, final medal results as the following:

1. Saratov State University (Russia) - 6 problems
2. Jagiellonian University - Krakow (Poland) - 6 problems
3. Altai State Technical University (Russia) - 5 problems
4. University of Twente (Netherlands) - 5 problems
5. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) - 5 problems
6. St. Petersburg State University (Russia) - 5 problems
7. Warsaw University (Poland) - 5 problems
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) - 5 problems
9. Moscow State University (Russia) - 5 problems
10. Ufa State Technical University (Russia) - 5 problems
11. University of Alberta (Canada) - 4 problems
12. University of Waterloo (Canada) - 4 problems

Four teams each received gold, silver, and bronze (in the above order). For the same number of problems, the order is based on penalty minutes.

What happened to the Indians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118197)

I thought they were supposed to be the new thing. What happened?

what were the tasks? (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118289)

I haven't found info on what they had to program - I'd like to suggest to the rwth-aachen to participate next time, but I'd like to see what kinds of problems are to be solved (at least to know to which faculty I should suggest that... besides I'd be interested in that myself...)

Re:what were the tasks? (1)

hendersj (720767) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118843)

I've not seen the tasks for this years' contest yet, but the way this contest used to be run (10+ years ago), the tasks were something that looked fairly trivial in a lot of cases, but in the end the exception processing is what usually caused a problem for most teams.

I competed in the Southeast Regional competition in the US back in about 1991 or 1992 - our team tied with a bunch of others for last place with no problems solved. At the time, it was 10 problems, 6 or 8 hours, choice of C or Pascal as a language, and one computer.

I had the good fortune to be able to practice with the team from the University of Central Florida, who had been ranked in the top 5 back at that time - I remember one of the problems we were given was to make change with the smallest number of coins possible. Looks easy at first glance, but the UCF team had problems with that particular practice problem.

Another problem was to build Pascal's Triangle for any input through n=11.

The UCF team solved that one using just a series of Pascal "write" lines interspersed with tests for the input value of 'n'. The coach applauded their ingenuity, and then tore them apart for avoiding the algorithmic issue. Their coach (Dave, I remember his name was) was quite outstanding as a programmer himself - worked on some AI-related stuff for intelligent ATC training simulations (also a project I worked on a different part of at the time); he had someone who actually built the problem sets from past contests and didn't tell him what the problems would be, just so he could use them to practice his own skills. He knocked out 10/10 in the time the top-rated UCF team turned out about 3 problems at that particular practice.

The programs (at least when I was involved in the contest) required a text file input that the judges would test the programs against, and output had to meet a very specific format that was detailed in the problem. If you were off a space, the answer wouldn't count. If your program didn't handle bad data (which was always in the input file), you wouldn't pass. The program was sent back with either a "pass" or a "fail" and that was it - you had to figure out what was wrong without seeing the input file or the output generated. You were allowed to ask written yes/no questions, but it often took so long to get an answer that it impacted your ability to complete a task.

As others mentioned, this isn't so much a programming contest as it is an algorithmic competition - a lot of the "programming" was done by developing an algorithm on paper and then translating that to code - since only one person could use the team's computer at a time (collaboration was allowed by team members, and some teams operated that way). One of the tricks to being successful was being able to correctly identify which problems were the easiest and which were the most difficult and get someone started right away with banging out code (the UCF team even referred to one coder as the "banger", as the person who would take the problem the team determined was the simplest and start banging code out while other team members worked on the algorithms for other problems).

UPDATE: real results are here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118336)

Here [google.ca] are the top twelve finishers. These are the real final results, not the ``suspense'' results from one hour before the contest finished.

Saratov State
Jageillonian U.
Altai State
Twente
Jiao Tong
St. Petersburg State
Warsaw
MIT
Moscow State
Ufa State
Alberta
Waterloo

ACSL (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118340)

When I was in high school I participated in the ACSL [acsl.org] (American Computer Science League) contest among high schools which still is running. It seems similar, they had a written test on computer science related things and a series of practical team programming problems. It was a blast when our team beat the champion (we were Montclair Kimberly, I think it was the 82-83 contest). Seems like the ACM contest has more interesting and difficult problems, looks like knowledge of genetic algorithms and simulated annealing might even be useful! Looking forward to seeing the results (the programs) if they are published.

Experience with incompetent judges... (3, Interesting)

LoveMe2Times (416048) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118512)

I am still angry to this day. The "judges" had the wrong answer to one of the problems. Of course, it was the problem that I took for my group. I had it right the first time, within a few minutes. Submit, wrong, time penalty. Hmmm... futz with it a little, submit, wrong, penalty, repeat. In the end, my team came in like third or fourth, due to these penalties. Turns out, the teams that came in ahead of us hadn't even submitted any answers for that problem. Of course, nobody in the competition got it right, and only one other team submitted an answer, I think. What *really* pissed me off, though, is that our fucking school administrators refused to take up the fight on our behalf to have the results changed. If we had hadn't had the penalties, I think we would have been 2nd, and if we'd been credited for the correct answer, we would have come in first. Either way, we would've gone to the next round or whatever. I don't know if this was standard everywhere or not, but they passed out the "official" answers when it was over, so we discovered how we'd been cheated on the way home, and it was trivial to verify that their answer was wrong.

However, I must agree with some of the other posters: it's not so much a programming competition. It's more of an algorithms and standard library memorization competition. I seem to recall that knowing *all* the ins and outs of the printf family of functions was pretty important. Looking at the site now, it looks like they provide docs for the standard libraries, I don't think this was the case where I went. Anyway, it's important that you know that Java has a regular expression parser as part of the std lib (and therefore usable in the contest) while C++ doesn't. In real life, if you need a regular expression parser, you go get one. Additionally, looking at last years problems, for example, one of them is a straightforward application of a shortest-path algorithm. Do I remember the inner workings of the common graph algorithms? No, I don't use them very often. But I have my reference book handy if I need it. 99% of the time, I'll just use boost::graph. That problem could be solved quite trivially in 20 minutes with boost::graph. If you want to test my knowledge of graph algorithms, that's fine. My algorithms textbook has many exercises which do just that. Just don't call it a programming test. Everything in my algo class was pen and paper. In fact, if you're a real progammer, and you didn't use boost::graph (or something similar) to solve that problem, you deserve to be fired. Writing your own from scratch is a horrible waste of time and a maintenance nightmare. In fact, the boost libraries probably trivialize a number of ACM problems, what with graph libraries, matrix libraries, parsing frameworks, regular expressions, state machines, and so forth. A programming contest would force you to use these well, not re-write them.

Re:Experience with incompetent judges... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118945)

Yes, incompetent judges do exist and I have met a lot of them when I was a contestant. But now that I have been a judge for many years, I have found out that most of the time when the contestants think that the judges are wrong, it is actually the contestants that are wrong. The regions I have been associated with always post the judging data and judges' solutions after the contest, and I actually have people coming back to me and tell me that they see their mistakes. I am not saying that the judges are always right, but I think posting everything afterwards and making this process as open as possible would solve a lot of problem. Not everyone agrees with me, unfortunately.

In terms of algorithms, I do not believe any of the top teams would rewrite any of the common algorithms. They will bring them in on paper and just type it in. I did that when I was a contestant.

You forgot Poland! (1)

MSBob (307239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118582)

I'm glad that Polish universities had a good showing. I grew up there and was educated there and always thought that CS education in Poland was top notch quality. Much better than in the UK for example, where I also studied for a while.

MIT going down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118757)

Why even bother going to MIT.
Seems like this is just another well, better than average university. People like flies get fooled into thinking that they get good education here, where in reality there are places more advanced and sophisticated.
And one more thing. Thank you guys from India and other countries for coming to MIT to get your Master and PhD. Otherwise it would become community college in no time.

What a lousy way to run a programming contest (0, Troll)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118766)

If they want a real comparison of programming talent they shouldn't make up "toy" problems for programmers -- they should come up with a series of prizes similar to, but less challenging than, The Clay Mathematics Institute Millenium Prizes [claymath.org] , or, better yet just pile as much money as possible on the C-Prize [geocities.com] and let the programmers go crazy with creativity.

Other programming challenges -- with useful results are sitting around all over the place that just need some more money to get the competition kickstarted.

Mod Parent Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118921)

Baldrson (a.k.a. Jim Bowery) is a white supremacist, and the C-Prize is likely a scam to fund his right-wing lobbying efforts.



Rusty Foster

Founder, Kuro5hin.org

Just my interpretation but.... (1)

threedognit3 (854836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118785)

It seems that countries who's emotional eqivlency is null usually wins these types of contests. All of the programming tests I take with employers point in this direction. This seem that anyone who can express emotions aren't good programmers. One must seperate themselves to an objective state in which there is no feelings...only logic. It's the NCIS programs on CBS...no emotion, just logic. Kind'a like my relationship with my girlfriend...only she doesn't understand it.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...