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2007 ACM Contest Winners Announced

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the they-are-the-winner dept.

Programming 110

prostoalex writes "2007 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is over with Warsaw University (Poland) winning it this year and solving all of the problems. The runner-up, Tsinghua University (China), finished with 7 problems solved, while St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics and Optics (Russia) and MIT (USA) are tied up for the third place with 6 problems solved. There were 6000 teams initially in the running, and in the final round of the competition only 88 remained."

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How many polocks joke? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398621)

Can't think of one. I fail!!

I'll be the first to say it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398635)

Programmers from the US aren't as good as programmers from other countries.

Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pirated (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398649)

I don't see Polish or Chinese software being pirated. It's always those lousy Americans'.

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398733)

I don't know what the conditions are like in China, but sometimes good talent gets wasted.

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (1)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398781)

I don't know what the conditions are like in China

Yes, and we'd like to keep it that way.

Thanks
- China

Very bad. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399435)

I don't know what the conditions are like in China, but sometimes good talent gets wasted.
That's what you get with educational streaming, talent that would do well without it. It happens in about any country.

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398771)

Laugh while you can.

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399037)

Yeah, and who writes American software?

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399425)

Indians.

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399467)

...who wouldn't be writing it as well if not for the intervention of a few large multinationals looking for a tax loophole country.

the reason why -- and it is not what you think. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399059)

Reason is simple, there is very little infrastructure for the kind of company creation that US have in china or Poland, both countries are just moving into capitalism after decades of communism. As more and more stuff is outsourced, there are probably already products that are American in name only (Stuff developed oversees, but is maketed exclusively thru an american company.)

One word, Loophole. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399491)

Start taxing foreign assets in this manner, and something that penalizes all attempts to restructure. Corporations are not to be treated as entities with a perpetual carte blanche. The role they are seeking has already been filled.

Stuff developed overseas, but is marketed exclusively through an American company
You mean like what Honda and Toyota do for manufacturing and what is done otherwise just to look the part? Time to update the Buy America law to cover these problems.

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (1)

jackalski (320807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399413)

Consider then would US companies or govt. buy rather software from US company or let say Polish... //
Piotr.
Software QA specialist at US company whose entire R&D, customer support, etc. is located in Poland :)

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399725)

Could that be because Polish and Chinese software is worth paying for?

Re:Don't see Polish or Chinese software being pira (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399865)

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/techinvestor/industry /2007-03-13-google-poland_N.htm [usatoday.com]

Why Google put a research lab in Poland

KRAKOW, POLAND -- When Artur Hibner graduates from college this year, he won't have to worry about getting well-paid work in his field right here in Krakow, Poland's thriving former royal seat.

For years, Western technology firms have come to Eastern Europe to lure away talented computer-science graduates like Mr. Hibner, who attends AGH University of Science and Technology. But now, the region's universities are producing so many top programmers that many firms are changing tack - and setting up shop at the source.

IBM, Motorola, and Google have all opened research labs here in Krakow in recent years, while Deutsche Telecom, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and other giants have come to Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, and other cities where universities churn out skilled coders.

"They are looking for all kinds of people, from hardware developers to programmers," says Marek Zaionc, head of the computer-science department at Krakow's Jagiellonian University. "We have a lot of good young people in these fields, and we're still a lot less expensive than other parts of Europe."

Eastern Europeans have dominated international programming competitions in recent years, attracting the attention of tech firms. Last year's TopCoder Collegiate Challenge drew 21,000 registrants from around the world, but half of the 48 finalists were from former Soviet bloc nations, including the winner, Petr Mitrichev of Russia, who also won last year's Global Code Jam, a Google-sponsored competition.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Google | Poland | Slovakia | Eastern Europe | Krakow | Bratislava | Jagiellonian University | Kosice

Tomasz Czajka, a 2004 graduate of Warsaw University, became a national celebrity in Poland after winning three TopCoder competitions in 2004-2005, racking up winnings of more than $100,000.

"When we saw these trends, of people from Eastern Europe winning these contests, we decided to take a closer look," says Kannan Pashupathy, Google's head of international engineering operations. "People have a huge interest in software, and there's a much deeper grounding in mathematics in the curriculum in these countries."

The region's universities have long been strong in hard and technical sciences, especially under Soviet rule, which emphasized industrial and military production. Tech firms began taking notice after 2000, when it became clear that Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia would be joining the European Union in 2004.

Cultural, geographic, and economic proximity to Western Europe has given the region an advantage over global competitors like India. Salaries in the region are much higher than in India, but still one-third to half of those in Western Europe. Bratislava, Slovakia's capital, is a few minutes' drive from Austria, while Kosice, Krakow, and other cities are a short flight from London, Paris, or Berlin. EU membership makes investing all that much easier for western firms.

Mr. Czajka's celebrated TopCoder victories have made programming particularly attractive to young Poles. "Everyone knows Tomasz Czajka and everyone wants to be like him," says Hibner, who recently won an international math competition. "Last time I was in Warsaw, there was a huge poster of him in the center of the city."

At AGH, the computer-science department now gets seven to eight applicants per spot. "We could easily take many times more students if we had the professors and facilities to handle them," says department chief Krzysztof Zielinski. "We're happy to provide computer engineers for the companies - it is our job - but we need some help from them. Right now, we are alone."

Indeed, computer-science professors from across the region say they fear their departments will be sucked dry by Western firms. The private companies offer salaries two or three times higher than those at the university - several times more if the job is in the U.S. or Western Europe - making it difficult to recruit new professors or to replace those who leave.

"If this department is destroyed," Mr. Zielinski says, "there will be no new engineers."

The problem is even more critical in Kosice, a city of 240,000 in impoverished eastern Slovakia, whose year-old information-technology industry has expanded so fast it is having trouble finding programmers. "So many people had left the region to find work in Prague, Bratislava, or London, it made it hard for us to achieve critical mass," says Jozef Ondas, a native who is CEO of T-Systems Slovakia, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom.

T-Systems, Siemens, and other companies in Kosice have found a solution: working together to help local universities increase their capacity to retrain engineers and other people with the necessary math skills, and to improve professors' incomes.

"We said: Why fight over the same 200 graduates each year?" says Mr. Ondas, CEO of T-Systems. "Let's invest and create an educational system that can produce 500 specialists each year."

"Businesspeople have come to the conclusion that they need the universities, not just their graduates," says Anton Cizmar, vice rector of the Technical University of Kosice. "I think it's a miracle what has happened here."

"If you invest in the university system and support research in areas of interest, students will naturally gravitate into those areas," says Mr. Pashupathy of Google, which opened its Krakow lab earlier this year. "It's a nice circle which ultimately benefits everybody."

Copyright 2007, The Christian Science Monitor

Do anyone counterfit Made in China goods? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398925)

Do anyone counterfit Made in China goods? I think since crap = china, no one does? What do china make besides cheap copy of west goods?

Re:Do anyone counterfit Made in China goods? (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399699)

In fact, almost everything is counterfeit from Chinese goods, since the original "high western quality" goods are also made in Chinese factories.

No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398677)

I'm surprised that no Indian universities achieved a higher ranking. They place much emphasis on competing in these sorts of programming challenges.

On one hand, it is essential to be able to quickly come up with creative solutions for a wide variety of problems. But it is also essential to focus on the other aspects of software development, including maintainability and quality. From my experience, those who come out of Indian universities have the problem solving skills, but they lack the full spectrum of skills necessary to produce software. The high degree of emphasis only on problem solving, contest-style skills may be the reason for this.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398701)

let's bring in nationalism in a CS competetion because you're a short sighted non thinking nerd

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398767)

Have you ever worked with any Indian-trained software developers? I can assure you, they're the first to bring up their contest superiority. But even then, it's not about nationalism. It's about the differences in their university/college culture, compared to that of Europe, North America, and elsewhere in the world. They're trained to focus on the speed of their software development, while most other universities around the world tend to train on quality and understanding.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398773)

I don't think it'd be a too far off to assume that most the participants, and competiting universities, do view this similar to most other international events. A sense of national pride is fairly implicit. (I wouldn't call it nationalism, though, wether it defines as such or not, has a slightly different taste and doesn't stink as much)

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (2, Funny)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399315)

I love it when ACs fight. Log-in you a**holes!

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1)

postmortem (906676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398703)

I'm not...the emphasis is one thing: list of nice wishes and expectations of Indian professors. The talent + strong theoretical mathematical background are another.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (2, Insightful)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398717)

I'm surprised that no Indian universities achieved a higher ranking. They place much emphasis on competing in these sorts of programming challenges.

Could it be that that there are no clear cut top universities for learning to program in India - i.e. they are all reasonable? If that was the case, the programming talent would get spread out and the universities would not progress as far as those who manage to attract all the programming talent in a country. Just a speculation...

Also, what portion of the team members actually are from the country they attend university in?

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398743)

> Could it be that that there are no clear cut top universities for learning to program in India - i.e. they are all reasonable?

I dont think this is the case. IIT is generally regarded as one of the best engineering univerisities in the world. Everyone who wants to be an engineer/scientist in India applies there. If anything, the best engineering undergrads in India are more concentrated than the best engineering undergrads in the US.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398969)

Curious. I've only heard Indians claim that.
It's probably wishful thinking. I know a couple of profs at IIT Mumbay and there's no way they
could be teaching at a top-tier american university.

You don't happen to be Indian, do you ?

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1)

seriv (698799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398837)

Really, this competition comes down the amount a team practices for the competition itself. Software development has really very little to do with the competition. There are three people on a team, and only one person sits at the computer at a time (at least in the regional competition, but I think the global is similar). It is a competition to see who can find a solution to a particular problem the fastest. As long as you are decent CS student who has studied algorithms, you will have the basics to do this competition. The differences between teams at the global level really come down to how much a team has practiced at solving the types of problems in the competition as fast as possible. The global level is made up of the top two teams from each regional event (several in the US, not as many around the world). I would guess that there would be around 6 Indian teams at the competition. I would think that Indian teams might have practiced more than in other regions, but it really doesn't make a significant difference since the top of the top will probably be about equal. What this all comes down to is that you clearly know nothing about this competition.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (2, Informative)

Hawkxor (693408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398869)

In MIT's case, they didn't really practice too much - but since the team basically consisted of USA IOI members from previous years (and they clearly practiced for that), they still perform well.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1)

debuglife (806973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399075)

Contrary to popular belief - the only people in CS departments in top indian schools are mathematicians. They are mathematicians who are doing CS because 1. There is a dearth of good math schools in India and 2. They want to milk the job prospect of a CS education. Unfortunately, the real hackers, the people who can really invent things are told that they are dumb, and stupid, because they cant do math. wtf. and that is why people will still want to leave india.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399825)

Sounds like they still teach computer science, as opposed to software development, in India. Good on them.

I know what I'd rather learn about in a university setting, and it's not a bunch of boring, if useful, methodologies.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (3, Interesting)

nick1000 (914998) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398889)

I am at the CS dept. in one of the highest ranked Indian universities in this years' ACM ICPC (I won't disclose which, but I am sure the same scenario exists at all institutes here).

Contrary to what you are saying, our institute places absolutely no emphasis on such programming challenges. Unlike some Russian univs (I don't know about US ones) we have no regular coaches. Nor do we have any year long "focussed" practice either.

We just attend the regular courses and if we feel like it, we try our skills at some local competition(like Google Code Jam) . The best performers become the team for ICPC.

Most institutes in India pay more attention in making a student either a researcher(motivating them for a PhD) or else someone suitable for the job market.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1)

James_Aguilar (890772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399291)

This was the way it was at my school too. When we went to the competition, we had to beg a professor to "coach" us, since you can't legally enter the contest without one. Even then, we ended up doing a good chunk of the paperwork that the coach would normally fill out. There was no "development abstraction layer" for us.

However, he did take time out of his schedule to come chill with us in San Antonio at the finals. The school also did offer to fly us out, but another entity took care of that angle. I can't give him or my school too much of a hard time about it, but I have no doubt that certain other institutions put a much higher priority on the contest than mine.

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399253)

I'm not surprised at all.
If you beleive that IQ is a good measure of intelligence, and is especially important in competitions such as this, and if you believe that research that the average IQ of Indians is way below the average of the top nations, then it shouldnt' be a surprise at all.
So even with over a billion people, it is still too difficult to find enough people with high intelligence to compete countries like Russia, Poland, and China?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_the_Wealth_of_ Nations [wikipedia.org]
And if you think this is an isolated incident, check out these results as well
http://www.topcoder.com/stat?c=country_avg_rating [topcoder.com]

Re:No Indian universities achieved a top ranking? (1)

krishn_bhakt (1031542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399779)

IIT, Madras is at Rank 44 and IIT, Bombay has been honored too.

Indians boast much but are miserable performers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399787)

Indians boast a lot but are actually miserable performers in practically everything, from sports (zero olympic golds) to software. The hindu code coolie or phone answerer is essentially an indentured servant for western corporations, doing grunt work that requires no originality or creative talent.

The indian educational system churns out tons of rote-learning "engineers", 95% of whom are unemployable. Its a pretty pathetic situation.

The dream of every educated indian is to escape from India!

Good job Harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398679)

Day 3 scoresheet says that Harvard attempted 14, and got one right.

Re:Good job Harvard (2, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398839)

Two points:

1) Harvard is not one of the top computer science universities in the United States. It is a good university nonetheless. And money can't buy better credentials :)

2) I think that alot of schools make half-assed attempts at the ACM contest. Meaning, maybe they get a handful of kids together to work on some practice problems a couple of times, maybe even once a week over a semester. When I went to CMU that's how it was, more or less. My friend was on the ACM team that went to nationals but didn't make it to internationals. I know what his course load was like that semester. I know that the ACM contest must have been pretty low on the priority queue.

There are some universities that I expect want the notariety of winning the ACM badly enough that the students who participate do little else besides prepare for the ACM. I would not expect Harvard to be one of those schools. What do they have to prove? They're Harvard for chrissakes!

Re:Good job Harvard (1)

textstring (924171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398905)

yea but from glancing at the problems (http://icpc.baylor.edu/icpc/Finals/2007WorldFinal ProblemSet.pdf pdf!), A and H are pretty much cakewalks (this is from a CS student with half a degree who only rarely dabbles with code in his free time).

Re:Good job Harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399021)

Considering H was not solved during the contest (in fact it had only one attempt total by all 88 teams), I'm sure some people would disagree with your assessment.

Re:Good job Harvard (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18400401)

A was "kinda" easy, the rest is ... ... well, let's say that ACM is a classical source of problems that seem easy "at first". From my own experience it also gets harder to solve problems during the in place finals since there are 'other factors', but these guys probably got used to it since they went to a lot of them in order to classify to the finals.

I am no frigging American, but let's be fair, getting to the finals is hard enough, and Harvard's position is not exactly terrible.

Re:Good job Harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18401849)

H is definitely not a cakewalk. Now, it is not too difficult either, but you do have to think clearly and have some idea of geometry.

The z coordinate is totally irrelevant and can be thrown away. It is very important that triangles may occlude other triangles, but for determining the total cross section it doesn't matter which are in front and which are behind.

To do this I would write a method to decompose two arbitrary triangles in the x-y plane into n non-overlapping triangles. This is the hard part. It requires some knowledge of geometry to correctly categorize all the possible cases. I believe it basically comes down to "which edges of triangle ABC cross each edge of triangle DEF?". Sketching on a napkin, I find at least ten distinct cases, and I have not been totally systematic, so there may be a few more or a few less. Anyway, to write an algorithm to handle this is certainly doable, but takes some thought. And if you can handle it correctly, then it is not hard to make n as small as possible. (And I don't think it ever needs to be larger than 4.)

Once that is done, *then* the problem has become a cakewalk. You just build up a list of non-overlapping triangles by adding the 'roof' triangles one at a time using the method outlined above. Then you add up the areas to get the final answer.

There is another strategy that could be easier to write. The total area of the figure is the sum of the areas of all the triangles, minus the areas of the pairwise intersections, plus the areas of the three-fold intersections, minus the areas of the four-fold intersections, etc. These intersections are all convex polygons, so it is easy to find their vertices and it's easy to calculate their areas. You can easily implement this recursively. Unfortunately, there exist really bad input sets for which this will take O(N!) time. On the other hand, these don't describe realistic roofs, unless you are looking at (say) a fifty-story building with fifty square roofs...

Re:Good job Harvard (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399027)

Universities that don't engage in challenges or bleeding edge research can quickly lose their reputation. Harvard could only go so far without improvement before it became a place that used to be good.

I know of one in the UK that was, a few years ago, considered to be among the top 5 for CS. Nowadays it would be hard pressed to appear at any meaningful position at all.

Why? Because they were 'so good' that they froze things as they were to maintain their level of excellence, causing other universities to charge ahead.

Also, Oxford university was doing so badly a few years ago in running courses that were relevant to the modern age that they tried to merge with a newer local university called Oxford Brookes (old style tech college, now a university), and Oxford Brookes turned them down because it would be detrimental to their image. Who'd have thought that would happen? I mean, Oxford University getting turned down!

Bizarrely, even though many in academia scoffed at this wannabe university, it turned out to have such a high level of excellence that students would come to Oxford to attend Brookes, not the venerable old Oxford University.

Incidentally, the CS dept at Brookes was so superior to that of Oxford uni that it wasn't even funny.
This was a decade ago, things might have improved since.

Re:Good job Harvard (1)

BitchKapoor (732880) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399211)

Universities that don't engage in challenges or bleeding edge research can quickly lose their reputation. Harvard could only go so far without improvement before it became a place that used to be good.

Oh, definitely, but I don't think that's the case here. Harvard has good computer science researchers, they just doesn't enjoy the scale and prominence of, say, CMU. For example, Michael Rabin, Harry Lewis, and Leslie Valiant are all big names in CS at Harvard, and they also have other well-known researchers like Greg Morrisett and Norman Ramsey.


Re:Good job Harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399527)

As a current Oxford research assistant, I call complete bullshit on this. Oxford is definitely not the best CS dept in the country but its in the top ten. However brookes is certainly not. I can not conceivably consider somebody turning down Oxford for Oxford brooks.

Re:Good job Harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399799)

Being a top-ten university in a country that has only 15 universities isn't such an accomplishment!

Re:Good job Harvard (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18401787)

I said ten years ago did I not. I added this qualifier because I have no idea how they compare nowadays

Besides, one of you lot scoffed at my 'puny' but hard won computing resources last year, so I'm probably not well inclined towards you.

Re:Good job Harvard (2, Interesting)

odano (735445) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399681)

I was part of the team that placed 2nd in the southern california regional, and seeing how badly some of these teams did [harvard, UNC] is very disheartening, because our region only had enough schools competing to send 1 team. It is tough to know that the only team that closely beat us in the regional contest placed 12th in the world, and yet the US is still sending teams who can't solve more than 1 or 2 problems and crack the top 50.

Maybe the ACM should open up more spots based on how the regions perform at the World Finals and less on the number of schools that compete if they really want to send the best teams.

Re:Good job Harvard (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18403487)

southern cal only gets one team, and North Carolina gets two? (Duke+UNC) (also fwiw, I went to Duke, and i do not by any means think it is a good CS school)

That's kind of weird--just how do these regional rules work?

Why wasn't I invited? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398685)

I would have smoked them all.

Re:Why wasn't I invited? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398903)

I would have smoked them all.
Nerds don't care about your cock smoking abilities. Best to stick to sports locker rooms for now.
 

Two Dum to help myself (1)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398707)

In Soviet Russia, Third Place Wins You!

Why MIT lost (4, Funny)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398721)

They forgot about Poland!

Re:Why MIT lost (1)

blank_vlad (876519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398885)

Uh, Offtopic? *whoosh*! Mod parent Funny: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_forgot_Poland [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why MIT lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399377)

Mod grandparent "Old joke that wasn't funny 3 years ago"

Re:Why MIT lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18401091)

Mod parent bitter Polack.

Re:Why MIT lost (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18402633)

Mmmmm! Bitter Polack!

Re:Why MIT lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18400913)

During Poland's service in the United States Congress, it took the initiative in creating the Internet.

No surprise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398729)

Only semi-surprise was not seeing japan in the top 5.

Re:No surprise. (1)

Sorcha Payne (1047874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398769)

I thought a nice surprise was that there were 4 canadian universities placing highly, and a fifth that got an honorable mention.

Re:No surprise. (1)

glyph42 (315631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18404787)

Not a surprise. If you look at the history of the contest, you will find that the University of Waterloo has won twice:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:ReiVaX/SWERC [wikipedia.org]

It's pretty common for multiple Canadian teams to place in the top 10 or 20, year after year.

Holy crap!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398731)

Auckland University (where I went) came 11th! Where the hell did that come from?

Think Bulls + Jordan & Bulls - Jordan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398747)

Think Bulls + Jordan & Bulls - Jordan

It only takes one to make or break

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398759)

And to think my team was eliminated in the first round...

*stupid teammate hogging the computer...*

Cold war? (0, Offtopic)

malkir (1031750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398823)

Well well well, Russia - we meet again.

Problem inputs? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398871)

The PDF of the problem sets are up, but no mention of when/where the input data and solutions will be posted. Are these currently available?
 

Re:Problem inputs? (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398915)

It seems that nowadays, no "official" solutions are posted. (sorry if I am wrong) Solutions usually come from universities who managed to solve them. Well, it would be better that way since we would have something to practice on. :D

Would the slashdot community come up with the solutions and post it here? :D

*Timer starts now*

Re:Problem inputs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399155)

It seems that nowadays, no "official" solutions are posted. (sorry if I am wrong) Solutions usually come from universities who managed to solve them. Well, it would be better that way since we would have something to practice on. :D
No official solutions are ever given, even locally for the teams. Partially this is because in theory a better solution always exists, and of course you don't want to stifle the creativity of the teams either. However the side effect is this completely cuts out the newbies.

Would the slashdot community come up with the solutions and post it here? :D

*Timer starts now*
In 10 years we'll both look back at this laugh...

Thoughts on the contest (1)

bryan986 (833912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398877)

I participated in the contest myself, and I have to say the problems were very difficult for everyone at our contest site. Best team here got 2 out of the 8 questions solved. I'd be willing to bet the winning teams had graduate students, where a lot of teams can have sophmores or juniors and won't fare as well. Regions often have different questions as well because they compete at different times during the year. Kudos to the top teams, not an easy feat, many factors go into deciding who is the best.

Re:Thoughts on the contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18398965)

When I did it the questions were mostly only hard because of the wording. There's usually a lot of ambiguity in what will actually be tested. For example, one question was to implement an asteroid early warning system and the 'trick' was that some input had an asteroid with it's two measured positions being the exact center of the earth (ie to test for divide by zero). Needless to say it's impossible for an asteroid to reach the center of the earth and still get a reading on it...

So what I wonder is if the questions are translated to other languages and how that affects figuring out what the 'tricks' like this are going to be. The other point is that since the questions are so much relying on obscure test cases (your answer comes back 'fail-segv' or 'fail-wrong' or 'compile-failed' and that's it) it seems like a country that obtained the test data would be able to win for sure. Especially countries that put their pride on the line, like Russia and China, and aren't really known for playing fair, I wonder what the level of cheating is.

Re:Thoughts on the contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18399181)

"... Especially countries that put their pride on the line, like Russia and China, and aren't really known for playing fair, I wonder what the level of cheating is."

That's bullshit on so many levels (direct, comparative, personal, motivation, logic/dialectics, you name it).

Go Tsinghua! (3, Insightful)

megaduck (250895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398921)

I've never been to Warsaw, but I did spend some time at Tsinghua University last year. The people that attend Tsinghua are quite literally the best and brightest that China can produce, and that's saying something. The entrance requirements are brutally difficult, and the students I dealt with were some of the smartest people I've ever met. I'm not surprised that Tsinghua students can go toe-to-toe with the best American students and win.

    These contest results become even more impressive when you consider that Tsinghua, like many developing Universities, currently has one hand tied behind its back. Tsinghua's School of Software is only a few years old, and has very limited resources. The library is small, the facilities are lacking, and the dorms are absolutely atrocious to live in (much less study). Much of the learning material that these kids are using is in English, not their native language. The fact that they're internationally competitive in any way is astounding.

    A lot of us in the American educational system have a kind of bigotry when looking at foreign universities. This is particularly true in the Computer Science field. We see these kind of results and say "Well, these foreign students may be good at these programming challenges, but what can they do in the real world?" There may be a grain of truth there, but not for long. What happens in twenty years, when the great Universities of China, India, Poland, etc. have had some time to develop their C.S. and engineering programs? As an American, I want to believe that my country produces the best engineers and programmers in the world, but I think we're going to have some very stiff competition in the future.

Re:Go Tsinghua! (3, Informative)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399015)

The thing is that Poland has had time to develop their CS programs which is why they're so good, the soviets did not exactly skimp out on such things (you have lines for bread but free good education). They may actually be going downhill more than anything now, for various reasons. I've heard complaints from former students (ie: students back during the soviet years) of the CS program degrading now.

That's for example why you have so many hackers in the former soviet bloc, there is an infrastructure to educate people but for a good time (after the USSR collapsed) there were no jobs for them.

Poland is an industrialized/technological nation but simply has a horrid government and crappy economy (later is partially a result of the former).

Still as I understand it Warsaw University is one of the places to go to school in Poland and its free if you get in. Granted the entrance requirements/system is arsine (for many reasons) but that applies to all Polish public universities. I guess I'd call it SATs on crack and while they do catch a lot of the good students they also don't catch a lot of them.

Re:Go Tsinghua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18401625)

Poland was not a Soviet country.

Re:Go Tsinghua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18403399)

Poland's economy is far from crappy. Take it into account that Poland's private sector is almost entirely without foreign debt and foreign trade is pretty much balanced, unlike some other new EU countries who boast bigger GDP numbers and more rapid economic growth. Being unable to buy plasma TVs with Swedish banks' loan money doesn't mean the country's economy's crappy. Growing slower, yes, but with less risks involved.

Re:Go Tsinghua! (1)

p88h (446549) | more than 7 years ago | (#18403451)

I graduated the Warsaw University and I need to correct you on several points:
* The university started winning almost every year in the recent years. It didn't do as well before - in the 80's and early 90's the CS program sucked big time due to lack of equipment, knowledge etc, so the imminent 'downfall' isn't really what's happening or will be. True, the education has gotten less strict, but the universities keep their standards.
* You are confusing Poland and the Soviet Republic, regarding the jobs market for IT engineers. When the EU borders opened a couple of years ago, everybody estimated a lot of Polish programmers will 'escape' to Germany. They didn't, so they clearly have something to do here. There are a lot of big companies building software engineering centers in Poland - eg. Intel, Motorola, IBM, HP, Samsung, and recently Googl - many of those in low-level, high-profile, embedded software development. You might want to consider that one of the biggest STB providers, ADB, is actually a Polish company.
* The Polish government _is_ crappy, however that doesn't really harm it's economy, which is quite fine.

I cannot comment on the newest recruitment system (which is weird) - never experienced it. Same goes for about 50% of the students of IT at Warsaw university, they get around the system being the finalist of IT Olympics. So we still get the best - don't worry ;)

Re:Go Tsinghua! (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18404813)

* The university started winning almost every year in the recent years. It didn't do as well before - in the 80's and early 90's the CS program sucked big time due to lack of equipment, knowledge etc, so the imminent 'downfall' isn't really what's happening or will be. True, the education has gotten less strict, but the universities keep their standards.

I talked to people who went back in the 70s which probably explains it. Good to hear that its on the rise.

* You are confusing Poland and the Soviet Republic, regarding the jobs market for IT engineers. When the EU borders opened a couple of years ago, everybody estimated a lot of Polish programmers will 'escape' to Germany. They didn't, so they clearly have something to do here. There are a lot of big companies building software engineering centers in Poland - eg. Intel, Motorola, IBM, HP, Samsung, and recently Googl - many of those in low-level, high-profile, embedded software development. You might want to consider that one of the biggest STB providers, ADB, is actually a Polish company.

Interesting, I remember seeing a crappy IT market when I was there in the late 90s and I didn't hear good things in general the last time I went. Well it's good to hear that the economy is going up. I mean if the US finally goes off the deep end at least I can run away to a decent nation.

* The Polish government _is_ crappy, however that doesn't really harm it's economy, which is quite fine.

Depends how you define fine, I've heard some rather bad things about trying to run a small business. Apparently there is some horrid accounting mess and labor laws that make it not worth it to hire permanent staff.

I cannot comment on the newest recruitment system (which is weird) - never experienced it. Same goes for about 50% of the students of IT at Warsaw university, they get around the system being the finalist of IT Olympics. So we still get the best - don't worry ;)

That's good to hear. I personally find it really scary when people praise the US system compared to their own which is what gave me the impression of large problems.

Re:Go Tsinghua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18404141)

Mod him down, he's and idiot. The guys who have won have nothing in common with USSR or this soviet bullshit he's talking about.

Having a different education system than US has doesn't mean it's worse. People in Europe are just smarter than dumb Americans.

Re:Go Tsinghua! (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18404519)

See I've actually talked to people who need to deal with the Polish system. Let me put it this way, a single type by someone entering your record in the central office and your college chances are fucked. Likewise everything is based on a single metric that is in some ways arbitrary.

What will happen in twenty years when they develop (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399043)

You are asking what will happen to this chinese university that came 2nd, when it aquires the same level of "development" as the univeristy that a shared 3rd?

Mmmm, geez, that is a though one.

They would loose to the next country that spends more time learning then on needless luxuries?

Your question would only work in a positive way IF the chinese had come say third to MIT. If I, an amateur, drive in Formula 1 and end in 10th place then you might well wonder what I could do if in couple of years time I race again but with proper training and a good support team. You do NOT ask that question if I came in second and the so called top team didn't come in second but third. A shared third. First going to another cheapo team like Benneton (do they still race?)

Perhaps MIT should learn from this and cut down on the luxuries a bit.

Re:What will happen in twenty years when they deve (0, Flamebait)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399117)

You miss the point, it's akin to you coming in second in a go-cart race that you spent all your time working on while the third place guy also got first in a nascar race (ie: the go-cart race was for fun).

It's an utterly artificial and in real life worthless measure, essentially its the Chinese not MIT that is wasting time on worthless "luxuries" (ie: the ability to say "we got second").

If all you can do is some narrow work based on months of repetitive learning then prepare to be unemployed when you hit 40. If you learn to be adaptable and multidisciplinary then it doesn't matter if your field goes down the craper as you can just change to another one (and likely already have your feet in 5 different ones).

Re:What will happen in twenty years when they deve (1)

DMorritt (923396) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399359)

thats the worst analogy ever, your not giving the Chinese the credit they deserve, its the typical macho american response the world expects these days - dont agree with america? your just wrong then. or we didnt win? we werent taking it seriously.

i think personally Poland have done very well, when you look at the numbers of chinese and american students, the fact that Poland can put together a world beating team shouldnt be overlooked, with all the extra resources, China and the USA should be looking ay Poland and wondering how they can match this.

Re:What will happen in twenty years when they deve (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399443)

thats the worst analogy ever, your not giving the Chinese the credit they deserve, its the typical macho american response the world expects these days - dont agree with america? your just wrong then. or we didnt win? we werent taking it seriously.

Huh? Just because it doesn't agree with your worldview doesn't make it false. It's quite true that American universities do not place emphasis on this competition although as I understand the students had practiced for a different competition. I mean we do place emphasis on a lot of other worthless garbage (the Math GRE being one imho).

The Asian and Eastern European method is based on mindless study and memorization, way beyond what is done in the US. Like the GP said, it is an accomplishment but that doesn't somehow mean they're good at other more important activities. The competition is in most senses of the word worthless in the US (at best a nice line on your resume) and likely only worthwhile in other nations due to social reasons (ie: that line on the resume carries a lot of weight). Instead of studying for it students could be studying for actual subjects, doing research or starting their own companies.

i think personally Poland have done very well, when you look at the numbers of chinese and american students, the fact that Poland can put together a world beating team shouldnt be overlooked, with all the extra resources, China and the USA should be looking ay Poland and wondering how they can match this.

Not really, like I said before it is a worthless competition as most competitions are. Please if you think otherwise then tell me why spending months studying for this competition is in any way a good use of time?

You don't need to compete if you don't need a boost in prestige which the US doesn't need much. Poland has a long history of placing emphasis on such competitions, back from the soviet days. It's an artificial measure; the equivalent of intellectual sport (being good at baseball isn't a practical skill baring being a baseball player for life) but "winning" is worth a lot to some people. Now Poland does have a decent system of education but as I hear it is going downhill. That they can get a bunch of intelligent people to waste that much time to do that well on this competition might say something about how skewed their priorities are. And for the record I'm Polish and visited a couple months back.

Exclusivism in admissions gets us nowhere. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399427)

I'm not surprised that Tsinghua students can go toe-to-toe with the best American students and win.
So much for educational streaming and "teaching to the test".

What happens in twenty years, when the * have had some time to develop their C.S. and engineering programs?
We'll be able to discredit some of their teams for the one-dimensionality of going for the single test.

"Well, these foreign students may be good at these programming challenges, but what can they do in the real world?"
Nothing unless some tax-evading multinational hands it to them. That has been protocol in some form since the later part of the 20th century.

As an American, I want to believe that my country produces the best engineers and programmers in the world, but I think we're going to have some very stiff competition in the future.
How about scaling back exclusivity to access some of these fine universities for citizens of all social classes (or something that makes identifying a university an illegal question in the workplace)? Also, drop the funding games to give the illusion of accessibility(Yes, MIT, that means you!) - no real good comes out of it.

A lot of us in the American educational system have a kind of bigotry when looking at foreign universities
Odd, I see a lot more arrogance, in the admissions departments. They've even influenced state-level institutions, who should be focusing on in-state students first, to join in the "fun". Take away the game from the admissions officers and let the students go where they wish, with no worries about funding.

Educational streaming(by economics, by hiding behind the excuse of "private organization", and by any other means that is implemented) is fun and games until it ends up making the periodic mistake.

Re:Exclusivism in admissions gets us nowhere. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399685)

How about scaling back exclusivity to access some of these fine universities for citizens of all social classes

Top universities provide very nice undergraduate financial aid packages. While admission will be harder for those without money, for various reasons including available activities during high school and knowing how to fill out the app, there are no massive barriers. Graduate school on the other hand likewise allows for anyone to access it and usually provides some form of financing for students (depends on the department of course).

(or something that makes identifying a university an illegal question in the workplace)?

Then you need to remove transcripts and GPAs as questions/requests which would cause lots of fun problems. I mean heck, there'd be no way to even check that you have a college degree. Anyway the university you went to says a lot, not alone per say but rather in combination with what you've done and your grades.

Of course mainly you're supposed to network and make connections at top schools, and those are the most important factor in getting a job imho.

9th Question (1)

lhpineapple (468516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18398943)

I heard the ninth question was Fizzbuzz, but it was deemed too difficult for the competition.

There were 10 problems, not 8 (2, Informative)

Stone Rhino (532581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399099)

The summary is incorrect. They solved 8, which was more than any other team, but left two problems unattempted. If you look at the packet you can easily see why.

Re:There were 10 problems, not 8 (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18400549)

Which ones? Those with no pictures?

Re:There were 10 problems, not 8 (1)

marcog123 (969158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18404081)

Problems H (Raising the Roof) and J (Tunnels) were the two problems no team solved. Problem E (Collecting Luggage) was only solved by Warsaw University in the last hour.

A rough ranking of the problems from easy to difficult based on number of teams that solved them:

  1. Problem B (Containers)
  2. Problem A (Consanguine Calculations)
  3. Problem G (Network)
  4. Problem C (Grand Prix)
  5. Problem F (Marble Game)
  6. Problem D (Jacquard Circuits)
  7. Problem I (Water Tanks)
  8. Problem E (Collecting Luggage)
  9. Problem H (Raising the Roof)
  10. Problem J (Tunnels)

UT vs UT (1)

Ayal.Rosenthal (1070472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399161)

Wow! UT Dallas placed and UT Austin (honorable mention) did not. That is shocker. At least we got the football team. Hook 'em horns!

Polish team (1)

obidobi (306713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18399619)

Filip Wolski in the winning team, won the gold medal at the World Computer Science Contest in Mexico last year.

Seems like a pretty smart guy :)

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1687592/p osts/ [freerepublic.com]

Re:Polish team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18401643)

Makes me proud to be of Polish heritage, & part of THIS field as well! :)

(He's going to be a great one in this arena, joining the likes of (lately) Joanna Rutkowska & Michael Zalewski, who are contributing to making discoveries in the area of computer security/forensics regarding Windows VISTA, & Mozilla FireFox respectively!)

Sincerely,

Alexander Peter Kowalski
apk

P.S.=> I've had to deal with "stupid polock" being tossed my way by ignorant fools more than my share of times in this life... & this type of article & its result utterly disproves that blatant stupidity (the saying itself)!

This contest's results, along w/ my 'tribe' breaking the Nazi "enigma" code (a supposedly unbreakable cipher) earlier this century during WWII, in the area of crypto-analysis, & without the benefit of today's F A S T computer systems no less... This gets a bookmark/fav. from me, & yes, I am proud of these folks, including Mr. Wolski as well as the others I mention above! apk

But the judging data was screwed up (again) (4, Interesting)

gvc (167165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18400387)

Many teams lost untold time on J because the judge data did not meet the input specification.

ICPC has had this problem before. Four times in my direct experience, most notably ICPC World Finals 2000 [slashdot.org] at which they refused to acknowledge their error until weeks later.

This year the data for problem J was wrong, so teams got "run time error" instead of "wrong answer;" many spent vast amounts of time trying to find the source of their crash when in fact it was the judges' fault. All submissions were rejudged at the eleventh hour, when it was too late to fix the problem or to move on to another question.

There is really no excuse for this sort of error. Published guidelines [win.tue.nl] make it clear that input checkers should be written for all problems, yet the finals judges don't bother, and the finals organization imposes no standard on them to do so. Furthermore, the organizers refuse to release any information about the test sets, so we have no idea how many screwups have been covered up.

Here is a list of data errors for which I have first-hand knowledge. I'm sure there are many more.

Finals '97 -- Problem C has ambigous output but the
                            judges rejected some correct solutions
                            (all but their expected one?) Complaints
                            were responded to with "no response."

Finals '98 -- Problem D had empty lines in the input,
                            contrary to the specification.

Finals '00 -- The infamous graph that was not connected,
                            contrary to the problem spec (Problem F)

Finals '07 -- Problem J was supposed to have maximum size
                            64, but was 100. Rejudged in the last hour
                            of contest. Many submissions changed from
                            run-time or time limit to wrong answer.

I am at a loss to understand why the organizers fail to implement better quality control, and why they refuse to release the data and solutions. Bad calls will happen, but the lack of quality control and the lack of transparency exacerbates the problem considerably. These failures, in my opinion, detracts substantially from the contest.

Gordon Cormack
Coach, Waterloo ACM Team

Re:But the judging data was screwed up (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18403555)

Coach, Waterloo ACM Team


What? You're telling me that every prof at U.Waterloo writes solutions to every problem that they pose. To the written spec, not just what they imagine in their head? And that they double check that their test input (which isn't revealed until after the assignment is past-due -- if it's revealed at all -- or when the exam is handed out) actually matches the input description (and all interpretations of the description)?

As a Waterloo grad, I know that this isn't true.

As someone who has taught at Waterloo, I doubly know that this isn't true.

Exams always have errors. Assignments always have ambiguities.

I am at a loss to understand why the organizers fail to implement better quality control, and why they refuse to release the data and solutions. Bad calls will happen, but the lack of quality control and the lack of transparency exacerbates the problem considerably.


Then do something about it. Push for better quality control. Implement it yourself if no-one else will do the work. Refuse to participate if it doesn't happen. *$#!, submit a paper to SIGCSE about why the ACM contest is meaningless and try to embarrass them into doing something.

Re:But the judging data was screwed up (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18404047)

Ummm. I think that marking assignments at UW, done by TA's is nothing like an International Programming Contest. If you find a problem with the marking of an assignment or exam you can get it corrected. I believe at these contests you submit you code (in some form) and it is verified to decide whether you completed the question properly or not. You don't get to know if you assignment is correct when you submit, only after marking is done.
Gotta feed the trolls.

Re:But the judging data was screwed up (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18405505)

Is the published problemset different from the one that was given to the teams? I guess there's no 64 in the problem statement for task J, only 50 and 1000...

Re:But the judging data was screwed up (again) (1)

gvc (167165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18406285)

My mistake. The problem says 50, not 64.

Re:But the judging data was screwed up (again) (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18407059)

There is a link to the problem set on the page in the summary. I see no limit of 100 or 64 in any aspect of this problem.

There does a appear to be a limit of 1001 lines *for each test case* however the number of test cases is unspecified.

And besides, since when do you fail to do input validation in the program itself? I know you're trying to save time in a programming contest environment, but if the program comes back with a run-time error, you should really be putting in input validation. Unless you have reason to believe you know what the problem is, in which case, why did you submit early?

It was fun (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18401045)

I participated back when I was in school. It was a lot of fun. We did well (4th one year, 2nd the next), so that helped!

My old school was tied for last this year, but hey at least they were there.

There is no tie for 3rd place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18401215)

St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics and Optics (Russia) and MIT (USA) are NOT tied for the 3rd place. According to the contest rules [baylor.edu] top 12 teams are ranked by the number of problems solved first, and time it took them to solve those problems second. As final results show, St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics and Optics (Russia) took 3rd place, while MIT (USA) is 4th.

test cases available? (1)

tap (18562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18405917)

I know of official test cases aren't made public, so that the officials can cover up their mistakes. But does anyone else provide test cases they made up after the contest? In my experience, dealing with corner cases you didn't think of is one of the hardest things to get right.
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