An Eyewitness account from the NCPC

An Eyewitness account from the NCPC – Part 1/3

Editors note: The absolute top commenter and a huge help on the blog Suprdewd  has recently participated in the Nordic Collegial Programming Challenge 2011. I was all excited of his participation and convinced him to write about the experience. SuprDewd is a 17 old computer science student from Iceland with 4 years experience programming and a much greater insight in the C# API than I can ever hope to gain. He keeps a nice collection of methods and algorithms at his Github repository which I can recommend you to pay a visit. But enough blabbering from me. Lets hear what he has to say.

I recently took part in the Nordic Collegial Programming Challenge 2011 (NCPC). It was very exciting and I had loads of fun. The problems were tough, but I’m going to walk you through some of them, while trying to share insight about the competition.

Before we get started, let me just give you a run through what NCPC and the international version ICPC is.

What is ICPC?

Who can explain what ICPC is better than a website tied to the competition. A small quote from  the NCPC homepage:

The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) is a world-wide contest for students and professionals, with local and regional events, and a world final. The contest is about programming skills, problem solving and teamwork. In short terms, teams of up to three students try to solve as many programming problems as possible from a given problem set, using only one computer. See for example the problems from NCPC 2005 to get the general idea. You may use C, C++ or Java.

The ICPC has grown to become very large. Thousands of teams from thousands universities world wide compete in the regional contests which lead up to the World Finals. Less than a hundred team get to go there, but many Nordic teams have been there the last years.

What is NCPC?

I participated in the NCPC, but what is that and how does it relate to the ICPC? To put it short, the NCPC is the Nordic regional event of the ICPC. To give a bit more insight here are a few more quotes from the  NCPC website it self.

The contest is suitable for programmers of almost all skill levels, from beginner to expert, as the problem set always has both very easy and very difficult problems. There are also separate score tables for the local sites, national level and the entire Nordic contest. This means you can choose on which level you want to compare yourself.

The rules for the NCPC are the same as for the ICPC regional contests. In NCPC, you are allowed to bring any printed or handwritten material to the contest. No machine readable media or electronic equipment may be brought.

This is what I participated in and here is my story.

My Story

I don’t remember how, but I found NCPC’s website at the beginning of this year. I asked a teacher from Reykjavík University (I’ll use RU here after), which had taught one of the classes I attended, about the competition. He talked to the guy who was hosting the local contest and told me that I was allowed to compete even though it is mainly for university students. My teammates and I were very excited and happy. Especially since only one of us is in a university yet.

The past month before the competition we would meet in a classroom in RU, every Saturday and Wednesday, and solve problems that another participant had prepared. So the fun had already started a month before the competition even started. Attending these meetings was informative and really reminded me of how much I love solving problems.

The competition was held at RU for Icelandic teams. There were only 4 teams from Iceland and we were all in the same classroom during the competition. All of us were having fun. All the teams were pretty even the whole time, and a live scoreboard was available online, so everyone was on their toes the whole competition. A lot of cheering was heard every time a problem was successfully submitted from any of the teams. The last hour the live online scoreboard was disabled to boost the excitement. I’ll tell you how my team did later, but first I’m going to show you the problems.

Editors note: I will cut SuprDewd off here for today, but I promise you he will be back to continue his story tomorrow. So if you want to know how he fared, stop by tomorrow for the next chapter of the competition.

Link to the next part: Part 2

Posted by Kristian

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