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International Programming Contests

The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is a programming world championship for college students organized and conducted yearly by the ACM. It started in 1970 as a local contest somewhere in Texas and has since grown exponentially in the number of participating universities each year. The numbers are impressive: in 2000 there were more then 2700 teams, from 1079 universities, 70 countries, participating in 42 regional contests distributed among 82 locations.

The ACM programming contest provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate and sharpen their problem solving and computing skills. Apart from the fun of competing (and hopefully winning), the contest is also an excelent opportunity to make international contacts in computing science. The Contest is a two-tiered competition among teams of students representing institutions of higher education. The winning teams of the regional contests (held from mid-September to mid-December each year) will go forward to the contest world finals which are held in the following Spring.

The Regionals and World Finals usually comprehend a 5-hours programming contest with 8 or 9 problems to be solved by teams. Teams are composed by upto 3 students and may submit their program solutions in a number of programming languages, usually: Pascal, C, C++ or Java. A submitted solution is declared as accepted if it successfully produces the same outputs, for a set of input tests, as those of the jury. The team that solves more problems in less (accumulated) time, is declared the winner.

These events are coordinated by the ACM-ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contests; directed by Professor Bill Poucher), under the patronage of ACM and sponsored world wide by IBM.

There are other similar contests taking place:

  • Preliminairy contestes: these are contests mainly directed towards selecting teams for the Regionals; usually take place at University and/or Country-level.

  • Online contests: these may be contests running simulatneously with some other official contest (local or regional), or is just a team preparation contest. The following sites frequently organize programming online contests: Valladolid and Ural University.

  • 24-hours Judge: these are associated with sites that function as problem Archives. They allow site members to submit solutions to the problems in the archive. The members are ranked by the numbers of problems solved. The following sites are two of the main problem archivers with a 24-hour judge: Valladolid and Ural University.