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The ACM Programming Contest - The Olympic Games of Computer Science

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The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is a programming world championship for college students, organized and conducted yearly by the ACM. Started 1970 as a local contest somewhere in Texas and then having grown exponentially in the number of participating universities each year, the contest now is spanning the globe. Meanwhile it has been referred to as the Superbowl of Computer Programming or even as the Olympic Games of Computer Science, making other programming contests look like amateur competitions.

The ACM programming contest provides college 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 also provides an excellent opportunity for listening to well-known speakers and making 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-October to mid-December each year) will go forward to the contest world finals which are held in the following spring in conjunction with the ACM Computer Science Conference.

Outline of The Event

This Mid Central European Regional Programming Contest is one of twenty-four regional programming contests to select the teams that will represent our region at the finals. The contest finals will be held in Vancouver, Canada, at the beginning of March 2001 in conjunction with the ACM Computer Science Conference.

The Mid Central European Regional Programming Contest is organized by the ACM Mid Central European Regional Contest Organization Committee under the patronage of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Freiburg, Germany. This contest will last 2 1/2 days from 17 - 19 November, 2000.

We suggest participants to already arrive on Friday afternoon (why not make a city tour?) and register for the contest. On Saturday morning there will be a presentation of the computer science division of the University of Freiburg. At noon, lunch will be served in the university cafeteria. The afternoon will be reserved for a practice session to get acquainted with the contest environment (networked Unix workstations). The evening will feature either an optional social event or a dinner in the university cafeteria (we haven't yet decided it...).

The actual contest will take place from 10:00 to 15:00 on Sunday. The starting time is not yet fixed; in any case, the contest will last exactly five hours. Each team, composed of up to three students, will get a set of six to nine problems which they have to solve on a single computer, programming either C, C++, Java or Pascal. During the whole contest, a buffet lunch will be provided. In the evening, a social event will be offered to all participants and their coaches, and the winning teams will be announced.

Contest Rules Summary

The contest rules closely resemble to the rules to be used at the finals. The most important aspects are briefly outlined below (detailed rules are also available):

Team Eligibility

A team consists of up to three contestants. Each contestant must be a student enrolled in a degree program at the sponsoring institution with at least half-time load. At least two contestants must be undergraduate students. No contestant may have completed two years of post-baccalaureate studies or hold a graduate degree. Students who have competed in two contest finals are not eligible. A member of the faculty of the institution sponsoring the team must certify the eligibility of all contestants. Each team designates a team coach (preferably not a contestant) who will be the team representative and point of contact before (e-mail, fax and material mail) and during (direct conversation) the contest.

Each university may send up to three teams. A university is not allowed to participate in more than one regional contest. Since the call for participation may reach more than one person at your university, please ask around to make sure we do not receive several (uncoordinated) applications from different persons from the same university.

Contest format

The contest lasts five hours. Each team has to solve a set of six to nine problems on a single computer in either ANSI-C or ISO-Pascal or C++. To get an idea of the kind of problems, have a look at our problem set archive which contains a large number of problems from past contests.

Contestants may bring reference materials such as books and manuals; but neither machine-readable versions nor their own computers or pocket calculators are allowed. Solutions are judged by running them for some secret test cases. The contest judges are the solely responsible for determining the correctness of the submitted solutions; their decision is final. Teams are ranked according to the most problems solved. Teams who solve the same number of problems are ranked by least total time.

Each participant will receive an award. Furthermore, IBM will be donating software to all participants.

Contest Regions

Teams are expected to participate at the site assigned to their country. Exceptionally (with written consent of both contest directors) teams from Europe are allowed to participate in an other than their assigned location. However, if an university can send more than one team, all of them have to go to the same location. Requests to change the location should be addressed to both contest directors and submitted in written form, explaining the reason of the change.

Contest Site

The contest will be held at the Faculty of Applied Science of the University of Freiburg. Buses run every 10 minutes from the inner city to the University and there's enough parking available at the University.


For accommodation, we made a special arrangement with a contest hotel. It is within walking distance from the railway station and can also be reached comfortably by public transportation. Each room has bath/toilet, colour TV, radio and phone; the rates include all taxes. They are DM 69,- per room and night in a 2-bed room (include 15,- for a breakfast buffet). You have to book yourself at the contest hotel directly. The arrangement must be made by no later than November 1, 2000.

Expenses and Registration

There is no participation fee as long as you don't miss the application deadline (November 1, 2000). Teams registering later than this date will have to pay a participation fee of 360 DM (200 US$) per team. (Actually, there is a fee for every team, but IBM will pay for the teams registering in time. So don't be silly! Don't miss the deadline!)

Teams arriving before Friday noon who wish to have lunch in the University Cafeteria will have to pay the standard price (around 5 DM). Don't forget to bring your student ID card with you! On Saturday and Sunday, lunch and dinner is free.

Since IBM is sponsoring all regional contests, you may request some financial support for your team by writing to your national IBM headquarters. Another source of financial support might be the ACM Chapter of your country or your university. (These are tips; we cannot guarantee that any of these institutions are able or willing to support your team.)

Teams are required to check-in at the registration desk (office hours will be announced). You cannot participate if you have not checked in, so make sure you arrive at the desk in time.


We have room for 40 teams. Team places will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis with the additional constraint that third teams are only accepted after all requests for second teams have been satisfied. If you want to participate, we need to receive your completely filled in application form no later than November 1, 2000. Two weeks after the deadline, we will send out the confirmation of registration (or rejections, if necessary).

In case you are going to have a local contest at your university later than the application deadline, you can submit a "blank" application form, i.e. an application without the names of the team members (but everything else should be filled in). This application must also reach us by November 1, the actual team member names must be provided by no later than November 3.

Further Information - How to Contact Us

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you should need more information. We strongly recommend you to consult our web site regularly to get the latest news and the most up-to-date information. We are looking forward to receiving many team applications!

Yours sincerely

The Mid Central European Regional Programming Contest Steering Committee:

Christian Wetzel, Regional Contest Director (wetzel@informatik.uni-freiburg.de)

Other European Sites:

If you have further questions on the divisional level or if you want to participate in an other than your assigned site, please consult the European divisional page to find the addresses of all other European sites.


Christian Wetzel
Last updated: July 26, 2000

Last modification time: 2000-11-22 00:04:22