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UAkron Spring 2011 Programming Practices Begin

The UAkron Programming Team had its first practice of the new year last night. I’m very excited for this semester — we have a number of first year competitors who are learning the ropes and a solid group of veterans who all seem energetic about the process. We’ve expanded our practices to 6-10 PM on Friday evenings (compared to the previous schedule of 7-10PM). This will give us more time to actually discuss techniques and algorithms rather than just chugging away on problems (which, don’t get me wrong, has tons of value).

There will hopefully be three main events for the team this spring: The Denison Spring Programming Contest, Ohio Wesleyan University Programming Contest, and hopefully the 2nd Annual UAkron Programming Contest (internal only as of now).

One of my personal goals is to write 5 or 6 new problems this semester and slip them in with the weekly practice problem sets.

For the first practice, I had taken the last 6 years of contest problems from the Denison Spring Programming Contest and organized them by difficulty level (as determined by percentage of teams that correctly solved them) and algorithm category (2D Array Manipulation, Graph Traversal, Dynamic Programming, etc.). The results were somewhat interesting. I’ll post my findings once I have a chance to better define the algorithm groups (currently Generating Permutations and Generating Subsets are distinct groups, but should probably be aggregated up into a Combinatorics group). Based on the most frequently occurring problem types, we spent the practice focusing on string manipulation & 2D array manipulation, and introducing graph problems. Next week we will talk about a few basic approaches to graph problems (sticking to simple BFS/DFS) and then tackle some related problems. I’ll also be posting the prep materials I create in the hopes that it is of use to someone.

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