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The 3rd Annual University of Akron Programming Competition

April 21, 2012 from 12:00 - 5:00pm in CAS 241


Event Details

What: An ACM-style programming contest specifically designed for University of Akron students. Also, pizza and prizes!
Who: All current University of Akron students (undergrads and grad students) are welcome to participate. The problem set will be appropriate for students who are currently taking CS1 while still challenging multi-year programming team veterans. Teams may have up to 3 members.
When: Saturday, April 21, 2012. Introduction begins at 12:00 PM. The contest will run for 4 hours and will be completed by 5:00 PM.
Where: Introduction will take place in CAS 241. Coding will take place in CAS 241 with overflow in CAS 254.

Why you should participate

"Come to learn, come for fun, or come to win." ~Waterloo's Programming Team website

There are plenty of reasons to participate in programming contests. Here are a few:

  • Experience - Programming contests expose you to a wide variety of problems and algorithms in a very short period of time. Spending 4 hours working hard on problems you've never seen before is a great mental exercise.
  • Problem Solving - Some contest problems require careful programming to properly encode the details of the problem statement while others can be solved extremely quickly given the right insight about the problem. Regardless of your skill writing code, your ability to read problems, understand them, and come up with clear solutions will be put to the test. Understanding and really solving the problems is often far more difficult than writing the code.
  • Teamwork - The (up to) 3 people on your team must work together to solve as many problems as possible in 4 hours... using only one computer! You'll need to share that one precious resource as efficiently as possible. You'll also need to find and agree on which problems are easiest (which can be much harder than it sounds).
  • Communication - You may be able to read the problem on your own, understand all the edge cases, code it up and get it correct by yourself... but it's more likely that you'll need to explain the problem and your proposed solution to a teammate so they can help you think of weird input cases and potential bugs in your code. Working with others in this way and explaining your ideas and algorithms in words is a great skill to practice.
  • Competition - Because who doesn't like being better than other people?
  • Social - All the cool programmers will be there.
  • Learn about UAkron's Programming Team - Enjoyed the contest? The Programming Team has 4-hour practices nearly every week during the school year. Feel free to come join us!

Frequently asked questions

What's an "ACM-style programming contest"?
A set of problems, each with a functional specification (in some format), input & output format specifications, and sample input/output. There are some limitations - you have only one computer for your entire team, and your solutions must run within the given time/memory limits. The goal is to solve as many problems as possible during the 4 hour contest!

I'm only in CS1 and barely know how to write a for loop. Will I be bored?
No way! There will be fun, appropriate problems for you!

I've taken every CS course offered at Akron and have been on the Programming Team for 5 years now. Will I be bored?
No way! First, you'll also get to focus on solving easier problems as quickly as humanly possible! And then you'll get to the harder problems and you'll certainly be challenged, I guarantee it!

I'm so awesome that I think I can win this entire thing by myself. Do I need to have a team?
We highly encourage you to have a team of at least two people, but the only strict rule is "at most three." These contests are partly about implementing solutions to problems quickly, but they also exercise your teamwork and communication skills.

Past Problem Sets

Here are the problem sets from the last two years. These give a good idea of the structure of the problems but NOT the difficulty. The difficulty has historically been too high, and this year we are working hard to make the problem set much more accessible to students of all levels.


For now, see the resource list here.

Contest structure (more details)

  • Teams may consist of up to 3 members.
  • There will be 8 problems to be solved over 4 hours.
  • The allowed programming languages are C, C++, and Java.
  • All problems are to be solved with console applications. Data is read from Standard Input and output is sent to Standard Output. Do not prompt for input values in the code you submit to be judged. Do not attempt to read from or write to any files.
  • Each problem statement will include sample input and output. When you submit your solution, the judges will compile and run it on a larger, more comprehensive set of input.
  • Non-standard libraries cannot be used in your solutions. The Standard Template Library (STL) and C++ string libraries are allowed. The standard Java API is available, except for those packages that are deemed dangerous by contest officials (e.g., that might generate a security violation).
  • The input to all problems will consist of multiple test cases unless otherwise noted. The input listed on the problem description is not intended to be a comprehensive input set. The input is guaranteed to adhere to the descriptions in each problem; you do not need to check for invalid input.
  • You may use any written notes, books, or reference materials you bring with you.
  • Programming style is not considered in this contest. You can code in any style or with any level of documentation your team prefers.