Designing Your Contest#

Defining the Contest Rules#

All regional contest rules must conform to the requirements listed in About the Regional Contest on the ICPC Web Site. Additional regional rules should be published on the local web site and must incorporate and not contradict those general rules which specify such matters as the team composition, conduct of the contest, scoring of the contest, and contest languages.

Additional regional rules may include the number of divisions for competition, information about sites, the type of contest (e.g. bring-your-own-computer), contest duration, the problem set size, system platform and programming environments for each regional site, contest duration, judging criteria, and flow of information at the contest are defined.

All region specific rules must be reviewed by your Super Regional Director or the Director of Regional Contests.

Differences in regional contests#

There are four major characteristics that determine the type of a regional contest:

  • the number of contest sites
  • the source of the contest systems
  • the programming environment, and
  • the contest awards structure.

The Director, in consultation with the Steering Committee, must make these fundamental decisions at the outset of contest planning.

The first decision concerns the number of contest sites.

  • A centralized, or single-site, contest is conducted at a single site. All participating teams must travel to and compete at the host site.
  • A distributed, or multi-site, contest is conducted at multiple sites simultaneously.
  • A tiered contest has multiple preliminary contests feeding a regional finals.

In all cases registration is managed by a single registrar at a single contest headquarters location. In a distributed contest, teams may compete at any satellite contest site, within size constraints. ACM regional contests have been successful in both centralized, distributed, and tiered formats. The basic contest procedures outlined in this document apply to all types of contests.

The second decision addresses the source of the contest systems and the programming environment. The two most popular approaches are the site-supplied contest and the bring-your-own contest. In a site-supplied contest, the contest sites must furnish the computing equipment and the programming environment. Such contests often stage a practice session to ensure that the teams are familiar with the contest system before the contest begins.

In a bring-your-own contest, each team supplies its own contest hardware and software. The bring-your-own format requires the director to specify the range of allowable system configurations and necessitates that each system be certified by the contest staff on site prior to the start of the contest. In general, site-supplied contests have a networked environment, and bring-your-own contests do not network the computers used by the contest teams.

Distributed contests are not required to have the same computing environment at each site. Judging can be done on-site or at a central site. Clarifications about the problem set should be centralized, even if judging is local. The judging area must be equipped with each kind of system available to the contestants they serve.

Finally, the contest awards structure must be determined. This involves specifying the number of scoring divisions, the number of places to be awarded in each division, and the nature of the awards. Some regional contests prefer a single scoring division for all teams; other regional contests offer multiple scoring divisions, often including a division which is only open to teams composed solely of undergraduate students. Directors should consult any existing sponsorship agreement to determine the number and type of awards furnished by the contest sponsor. (Obtaining this information, and the awards furnished by the sponsor, can be done through the ICPC Manager.) The Steering Committee may also wish to present supplementary awards recognizing additional top-place finishers or other outstanding performance by a team in the regional contest. The Regional Contest Rules should clearly define the criteria for the placing of teams, which will be used to determine advancement to the Contest Finals. Every effort should be made to ensure that the awards structure ultimately promotes the regional contest as a competition in its own right, however, as well as being the gateway to the World Finals.

All of these decisions will be affected by a number of factors. Prior and anticipated levels of participation, average travel distances within the contest region, contest region preferences, and tradition should be carefully taken into consideration before making these three decisions. Note that these decisions are for all practical purposes, however, independent of each other—a regional contest may elect to use any combination of the three. One regional contest might choose a centralized, bring-your-own contest with a single scoring division, while another regional contest might find a distributed, site-supplied contest with two scoring divisions to be more appropriate. The World Finals is a centralized, site-supplied, networked contest with a single scoring division.

Contest Site Selections#

The contest sites should be determined as early as possible during contest planning by the Regional Contest Steering Committee. In some regions, a single-site contest designates a new site every one or two years, with the Regional Contest Director usually being affiliated with that particular site. Distributed contests typically issue a call for satellite contest sites in which geographically clustered schools coordinate their volunteering effort. It is vitally important to decide upon the contest sites as soon as possible so that the Regional Contest Local Arrangements Coordinator, System manager, and, where appropriate, the Satellite Site Coordinators, can be appointed and allowed to begin site preparation activities.

Note that the Regional Contest Steering Committee operates independently of the contest sites— there is no requirement that the Regional Contest Director or a member of the Regional Contest Steering Committee must be faculty members at a hosting institution or residents of a host city. Similarly, there is no automatic expectation that the Regional Contest Director's institution or that of another member of the Regional Steering Committee will host the contest. Practical considerations, however, often necessitate some parallelism between the host sites and the composition of the Regional Contest Steering Committee.

Developing the Contest Schedules#

There are several contest schedules that must be maintained by the Regional Contest Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee must prepare a preliminary schedule detailing the times and locations of all contest and contest-related events involving the contestants for posting on the regional contest web page. This schedule should include the times and locations for team registration, system certification (for a bring-your-own contest), a contest practice session/ contestants meeting, team check-in at the contest site, the start of the contest, the end of the contest, a contest awards banquet (or other social activities), and the awards ceremony announcing the winners. Any changes in the preliminary schedule should be reflected in a final schedule of events that should be provided to the teams no later than their registration time on the day of the contest.

The Chief Judge should devise a schedule geared specifically toward development of the contest problem set, problem solutions, and test data. The Local Arrangement Coordinator or the Site Directors should develop detailed schedules for preparing the contest sites. Finally, the Regional Contest Director should maintain a master schedule synthesizing all contest activities and project milestones to facilitate coordination of the contest effort.

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