14 Feb 2010
During the 1st to the 5th of February 2010 the World Finals of the ACM ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest) took place. I participated as contestant representing Unicamp, Brazil, with Davi and Marcelo, and our coach was Alberto.
Technically, the contest only takes place on the 5th, while on other days we have leisure activities and simulations/warm-up.
In past competitions, the trip was financed by the SBC (Sociedade Brasileira de Computação), but this year the organization decided to use the sponsor the training camp during the month of January, at USP. Given that, we had to raise funding ourselves.
Initially, our coach Alberto asked Instituto de Computação (IC) for money, but it didn’t have a budget. He then went after Unicamp’s dean, which could only pay for half of the tickets. In the end Alberto gave up on going to the finals, IC used a postgraduate budget to pay for my ticket and the other two were bought by the dean’s funding.
We were initially given tickets departing São Paulo on January 28th, arriving in Harbin on the 30th, but after negotiating with the travel agency, we were able to change the itinerary to arrive in Beijing on the 30th and only go to Harbin on the 1st of February. Since we were already going to be staying in Harbin for 5 days, we found it more interesting to spend the extra time in Beijing.
We traveled to China during one of the coldest months of the year. The city of Beijing is very reminiscent of São Paulo with its skyscrapers, but I got the impression that Beijing is much cleaner. Unfortunately, due to lack of organization and knowledge, we were only able to visit the Forbidden City during the three days of our stay.
On February 1st we arrived at the Harbin airport, where we were welcomed by a group of ICPC volunteers. The bus that would take us to the hotel took a long time to leave, which caused us to arrive at the last minute, being the last ones to check in and register our team for the competition.
On February 2nd we went to a snow sculpture exhibition park on Sun Island. There was a lot of cool (and giant!) sculptures. We ended up discovering that snow was made artificially.
On the morning of the 3rd, we had a warm-up and familiarization with the programming environment. We had lunch in the university cafeteria with rice, boiled cabbage, pork and some nuggets. Everything was very spicy (except the rice) which was good to ward off the cold!
In the afternoon we did a hands-on activity: making a snow sculpture ourselves. Each team had to make a letter to form the phrase “ACM ICPC WORLD FINALS 2010 HARBIN ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY”. We were responsible for the letter ‘B’, together with the University of Cantebury, New Zealand. In the evening we went to the long-awaited park with lit ice sculptures.
On the morning of February 4th we did a simulation of the contest, because this year the competition was broadcast by a TV station in China and they needed to rehearse everything properly. In the afternoon there was a recreational work organized by IBM, which was a competition to assemble toys and solve sudokus :P Then there was a lecture by IBM to talk about its new technologies.
Finally, on February 5th, we had the real competition. I won’t go into details about the problems here, but I must say that our team strategy, trained several times over the past year, worked relatively well (in the Brazilian finals it was not as good) and we managed to finish third among Brazilian teams (in the Brazilian final we were in sixth).
We managed to pass 4 problems and appear on the scoreboard (those who did less than 4 only appeared in the honorable mention). UFPE (Pernambuco) was the South American champion and the world champion was Shanghai Jiatong. Fun fact: Among all the 13 medalists, there are only teams from Asia and Europe, 10 of which are from China or Russia.
To end the competition, we went to a traditional restaurant (I only managed to eat the fruit for dessert :X) where Chinese dance and acrobatics were performed.
This is a review and translation done in 2021 of my original post in Portuguese: ACM ICPC World Finals 2010