* Think! *
** ICPC ** heigth=89 width=566    













A programming contest is an event that is related to computer science as one would suspect. If you are wondering what a programming contest is, you've come to the right place - there is an introduction to this interesting event right here.


The recipe for a programming contest is quite simple, it has a only a few ingredients :

  1. 50 to 60 Teams
  2. One problem set of 6 to 8 Problems
  3. 50 to 60 Computers
  4. One Jury
  5. Lunches, dinners, lecture's and drinks according to taste.

Each team must have three members. Each member must be a student from a university in the designated area for your contest. In case of a North Western European Regional Contest, that would be from Belgium, some parts of Germany (Hessen, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein), Luxembourg, Great Brittain, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland or The Netherlands.

The problem set must contain 6 to 8 juicy problems. For a good description and further background information, have a look at the problems page. Each problems must be solvable, but it must be hard to solve.

There must be enough computers so that each team has exactly one at its disposal, no more, no less. Each computer must be equipped with tools to create computer programs so that the teams can write programs that solve the problems.
Also, there must be communications software available to the teams to communicate with the jury and to send their programs to the jury if they desire to do so.

The jury is a little group of people with a large responsibility. They must guard the fairness of the contest, make sure all rules are followed by both contestant and contest organisation and even decide who wins the contest.
A good jury member is hard to obtain, one should make sure that each member is a fully qualified programmer, capable of creating problems for the problem set and their solutions and is able to communicate with dignity and clarity. It is hard to find a good jury member, usually computer science teachers and the venerable and noble students from the local university are chosen for this task. Some people from outside the University will take place in the jury as well.

*Pic of the jury*
The jury

The other odds and ends such as lectures, tours, dinners and lunches are not a real part of the contest itself, but they are all included in the event to add a little spice and fun and must therefore be added according to taste.


If all ingredients are ready, it is time to start cooking!
First of all, each team get its own computer to work with and a closed envelope with the problem set. When the contest is started, the teams may open the envelopes. A contest lasts five hours, and the team that solves the most problems in the least amount of time wins!

The teams may take notes and books to the contest to consult. They may not use internet or communicate with anyone outside their team or the jury.
The teams must write programs that solve the problems in the problem set as fast as possible. If a team solves a problem, a lovely assistant will bring a balloon as a reward, which is tied to the computer. This way, the other teams can keep track of the progress of other teams. Besides that, there is a web page with the current ranks and scores.

*Lovely assistant brings balloon*
Lovely assistant brings balloon to scoring team

One hour before the end of the contest, the web page with ranks and scores will no longer be updated and no new balloons are brought to the teams. This makes it impossible to see how other contestant are doing which tends to rise tension in the teams.

After five hours, the contest is done. Take all teams from the computer rooms and place them is a separate room to cool off. In the mean time, the jury can determine the winner. If the jury and all contestants are ready, the jury will announce the winners and present a short and easy solution to all the problems. In the name of the jury a lovely assistant will hand out prizes (see photograph).

*Lovely Assistant in action*
Lovely assistant hands out prize

After all this trouble you've got one hot, steamy, well-done Programming Contest!
It is customary that a North Western European Regional Contest last the entire weekend. The other days are filled with testing sessions, and whatever the organisation has planned.






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