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ACM-ICPC World Finals 2015. Part II.

This is the second blog post about Nazarbayev University team on ACM-ICPC World Finals 2015. First part is available here.

Starting from May 18th, our days were full with different scheduled activities. The first one was IBM TechTrek. IBM is the main sponsor of the competition for many years, and in this event they traditionally show different cool technologies that are being developed in the company. However, the most memorable thing from TechTrek in 2015 is that it was held in a very beautiful tent.

IBM TechTrek

Later, the lunch was served in the same place. It is always fun to share the meal with people from more than 30 different countries, enjoy their company and get to know each other.

Lunch in the tent

One of the perks of attending the World Finals is virtually unlimited food and drinks all the time (unfortunately, an endless supply of free cold drinks, probably in a combination with a different climate, left me with a sore throat till the very end of the trip).

Lunch in the tent 2

The day continued with the opening ceremony, which was full of greetings, speeches and artistic performances.


Finally, for a dinner we were taken to a huge restaurant ouside of the city called Chaz Ali.

Chez Ali entrance

Entrance to Chez Ali restaurant

The restaurant was in a traditional Moroccan style, and ther even was a hippodrome inside.

Chez Ali restaurant

Apart from the dinner itself, here you could enjoy performances of local singers and dancers, watch the show of horse riders or ride a camel.


Or you could just wander around and meet some interesting people.

With Gennady Korotkevich

With Gennady Korotkevich, one of the top competitive programmers in the world

ICPC Quest

One of the funniest thing to do on World Finals 2015 was ICPC Quest, an informal competition that organizers run every year along with the main competition. To participate, you have to complete some small funny tasks, like take a photo with somebody from another continent, find a particular place by picture or make a splash in a hotel pool. Then you have to upload photos or videos of you performing the task to Twitter with particular hashtags, so that organizers can find you.

For some reason I didn't participate in the quest in 2014 in Ekaterinburg, but in Morocco I decided to seriously take part in it. Completing the tasks was quite interesting, and allowed me to meet new people or discover places I would miss otherwise. You may want to check my Twitter account, which I usually don't use, to find a lot of funny and informal photos taken during the quest.

In the end, I finished 4th among all competitors in the quest, and recieved for it some souvenirs and other stuff from the organizers. If you ever will be attending World Finals, consider participating in the quest – it's fun!

ICPC Quest

My teammates trying to do ICPC sign with their bodies for one of the quest tasks #questFlexibility #ICPC2015

Contest days

May 19th was the day of practice contest, which is run to check that all equipment is ready for the main competition. This contest is 2.5 hours long, consists of some well-known old problems and doesn't contribute to the final results. After the contest most of the participants, including our team, did nothing and just relaxed before the main competition the next day.

By tradition, before the contest all participants touched the main trophy of the competition and took a photo with Bill Poucher, executive director of ICPC.

Bill and trophy

Day X, also known as the day of the main contest of ACM ICPC World Finals 2015, was May 20th.

Contest floor

Contest floor of ICPC 2015. As usually, balloons are delivered for every solved problem. Photo by ICPCNews

This year the problemset consisted of 13 problems, and what is more important, most of them were solvable. As a result, to get a medal you had to solve a lot of problems – at least nine, compared to just four in 2014 – and solve them fast.

Nazarbayev University team

Our team at our workstation, photo from the practice contest

As for our team, we had a steady rate during the whole contest, and solved approximately one problem every hour. The tasks were not that hard, and we didn't have much bugs or other problems in the process, except for one epic case, when we used 3/4 instead of 4/3 in the formula of a sphere volume and spend half an hour looking for some 'mysterious bug'.

Nazarbayev University team


During the whole contest we had some code to write and some problems that were 'almost solved'. However, in this particular contest our most common tactics, which is to solve problems together and to help each other much, didn't really fit, because there turned out to be a lot of easy problems. As a result, we were too slow and didn't gain the right momentum from the very beginning.

In the end: 5 solved problems and 67th absolute place (or 64th if count like here) out of 128 participating teams. At least we managed to outperform Stanford, Princeton and Cornell among some other universities :)

Nazarbayev University team

Photo from our webcam. Looking for a bug in problem I.

Closing ceremony and results.

Later the same day, it was a time to reveal the results of a competition and announce the winners. By rules of the ACM ICPC, the scoreboard of the first four hours is available for everybody in real time, but the results of the last fifth hour are revealed only at the closing ceremony.

For us, it was very pleasing to see MIT team win the bronze medals. One of the members of this team is Ali-Amir Aldan, and he is the first ever participant from Kazakhstan, our home country, to take the medal at ACM ICPC World Finals. Good job, Ali-Amir!

MIT Team

MIT team

The absolute winner of the competition was the team from St. Petersburg National Research University of IT, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO University for short), with Gennady Korotkevich as one of the team members. While their victory was not unexpected, the way they did it was truly incredible – they managed to solve all 13 problems, the first perfect result in more than 30 year history of the competition! Congratulations to them and all other medalists! Full results of the competition are available here.


ITMO team


Everything finished with a big open air dinner with some more artistic performances.

Snake around my teammate

Somebody tries to put a snake around my teammate's neck. Well, at least the main contest is already finished :)

The next day we left Morocco, had a long stop in Istanbul, and finally reached our home in Kazakhstan.


Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

We had a great time on the ACM ICPC World Finals in Morocco – thanks to all organizers and volunteers who made it happen! And thank you for reading all this! As always, your comments are more than welcome.

02 May 2016


Max   02 May 2016, at 17:16

Amazing trip! Congratulations!

Luke   04 May 2016, at 08:52


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