ACM-ICPC World Finals 2014. Part I.
This year our team from Nazarbayev University worked hard and got lucky enough to qualify for ACM-ICPC World Finals. It is the sixth time when teams from Kazakhstan advance to this event, starting from 2007, but there is not much information about this available to the public. In this blog post I want to fix this a bit and share my experience as a World Finals 2014 contestant.
Let me start from the beginning and briefly explain what is ACM-ICPC.
ACM-ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest by Association for Computing Machinery) sponsored by IBM is an annual international programming competition for college students with a rich history starting from 1977, when the first competition occurred. It is widely considered as the most prestigious and important programming competition for students with participants literally from all over the world.
Contestants compete in the teams of 3, trying to solve as much programming problems as possible in 5 hours. This year 10681 teams from 2286 universities worldwide took part in qualification rounds, with best 122 teams advancing to the final round, which was held in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The list of World Finals participants is available here, with such major universities in it as MIT, Stanford, top Russian universities like St. Petersburg State University and Moscow State University, and many more (worth mentioning that only one team from the university can take part in the final round).
Our team. From left to right: Adilet Zhaxybay, Nurlan Kanapin, Sergey Makagonov (coach) and Anuar Dikhanov.
One of the best benefits from advancing to ACM-ICPC World Finals is an opportunity to visit some new interesting place. Geography of cities that hosted World Finals in the past includes Tokyo, Shanghai, Orlando, Stockholm and many other cool places.
But this year, in terms of the new city to visit, was not very lucky for us, since the competition took part in Ekaterinburg, Russia (or Yekaterinburg, I have seen both versions in active use). We all have been to Russia before and we didn't even need to leave our time zone! I hope that at least other teams found it somehow new and exotic.
However, the city itself left a positive impression.
Top view of Ekaterinburg from its tallest building, Vysotsky skyscraper (~190 m).
In Ekaterinburg we stayed in Atrium Palace Hotel, which was kindly provided by organizers. It turned out to be a very comfortable five-star hotel with everything excellent, except the internet (the connection was very weak on the upper floors).
Atrium Palace Hotel lobby.
Anyway, we didn't plan to stay in hotel much. We arrived to Ekaterinburg two days before the first official event and had plenty of time to see the city.
One of the best ways to get acquainted with Ekaterinburg is a popular tourist route called Red Line. The name of the route is not just a good metaphor, as I thought myself at first. There is literally a red line right on the ground in the center of the city, which forms a loop and passes near many interesting places to visit! In my opinion, it is a really great idea for the cities with a lot of interesting places concentrated in relatively small area (of course as long as the line itself doesn't cross or damage some really historical objects).
Red line near the Beatles monument. The color of the line varies from soft pink to bright red along the route.
The walk on the line takes two-three hours and allows to see Ekaterinburg from different points of view.
There are many old buildings neighboring modern skyscrapers.
There are many churches of all forms and sizes. I haven't seen so many and so close to each other even in Moscow.
Viktor Tsoi and communists are still alive in this city.
But the best part of Ekaterinburg is its ponds, rivers and green parks, which are located even in the very center of the city. There are many pleasant places to walk and they leave impression of Ekaterinburg as a very green and close-to-the-nature city.
Do you see the giant keyboard monument on the last photo?
Being the fourth-largest city by population in Russia, Ekaterinburg is very active and modern. One interesting thing to notice here is a big number of people of all ages and social positions using variety of personal vehicles, starting from all kinds of bicycles and rolling skates and ending with skateboards and kick scooters. And what's interesting is that majority of these people use them not just for entertainment, but with a real purpose to get from point A to point B.
The city is ready for ACM-ICPC World Finals.
Continue reading: ACM-ICPC World Finals 2014. Part II.
30 June 2014