amsen's blog

By amsen, history, 2 weeks ago, In English

Hi all!

I'm one of the 2020 (better to say 2021) wf participants, according to this link there are two major differences between the upcoming WF and previous WFs:

  • Each team member will be provided with a computer.
  • The competition is scheduled to last four hours.

Obviously the first rule results in the second rule because when teams can write codes on three computers they are faster and so time should be reduced.

But the reason mentioned in the link for the first rule is " Individual computers are provided for health safety purposes. " which looks kinda meaningless.

The reason I say that, is that all team members which participate WF on-site are fully vaccinated, multiple times PCR tested people, and if they're infected by COVID, they will spread the virus between themselves in the hotel room they have to share or all the other places they are in touch together.

The only logical reason for the first rule (in my opinion) is that it tries to synchronize two scoreboards ( ICPC World Finals Championship & ICPC World Finals Invitational which are defined in the link) which doesn't look like a fair trade off to me. And it is good to mention that it won't be a satisfying experience for two years awaiting participants if three team members are separated from each other meanwhile they have three computers. It isn't much different from online participation which was available a year ago.

Which one do you choose? to change ACM ICPC WF procedure for separation of three fully vaccinated, PCR tested people for health safety reasons or to experience a normal WF after two years of waiting?

 
 
 
 
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2 weeks ago, # |
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You're probably right that the reason is to synchronize the formats of the 2 contests; I think it's not necessarily unreasonable, because you can't really run a 1-computer 5-hour contest with the same problemset as a 3-computer 4-hour contest (the latter needs to be, at the very least, much longer). At the same time, I do see the point that if they're splitting the contests amyways, it would be nice for the onsite to use normal ICPC rules. I'm not sure how I would lean, maybe different formats would be better.

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    No offense to anyone, but if you prohibit online competitors to receive medals and a title, for me personally it means that you should treat them as the minority (which you do when setting such rule), that shouldn't affect the majority. In any competition, championship comes first, right?

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      I think that's a little strong; online competitors can receive medals and a title (albeit only titles like "High Honors", with cutoffs kind of like IOI), and it still is an official ICPC event. It's more than just a mirror, it sounds like teams will still be proctored and whatnot. I do see the argument though.

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Maybe I'm just confused about what is written in the rules, but isn't the online contest fully separate, I mean on a different date and thus surely with a different problem set and separate scoreboard?

    If so, can any of you see an argument for using three computer for the onsite contest?

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      Oh you're right. Then it doesn't seem to make much sense.

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      I've heard rumors that the three-computer rule is because some participating universities do not allow their students to sit more than one person at a computer.

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        2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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        For what reason does those schools set up this rule? COVID?

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2 weeks ago, # |
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I still hope that the contest will follow the traditional rules..

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2 weeks ago, # |
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Who cares about participants?

Beautiful pictures from the contest floor is what matters. And an opportunity for the organisers to praise themself on how professionally and successfully they treated the challenge of COVID-19.

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2 weeks ago, # |
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Why are people so passionate about the contest format? Yes, the rules are inconsistent with logic. But does it really change the competition that much if the contest is slightly shorter and you get some more computer time? It sucks for teams with 'designated coding experts', but how many of those are there really?

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I don't think you need a "designated coding expert" in your team for this change to be relevant. It is not just "some more computer time", it voids the whole optimising coding / debugging time aspect of the original format. Teamwork and coordination become much less relevant, and the optimal strategy seems (to me at least) to form a team by simply choosing the three strongest competitors. This might have been the case for some teams before, but probably not for all of them.

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I think it changes the contest quite a bit, even for multiple-coder teams.

    In a standard ICPC round, you're coding for 1/3-1/2 of the time (maybe 2/3 if it's very imbalanced); you can spend the rest of the time thinking about problems and preparing your implementations, which is a pretty important factor. Your goal is to optimize keyboard time, which means as much prep on paper as possible, making on-keyboard implementation much cleaner. You also can debug off the keyboard without losing total time (only penalty for the 1 problem), which is an important strategic decision.

    In a 3-computer round, the optimization is pretty much the opposite. In order to not fall behind, all 3 of you need to be typing for 80%+ of the time, and you all have to debug immediately or lose total time. You get less prep time, so there's way more on-the-fly implementing, which means your code is often much more mental effort to write. Also, it becomes much better to just work on implementation-heavy problems rather than to collaborate to solve a hard math problem, because it takes fewer man-hours. This format is way more exhausting and is almost more of a stamina contest than problem solving (try soloing an ICPC regional or something if you want to see).

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      To be fair, it's also closer to the length of a CF Global Round now than it is to an ICPC Regional, so I'm not that concerned about stamina personally. (Also, I feel like I'm kind of the opposite: I can't do math for more than like 2 hours, but with long variable names, I can do implementation-y problems all day long)

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Yes, it does change the competition that much. In my opinion the "new rules" are much closer to individual competition rather than the classical ICPC. Sure, some teams already competed in ICPC as in three individual contests (for example the current champions) and one can say that three computers probably won't have a huge impact on such teams. But I think such teams are a minority. I would expect most teams to have an uneven composition, i.e. some participants being better or worse at problem solving / implementation / math and so on. And many different "uneven compositions" can work out pretty well in the one computer setting, while clearly falling behind in the three computer setting.

    One more reason why the contest format matters that much is that some teams were created taking into account the one computer rule. Meaning you have already made some decisions based on this rule back when registering the team. So the change of the rules now doesn't just mean that we will have to adjust our strategy, but also means that some choices that are already made and are already final potentially become suboptimal.

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I'm sorry, but this change in rules completely changes the competition. It's like comparing long jump and triple jump: both require jumping in horizontal direction, and parts of the required technique are similar, but if you instantly switch the event, results will be low and random.

    I think most of ICPC finalists have put some significant efforts (years of training) to prepare specifically for this format and for this competition, and the rules change is a disastrous disrespect from the management.

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2 weeks ago, # |
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Yeah, it sucks. And I genuinely think that they don't care about participants or competition or anything. For them, it's about the festival and sponsors.

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2 weeks ago, # |
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Funny fact: WF 2013 in St. Petersburg ended with a circus and WF 2020-2021 in Moscow is starting with a circus.

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    What happened in 2013 ?

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      What do you think was scheduled just after the contest and the closing ceremony? Lunch is wrong answer.

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        2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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        I looked the schedule up, and don't see anything unusual?

        https://icpc.global/community/history/2013Brochure.pdf

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          2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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          They really tried to surprise everyone. And they succeed.

          "Celebration and dinner" was in fact

          Spoiler
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            2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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            Wow.

            Questionable joke: highly upvoted

            Answer the question with a dry fact: downvoted, comment is hidden

            Exactly how current community works.

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2 weeks ago, # |
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Why is it mandatory the assistance to all other events while changing the actual competition rules "because of COVID-19"?

In the context of an international travel involving flights, shared hotel rooms and assistance to sponsorship events where you potentially interact with a lot more people, it seems the actual competition is the last place where you may get infected

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
    Rev. 3   Vote: I like it +60 Vote: I do not like it

    For what it's worth, usually, events are mandatory because otherwise sponsors wouldn't sponsor ICPC; their whole goal is to talk to students and ideally recruit them, so they need students to show up. It's sometimes annoying, but they are paying for your contest.

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      I think the point isn't that they shouldn't be mandatory, but that there is a double standard for safety which makes the rule change unjustified.

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2 weeks ago, # |
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I think that the full remote can be solve some of this problem and also more fair to all person. If we do not need to move between country, I think the restriction to protect us may be relaxed.

There are also some person they have experience about the holding the regional ICPC. Familiar with the rules. And not same as regional ICPC, there are not much more in the same regional to join WF. So some of the problem when hold the regional ICPC online will not happen.

The only concern is about the time zone.

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2 weeks ago, # |
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Which one do you choose? — when did contestants ever have something to say about these issues?

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2 weeks ago, # |
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ICPC wants you all to touch the dog sculpture for good luck. Just remember not to use the same keyboard as your teammates!

Several of the sculptures are widely believed to bring good luck to those who rub them. The practice is targeted at specific areas on individual sculptures, including the soldier's pistol, the patrolman's dog nose, and the female student's shoe.

https://www.facebook.com/ICPCNews/posts/4497398823633081

Clowns.

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2 weeks ago, # |
Rev. 2   Vote: I like it +55 Vote: I do not like it

To be consistent with rules, the host must provide single rooms for every participant, not the usual N-per room (N>1), that would cost host quite a lot of money. Also I'm not sure if 6-days isolation is good for our health (especially during a pandemic) and team-morale/team-work skills. And excursion is virtual tour from your room right? And all meals are also contact-less to your room. I mean if at most important part of whole event participants should be separated, that means that other activities should have even stricter rules o_O.

Why they can't solve concerns raised by teams in individual cases, if for some reason team require to be physically separated at all the times (Do we even have one such team? five teams?), it is possible to use 3-PC mirrored to emulate 1 physical PC as was mentioned in https://codeforces.com/blog/entry/93986?#comment-836014 comment. Or just 1 PC with 3 monitors (mirrored) and 3 keyboards/mouse pairs with ONE physical USB port, so middle-contestant would have to re-plug it every time, but it would take roughly same time as usual person A stand up from chair, person B sits).

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2 weeks ago, # |
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While all you say is true, please be advised that ICPC must (probably) take into account the publicity of the whole event. The hotel rooms, planes etc. are not filmed, but the contest floor is. I guess no one, either in Moscow or in Texas, wants to bear the responsibility for three people sitting at one computer with full camera coverage.

(Also, there is probably a multitude of health and state inspectors that have to agree on the event...and the health inspectors do not care about fair competition. No, really.)

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Isn't it still possible to have three team members use three different keyboards but they're still restricted to one person coding at a time?

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      Well, I have no idea. I'm not from Russia nor America, but I doubt that state officials anywhere would allow creativity in this matter.

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    2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I doubt health inspectors in Russia care about anything

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      2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      They care about a lot of random formal stuff, which is not correlated with how useful it is. So I wouldn't be so sure.

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        2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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        I believe they do, but only if they have some (I think mostly informal) orders regarding their policies. So, what I meant is that they don't care in their natural environment, and sometimes it's not what is usually understood as a word ‘care’, and sometimes a matter of some informal agreements

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        2 weeks ago, # ^ |
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        We all remember that Neerc of 2021 had no issues with conducting a normal contest.

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10 days ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +92 Vote: I do not like it

Don't know when, but they have changed it, now it says: The competition is scheduled to last five hours.

They claim - Updated 8 September 2021.