Just participated in a TopCoder Single Round Match! Got my first rating – 989. Should have been higher but was feeling the arena around the first time. It was a very different experience to normal programming contests. Let me lay it out for non- top-coders:
You are given three problems – an easy(200/250 points), medium (500/550 pts) and hard(1000 pts) to solve in one hour and fifteen minutes. This is known as the coding phase. During this time, once you hit upon an solution, when you submit it, your will not get feedback on whether it is true or false.
- To make it more competetive, there is one more feature – the problems are not visible to you at the start and u have to open a problem to see it. The value of the problem (points) start decreasing with the amount of time u have the problem. So if u submit fast, u will get somewhere near the original score of the problem, otherwise something far far less.
- After the coding phase is over, there comes the challenge phase – where you can read other members code. If u find a mistake in their code, u can expose it by testing it with one input set of your choice. If the code gives the correct output for that input, you lose 25 points. Otherwise you gain 50 points.
- Then comes the System Tests. This is the part when the system feeds the judges input to your program and analyses the output. If your program gives the wrong output,you lose all points you gained for that problem.
Competetive isn`t it? 🙂 Whats ACM compared to this?