International Programming Contest at Amrita
December 4, 2008
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
The world’s largest collegiate programming contest, the ACM – ICPC 2008/2009 is being held at the Amritapuri Campus of Amrita University on Dec 5th and 6th, 2008. Over 200 college students from universities all over Asia have converged on this scenic south Kerala campus to take part in this contest. Only two sites in India, Amritapuri and IIT Kanpur, host regional semi-finals.
“We are here at Amrita Kerala Campus,” wrote Surendran, B Tech final year student from NIT Trichy on his blog site. “The place is so wonderful and the hospitality so stunning. The food, hostel, everything else is too good. The organizers have also planned for a trip to the local beach house. Three days filled with coding, superb food, fun at the beach and superb people around, what better way could I have started the holidays?”
59 teams of contestants were selected from over 90 teams that participated in an online elimination round held on Nov 2nd. Besides students from the IITs, NITs and other Indian Universities, this year’s international representation includes teams from Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Bangladesh. Last year’s Amritapuri contest saw the National Taiwan University team emerge as the winner, and they, along with teams from IIT Madras and the Chennai Mathematical Institute, were selected from Amritapuri to go to the World Finals in Banff, Canada.
“We hope the questions are challenging,” coach Konstantin Latuta from Kazakhstan said. “Well-prepared teams have an advantage in that case.” When asked about his stay and food, Konstantin said that he felt very comfortable on the campus, but the food was a bit spicy. The students who arrived early spent their time using the gym and swimming pool, or simply wandering around. The Amrita University staff plans to keep the student contestants and their accompanying coaches entertained with a banquet, beach trip, and an early morning meditation class.
The first place in the contest will be awarded to the team that solves the most number of problems in the shortest amount of time, within a maximum allotted time span of five hours. The winning team will get a chance to appear at the IBM Inc. sponsored World Finals in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2009. This year, the Amritapuri contest is sponsored by IBM as well as the software giants Infosys and Cognizant. Technical talks by the sponsors are planned. An excursion to the Eco-Tourist Thenmala resort is also planned on the actual day of the contest.
Amrita University volunteers turned up in large numbers to help. Amrita Vidyalayam students were also roped in for the traditional greeting ceremony with caparisoned elephants to perform the 5-instrument musical ensemble called panchavadyam. “This gives us a good opportunity to interact with students from other places,” Jayakumar, a staff volunteer, said. He felt that the high standards needed to organize such a contest will improve technical knowledge across the campus. Amrita student volunteers received high praise last year from the contestants for their ready helpfulness.
The regional contest director, Dr. Vallath Nandakumar, agrees with Jayakumar. “It is through such national- and international-level activities such as these that we, as educators, connect with the rest of the world, and make this truly a world-class institution,” he remarked.