1 Title : Guidelines for ioi competitions 2 Author : ioi scientific Committee

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1 Title : Guidelines for IOI Competitions

2 Author : IOI Scientific Committee

3 Editor : Tom Verhoeff (Chair of IOI SC)

4 Status : Draft for further review, and for use by IOI2000 SC

5 Date : January/February 2000

6 Version: 0.3

7 History: Incorporated suggestions by reviewers of version 0.2



10 -----

11 The application of these Guidelines to IOI2000 is an experiment. The

12 IOI2000 organizers have agreed to participate in this experiment.

13 Therefore, these Guidelines currently have the status of recommendations

14 only, even though they are phrased in a more obligatory way. These

15 Guidelines will be applied as much as possible for IOI2000, and deviations

16 will be reported to the IOI SC.


18 Currently, no procedures have been established for approving and

19 changing these Guidelines, and for deciding on the mandatory use of

20 these Guidelines after IOI2000.


22 The following three words are used with a special meaning in these

23 Guidelines:

24 * "must" expresses that something is obligatory, and that deviation

25 is in violation of these Guidelines

26 * "should" expresses that something is strongly recommended, and

27 that a deviation must be reported and explained

28 * "may" expresses that something is optional, and that deviations

29 are acceptable and require no further commenting.


31 Aim

32 ---

33 These Guidelines set a standard for the organization of the COMPETITION

34 at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). Each IOI provides,

35 among other things, a Computer Science competition for talented

36 high-school students, selected through competitive national olympiads.

37 From the first IOI in 1989, the focus of these competitions has been on

38 algorithmic computer programming tasks.


40 Organizing an IOI competition is a big challenge. Using a set of

41 written guidelines and refining these over the years, will help ensure a

42 high-quality competition that can develop and improve continuously.


44 These Guidelines are based on experience gained at past IOI

45 competitions and similar events, and on best practices in Computing

46 Science and Software Engineering.


48 These Guidelines focus on the competition part of the IOI. They do not

49 address such issues as sleeping accommodation, meals, transportation,

50 social events, political issues, etc. The latter are a concern of

51 the International Committee (IC) of the IOI.


53 The intended readership consists of all IOI Scientific Committee (SC)

54 members, all Host SC members, and Host Team managers. Delegation

55 leaders may also find some of the information useful when preparing for

56 an IOI.


58 Also consult the IOI Regulations.


60 List of Abbreviations

61 ---- -- -------------

62 CC Competition Committee

63 CI Configuration Item (see Configuration Management)

64 CM Competition Manager

65 GA General Assembly

66 IC International Committee

67 ICPC International Collegiate Programming Contest (by ACM)

68 IMO International Mathematics Olympiad

69 IOI International Olympiad in Informatics

70 IOIn The particular IOI being organized

71 PGP Pretty Good Privacy (http://www.pgpinternational.com/)

72 SC Scientific Committee


74 Glossary

75 --------

76 CENTRAL COMPETITION DESK: The location where competition-related

77 material, such as Clarification Request Forms and Grading Appeal Forms,

78 are submitted and from there distributed to the appropriate destination.

79 The actual desk location may depend on the activity that is taking place

80 (translation, competition, grading, ...).


82 COMPETITION: Several interpretations will be distinguished:

83 * All the events and activities at IOIn (incl. two Competition Rounds

84 and the awarding of medals) concerning the IOIn Competition. This

85 broadest interpretation is denoted in these Guidelines by "IOIn

86 Competition".

87 * A single Competition Round at IOIn (starting with the presentation

88 of the Competition Tasks to the GA, and ending with the finalization

89 of the results by the GA). This interpretation is denoted in these

90 Guidelines by "Competition Round".

91 * A period of five hours when the competitors work on Competition

92 Tasks. This narrowest interpretation is denoted in these Guidelines

93 by "competition proper", or simply "competition" when confusion is

94 unlikely.


96 COMPETITION DAY: A day at IOIn when a competition proper takes place,

97 that is, when the competitors compete by working on Competition Tasks.


99 COMPETITION MANAGER (CM): The person who is responsible for managing

100 the Competition Committee, in particular, its organizational aspects.

101 In most cases, the chair of the IOIn Host SC will act as IOIn CM.


103 COMPETITION MATERIAL: Several interpretations will be distinguished:

104 * All the information relevant to the IOIn Competition, whether

105 eventually published or not.

106 * All the information concerning the IOIn Competition that will be

107 made publicly available, in particular to the GA prior to a

108 competition proper. This includes background information and

109 grading details about the Competition Tasks, which must not be given

110 to the competitors before the competition proper has ended.

111 * All the information to be given to the competitors at a competition

112 proper. This includes the Competition Tasks, but also such items as

113 a Task Overview, sample files, helper programs, etc.

114 The intended interpretation should be obvious from the context in these

115 Guidelines.


117 COMPETITION OFFICIAL: Any person involved in executing the IOIn

118 Competition, and recognizable as such (special badge, clothing).

119 There are various roles for officials, for example:

120 * patrol the Competition Site during a competition proper

121 * attend to the Central Competition Desk

122 * manage the technical equipment (servers, printers)

123 * deal with issues related to Competition Tasks (answering

124 Clarification Requests, for example)

125 * carry out the grading


127 COMPETITION ROUND: One of the two Competition Rounds that take place at

128 IOIn. The Competition Rounds have the same structure:

129 1. IOIn CC presents Competition Tasks to GA (in a GA Meeting)

130 2. GA translates Competition Tasks

131 3. Competitors work on Competition Tasks for five hours

132 4. IOIn CC grades the work of the competitors and reports to GA

133 5. GA verifies grading results and may file appeals

134 6. IOIn CC formulates responses to appeals

135 7. GA finalizes the results (in a GA Meeting)

136 These activities are typically spread out over several days.


138 Confusingly, a term like "First Competition Day" is sometimes (but not

139 in these Guidelines) used to denote just the First Competition proper

140 and on other occasions to denote the entire First Competition Round.

141 However, the competition proper is only one of several events that may

142 take place on a Competition Day; traditionally, grading in a Competition

143 Round is done on the same day, but (since IOI'96) translation has been

144 done on the preceding day. On the other hand, as noted above, a

145 Competition Round usually spans more that one day.


147 COMPETITION SITE: The location with workplaces at IOIn where each

148 competition proper takes place, that is, where competitors compete by

149 working on the Competition Tasks. The Competition Site includes rooms

150 with support equipment (such as servers, printers, ...).


152 COMPETITION TASK: A task in the IOIn Competition that the competitors

153 have to complete. The work submitted by the competitors for the tasks

154 is graded and the result is used to award medals. Each Competition

155 Round typically involves three independent and self-contained

156 Competition Tasks.


158 GRADING: The process of evaluating the work submitted by the competitors

159 and then awarding points, with the intent to rank the competitors for

160 awarding medals.


162 INPUT VALIDATOR: A program that determines whether a file or set of

163 files is a valid input instance (satisfies the precondition) of a

164 Competition Task. There are some generic aspects to this validation,

165 which apply to all Competition Tasks (e.g. the restriction to lines of

166 characters with ASCII values in the range 32..126). Complete validation

167 however always involves task-specific aspects. Some of the checks are

168 merely syntactic (e.g. "the first line contains three numbers"), others

169 are semantic (bounds on numbers, special relationships between data

170 items). Many (and sometimes all) of these task-specific conditions can

171 be handled by a "scriptable" validator, where the script captures the

172 restrictions to be checked. For some tasks, the input validator is more

173 complex than a solution to the task.


175 IOIn COMPETITION: All the activities and events that take place at IOIn

176 concerning the competition part, including:

177 1. Introduction (1st GA Meeting, practicing, questions about

178 the Competition Rules)

179 2. First Competition Round

180 3. Second Competition Round

181 4. Medal decisions and awarding


183 IOIn COMPETITION COMMITTEE (CC): The group of persons who are organizing

184 an IOIn Competition. The IOIn CC includes persons from the IOI SC and

185 IOIn Host SC, as well as others that have been specifically invited to

186 contribute. Not all persons have to be involved in all phases

187 (preparation, execution, conclusion).


189 LANGUAGE BARRIER: The impossibility of communicating with all IOI

190 competitors using a single natural language. The language barrier needs

191 to be crossed in BOTH directions:

192 * TO the competitors, when presenting the competition material and

193 results;

194 * FROM the competitors, when grading the submitted work.

195 All competition material is prepared in English. The GA members help in

196 crossing the language barrier by acting as translators and interpreters.

197 The language barrier FROM the competitors is partly circumvented by

198 having them submit their work in machine interpretable form.


200 OUTPUT CHECKER: A program that determines whether a file or set of files

201 is correct output for (satisfies the postcondition of) a Competition

202 Task and one input instance (consisting of one or more input files).


204 If the task is deterministic, that is, the input uniquely determines the

205 output, then an output checker can simply compare the file(s) to be

206 checked with the correct output file(s) for the given input instance.

207 It may be necessary to filter files before comparison to eliminate extra

208 spaces and empty lines.


210 In case of nondeterministic tasks, the output checker will be task

211 specific. Many (and sometimes all) of the task-specific conditions can

212 be handled by a "scriptable" checker, where the script captures the

213 output restrictions to checked. Examples of script constructs are

214 * the next item must appear in the following set

215 * the next list of items must be a permutation of the following set

216 For some tasks, a special-purpose checker may be needed.


218 Overview

219 --------

220 First, the general format of the IOI Competition is described. Next, a

221 number of organizational topics are addressed in subsequent sections.

222 These topics are:


224 Project Plan

225 Progress Reports

226 Evaluation Report

227 Staff

228 Deliverables

229 Competition Rules

230 Schedule

231 Configuration Management

232 Confidentiality

233 Competition Accommodations


235 In the Appendix, there are some checklists and templates. Stylistic

236 conventions in these Guidelines are summarized at the very end.


238 Format of the Competition at IOIn

239 ------ -- --- ----------- -- ----

240 The IOI Regulations provide some information about the IOI Competition.

241 In particular, the following sections of the Statutes are relevant:


243 * S4.7 about the Host Scientific Committee

244 * S4.8 about the General Assembly (GA)

245 * S4.9 about the GA meetings at IOIn

246 * S4.12 about the IOI Scientific Committee (added at IOI'99)

247 * S6.4 about the IOIn Host's obligation to produce Competition

248 Procedures and Judging Procedures

249 * S7 (i.e. S7.1 to S7.14) about Competition, Judging and Awarding


251 However, this information is rather limited and, in many cases, leaves

252 too much to the imagination. The Competition Procedures and Judging

253 Procedures mentioned in S6.4 are intended to provide the missing

254 details. In other cases, the IOI Regulations may prove to be too

255 restrictive. For instance, S4.9 requires a GA meeting "at the beginning

256 of the First Competition Day" and S7.11 requires that, for the purpose

257 of grading, various people "meet at the desk and computer of the

258 Contestant". In this section, we summarize, extend, and update this

259 information.


261 The following description is not intended to define the IOI Competition

262 format once and for all. The possibility for change remains

263 desirable. A described format will help focus the discussion about

264 such change.


266 According to the IOI Regulations, the IOIn Host Scientific Committee is

267 a temporary committee carrying the responsibilities for preparing and

268 executing the IOIn Competition. At IOI'99, the General Assembly

269 established the IOI Scientific Committee. The IOI SC is a long-term,

270 standing committee responsible for supervising the development,

271 preparation, and execution of the IOI Competitions.


273 In these Guidelines, we will speak of the group of persons who are

274 actually organizing the IOIn Competition as the "IOIn CC" (CC=

275 Competition Committee). The IOIn CC includes persons from the IOI SC

276 and IOIn Host SC, as well as others that have been specifically invited

277 to contribute.


279 In chronological order, the main events that concern the participating

280 delegations of the IOIn Competition are as follows:


282 * Announcement of the TYPES of Competition Tasks for IOIn, especially

283 new types (5 months prior to IOIn)

284 * Publication of the Competition Rules for IOIn, especially defining

285 the computing environment and the grading process (4 months prior

286 to IOIn)

287 * Questions about the task types and Competition Rules can be posed by

288 e-mail


290 * Arrival at the IOIn venue

291 * 1st GA meeting: Introduction

292 * Practice Competition: with one or two very simple tasks, which

293 preferably can be translated at home before IOIn

294 * 2nd GA meeting: Questions & Answers

295 * Other practicing opportunities


297 * 3rd GA meeting: Competition Tasks for the First Competition

298 are presented and subsequently translated

299 * First Competition of five hours, followed by the grading of all

300 submissions, opportunity to inspect results, and to file appeals

301 * 4th GA meeting: Finalize results of First Competition


303 * 5th GA meeting: Competition Tasks for the Second Competition

304 are presented and subsequently translated

305 * Second Competition of five hours, followed by the grading of all

306 submissions, opportunity to inspect results, and to file appeals

307 * 6th GA meeting: Finalize results of Second Competition


309 * 7th GA meeting: Finalize combined results of both competitions,

310 decide on medal distribution

311 * IOIn Evaluation Questionnaire

312 * Awards Ceremony, published results and solutions

313 * Departure from IOIn venue


315 Here is a summary: Detailed information is disclosed prior to IOIn. At

316 IOIn there is some introductory activity, followed by two identically

317 structured Competition Rounds. Everything is closed off by distributing

318 awards and solutions.


320 Some of these items are elaborated below. These descriptions are

321 necessarily brief. Therefore, it is recommended that IOIn CC members

322 have also gained experience by direct involvement in the preparation or

323 execution of previous IOIs. Reading reports of past IOIs may also be

324 helpful.


326 TYPES OF COMPETITION TASKS: Traditionally, the IOI Competition Tasks

327 have been programming tasks of an algorithmic nature, where the focus is

328 on designing correct and efficient algorithms. Input and output are

329 kept as simple as possible. As an aid to grading, algorithms must be

330 programmed so that machine execution is possible. Also see the

331 Competition Tasks of previous IOIs.


333 Currently, four types of programming tasks can be distinguished:


335 * Classic Batch: All input for one instance resides on disk in one

336 text file; the input is small enough to fit completely into some

337 global variables; the output is to be written to one text file on

338 disk. Established at IOI'94.


340 * Modern Batch: As classic batch, but input is from one or more text

341 files that are possibly too large to fit completely into global

342 variables; output may also involve multiple text files. Introduced

343 at IOI'95.


345 * Standard I/O Reactive: Input and output are through standard I/O

346 text streams, where input may depend on prior output, that is,

347 there is a dialog between the program and an environment.

348 Introduced at IOI'95.


350 * Library Reactive: Input and output occur through a well-defined

351 interface of routines in a special-purpose library; these routines

352 may involve files that are not directly visible to the competitors.

353 Introduced at IOI'96.


355 Traditionally, each run concerns a single problem instance. However, as

356 pointed out below under grading, it may be necessary to have programs

357 deal with multiple instances per run in the future.


359 The tasks should be such that clever competitors can decide by reasoning

360 that their submissions fulfill the stated requirements. This excludes

361 tasks that require submission of programs involving heuristics or hidden

362 features of the actual input data used for grading.


364 Here are four suggestions for new task types:


366 * Non-Secret Input: All competitors receive the same set of input cases

367 (on disk in text files) and have to deliver the corresponding output

368 (on disk in text files) as specified in the task description. The

369 input cases are so complex or large that their processing will

370 require the use of a computer.


372 The task may involve heuristics, and it may be necessary to develop

373 several programs, first to gather some statistics about the input and

374 decide on a suitable approach, and then a program for each approach.

375 The developed programs are not submitted for grading.


377 * Testing: The task is to develop a program T that tests another

378 program P, by confronting P with a set of input cases and

379 subsequently checking the output. The task description specifies

380 the program P under test. P can be given as a routine in a

381 library, with I/O done through parameters. Grading is done by

382 letting the competitor's program T test a number of reference

383 programs P, each with zero or more known errors.


385 * Resource Limited: The task involves additional constraints (apart

386 from those "naturally" imposed by the equipment), such as very little

387 memory, several memories with varying access costs, or restricted

388 operators (e.g. no multiplication or no more than a give number).

389 This can be simulated with a library, but may also involve special

390 pre-processing (to enforce the constraints before execution) or a

391 special environment in which to run programs (to monitor constraints

392 during execution).


394 * Tournament: The task involves the development of a reactive program

395 that plays a game. During grading, all programs play against each

396 other (and possibly some reference programs) in a tournament.

397 The score (also) depends on the game outcomes.


399 COMPETITION RULES: These are dealt with separately. Also consult

400 Competition Rules of past IOIs.


402 1ST GA MEETING (INTRODUCTION): Delegations will have received the

403 description of the (new) task types and the Competition Rules prior to

404 arriving at the IOIn venue. They have even had an opportunity to pose

405 questions about them. Nevertheless, it is good to provide a brief

406 introduction into the whole IOIn Competition. Questions whose

407 answers are needed for practicing must be handled in this meeting.

408 Other questions should be postponed until the 2nd GA Meeting after

409 the first practicing has taken place.


411 PRACTICE COMPETITION: Past IOIs have usually offered some opportunity

412 for the competitors to practice with the competition equipment, especially

413 the computer, its operating system, and the programming environment.

414 The First Competition Round has always been the first time that everything

415 comes together. Consequently, the First Competition Round has often been

416 hampered by various troubles, mostly occurring in the competition proper

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