August 6, 2010
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
For the first time in India, a programming camp was organized for advanced students of computer science, wanting to participate in the collegiate ACM-ICPC programming contest.
Amrita is one of two universities in India (the other being IIT-Kanpur) that conducts this world-wide contest every year to short-list participants for the world finals. Amrita conducted the camp in partnership with the Campus Connect program of Infosys.
Given below is a report by the Amrita ACM-ICPC Contest Director, Dr. Vallath Nandakumar.
A year ago, Amrita’s friends in the programming community asked that a camp be conducted so that they could coach students to excel at the ICPC, the Olympics of Programming Contests.
39 students came from 19 engineering colleges in India. In addition to Amrita, we had students from IIT Madras, NIT Trichy, and IIIT Hyderabad. These students had all participated in intermediate- and advanced-level programming contests of Indian colleges.
A team of instructors from all over India volunteered their time and expertise. Many of the instructors had participated in the ACM-ICPC and Google Code Jam world finals. Some had acquired top (Red) ranking in Topcoder (topcoder.com).
Over five days, students spent nearly six hours every day learning algorithms and concepts, including some pseudocode. They learned more about Data Structures, Number Theory, Dynamic Programming, Graph Theory, Combinatorics, Geometry, Probability, Linear Algebra, Matrices, Search Techniques, Strings, RMQ/LCA, Iterative Techniques, Code Optimization.
Students were housed in the comfortable guest house on Infosys’s beautiful campus in Bengaluru. It was green and cool, and they were given great food. They had nothing else to wory about and spent several hours each evening, solving problems using newly taught concepts. Problems from SPOJ, CodeChef, ICPC, and Topcoder were set as homework and examples.
Students were encouraged to interact with their peers to clarify doubts. The last afternoon was reserved for a real contest; 10 problems had to be solved in 4 hours. The team of B. Srivatsan from IIT Madras and Kunal Jain from IIIT Hyderabad won with 5 correct solutions. All students received certificates of participation.
Feedback from students was very encouraging. They reported learning lots of new and interesting programming and algorithmic concepts. I feel that the students gained a good picture of a wide variety of concepts. Most managed to solve some problems and some solved most.
While other countries including Russia and China have been conducting such camps for the last few years, this was the first time such a camp was organized in India. The work will continue, as student participants practice in the upcoming months, with online help from instructors. They will prepare to represent India at the world finals of the ACM ICPC. We wish them all the best!