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2006 South Central USA Regional Programming Contest

Contest Rules
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Just as in any other organized effort, this contest must have rules. The goal of this rule set is to clarify the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. Basically these rules attempt to give examples of things that you should and should not do. This is not a complete list. We reserve the right to define new rules as necessary to make this a fair, enjoyable contest.

<Soapbox> We will not entertain would-be lawyers - these rules are guidelines. Understand them, don't try to bludgeon anyone with them. </Soapbox>

One final thing - Do NOT do anything that might be perceived as cheating.

And now for the rules:


  • Teams must have exactly three members. Period. ACM Rule
  • Contestants must be undergraduates and/or students starting graduate school (for technical details, visit Official ACM Rules and read the section on Team Composition. That is our stance.)
  • You must pay your entrance fee (I wish this could be free, but as long as the world charges us, we will have to charge you).
  • You must complete Registration before October 28, 2006. International has changed the rules. Registration must be completed 7 (seven) days BEFORE the contest. The contest is on November 3-4, 2006 - so, all registration must be completed 7 days prior to this.
  • T-shirt sizes must be entered before October 23, 2006. Any sizes not entered by this date will be assumed to be XXXX-Small (actually we will assume X-Large).
  • Each Team Member must wear their official contest t-shirt during the contest on Saturday (if we could not provide one of appropriate size, we will suspend this rule for you. This must be done before 9:00 AM, Saturday.) This is a "recommendation" from ACM. I see no reason to not follow this recommendation.
  • The number of teams a school can bring will be determined based on resource availability. We expect to host from 70 to 100 teams (this number will be fixed as soon as I have a chance to survey our labs again). Here is the algorithm we will use:
    1. Each school with a completely registered team by the deadline will be accepted.
    2. While resources (spaces) still exist:
      1. Sort applications by registration date
      2. Allocate a slot for each school

    Using this approach, every school is guaranteed at least one team. After that, additional entries are allocated one at a time per school based on the order of registration. In other words, no one can bring 4 teams unless, everyone desiring to bring 1, 2 or 3 is already handled. Unfortunately, this means that we will not know until pretty late the exact maximum number of teams that can be entered.

    Experience shows that we can easily handle 2 teams per school (has not been a problem yet). Whether schools can bring 3, 4, or even more teams, will be based on space and the number of requests (last year, 2 schools had 4 teams competing).

    The goal of this rule is to make sure that every school has the opportunity to bring N teams before someone gets a N+1 team accepted.

    To complicate this system, the 20 teams, that would have to travel the longest distance, will be given priority to attend the University of Texas at Arlington site.


  • ACM says that any team that has not completed data entry by the deadline (October 28, 2006) will not be eligible (not allowed to win).
  • Doing something that the Contest Director deems unacceptable will get you disqualified.
  • There is no appeal (it's too late after the contest is over).
  • You will be required to leave immediately and will not be allowed to participate in any other function related to the contest. You will not have any money refunded.

    Examples of ways to get disqualified:
    • Eating during the Practice Contest.
    • Eating during the Contest.
    • Cheating of any kind.
    • Appearing to cheat.
    • Having contact with anyone during the contest other than your teammates and contest personnel.


  • The only language we are supporting is English. All problems will be presented in English. Any questions must be presented in English. If there are any questions concerning English (mine is a Mississippi variant of American English), please feel free to ask. What is obvious to one, is not always obvious to another.
  • Language that offends others is prohibited. Abuse can/will result in disqualification.

Actual Contest Rules

  • You may have only one computational device - the computer we provide. No calculators, PDAs or any other computational devices are allowed. Watches with calculators are not acceptable.
  • Tape/CD/MP3 Players are acceptable as long as they are capable of playing music only, used with headphones, and do not disturb anyone around you. Use as a storage device is unacceptable.
  • Contestants may bring resource materials such as books, manuals, and program listings. Contestants may not bring any machine-readable versions of software or data.
  • Solutions to problems submitted for judging are called runs. Each run will be judged as accepted or rejected by a judge, and the team will be notified of the results.
  • A contestant may submit a claim of ambiguity or error in a problem statement by submitting a clarification request to a judge. If the judges agree that an ambiguity or error exists, a clarification will be issued electronically (via PC^2)to all contestants.
  • Contestants are not to communicate with anyone except members of their team and personnel designated by the regional contest director. Systems support staff may advise contestants on system-related problems such as explaining system error messages.
  • Coaches are not allowed on the second floor of Coates or the second floor of Middleton on Saturday.
  • While the contest is scheduled for a particular time length (five hours), the regional contest director has the authority to alter the length of the contest in the event of unforeseen difficulties. Should the contest duration be altered, every attempt will be made to notify contestants in a timely and uniform manner.
  • A team may be disqualified by the regional contest director for any activity that jeopardizes the contest such as dislodging cords, unauthorized modification of contest materials, or distracting behavior.
  • Eight problems are planned to be posed. Where possible, problems will avoid dependence on detailed knowledge of a particular applications area or a particular contest language.

    In other words: do your best to solve the problems, do not do anything to disrupt your competitors, and concentrate on solving problems.
  • Scoring
    • Each minute a problem remains unsolved is considered a penalty minute.
    • Each submission you make counts as twenty penalty minutes. (updated 2002-10-18)
  • Submissions
    • Teams are responsible for knowing how to submit solutions via PC^2 (use the practice time before the contest).
    • All submissions will accumulate penalty points (don't make silly mistakes - submit the wrong file, select the wrong language, etc.). Judges will make no effort to guess what you meant.
    • All input will be from standard input. All output will be to standard output. When your program is run, the < will be used to redirect input into your program. The > will be used to redirect your output to a file. Failure on your part to plan for this will probably result in your program not being judged as correct. We will be doing all judging via our scripts (they use command line compiles - not the IDEs).
  • Judging
    • Judges will attempt to judge every submission made by a team during the contest.
    • These are the only rulings that you will get back
      • Yes - this means that your program was judged as correct. Quit working on it. Go on to another problem.
      • No - Compilation Error - this means that the judge was unable to compile your program
          Check the following:
        • Did you submit the correct source file?
        • Did you submit for the correct problem?
        • Did you choose the correct the language?
        • Did you test it before submitting?
      • No - run-time error - your program crashed while it was being run by the judge
      • No - time limit exceeded - your program ran for more than 2 minutes of clock time on the judge's system with the judge's data file
      • No - wrong answer - your program produced output that did not match the judge's expected output
      • No - presentation error - your output has a minor formatting issue. It is HIGHLY unlikely that you will get this message. Judges will be told to always respond with wrong answer if your output does not match. If you get this message, you know that a judge is tired of your repeated submissions with some simple text string misspelled.
      • No - other - contact staff - if you get this, that means that you have managed to do something totally unexpected. If someone does not talk to you soon, ask a helper for help.
    • Judging will be done as timely as possible. If it takes a long time to get an answer back, that means we are having a lot of submissions or we are having problems.
    • Judges decisions are not questionable. If you feel that we have made a mistake, you may send a clarification. Normally when a team believes that the judges are wrong, the real answer is that the team did not consider a possible variation of the input data. We will examine any data that seems to be producing unusual results. If we determine an error in our data (or solution), we will do what we can to rectify the situation. We will rejudge your submissions in sequence and give you credit for solving the problem at the earliest point that your problem ran correctly against the updated data file. We cannot give you the time back. If you continue to miss a problem, go on to others. Even if the fault is with us, we cannot set the clock back. Let us know if you suspect a problem and go on to another problem.
  • Winning
    • Teams solving more problems than others will be ranked higher (win by solving the most problems).
    • Teams having solved the same number of problems will be ranked based on penalty points (team with fewest is best).
    • Penalty points for unsolved problems will NOT be figured into this score.
    • Teams that have solved the same number of problems with the same number of penalty points will be ranked according to the time of the first correct submission. (updated 2002-10-18)
    • Ties after that point will be up to the Contest Director to resolve.
    • NOTE: In the event that we get to send more than one winner to the International Contest and teams from the same school place first and second - only one team per school will be promoted to International - ACM Rule.
  • Clarifications
    • Only clarifications submitted via the PC^2 software will be read.
    • All clarifications will be answered in one of two ways:
      1. No comment response
      2. Electronic response to all teams (via PC^2)
    • PC^2 provides a list of all submitted clarifications and the responses
    • Clarifications will be handled by the judges
  • Printing - we plan to provide network-based printing. The more people that print, the longer it will take to get printouts. Helpers will deliver your printout to you. Any file you wish to print MUST state your team number at the top of the printout. Put a comment at the top of your source that is very clear. Edit any text files to have your team number as the first line of any printout. If the helpers cannot determine who to deliver the printout to, they will throw it away.
  • Saving the code you write. If something goes wrong, backup copies are useful. You will be provided a floppy disk. You should periodically archive your code to the floppy (in case of complete machine failure). You will be permitted to take this floppy with you when the contest is over.
  • Resources
    • You are expected to use only the computer provided to you. Attempting to use the network is an automatic disqualification (during the contest).
    • You may use any resources that are not alive, not machine readable, and not a computational device. Clocks are allowed (unless they include calculators).
    • You may use any source or object code provided with the approved packages.
  • Helpers - We have a number of volunteers that will be helping throughout the contest. They will be wearing shirts similar to your contest shirts. These people are volunteers. They will do their best to help you throughout the weekend. During the contest they are not allowed to answer any questions about languages, how to compile, what a question is asking, etc. Make sure you have asked all your questions prior to the contest starting. Most of the time, these helpers will merely act as indirect references (you will ask something, they will go get an answer or someone who can provide an answer). Please be polite to these people.
  • Advice
    • Print when you need to (like when you switch from one person to another).
    • Expect delays when printing (at least five minutes).
    • Be courteous to everyone - it might help.
    • Take advantage of the practice time and the practice contest.
    • Don't miss the rules presentation.
    • Ask before it's too late.
    • Don't allow a question of un-ethical behavior to happen.

 SCUSA Regionals

The statements and opinions included in these pages are those of Hosts of the South Central USA Regional Programming Contest only. Any statements and opinions included in these pages are not those of Louisiana State University or the LSU Board of Supervisors.
© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Isaac Traxler