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20 years of IOI competition tasks +The competition tasks at the International Olympiad in Informatics have evolved over its 20-year history. We distinguish three periods in this evolution and highlight it from various viewpoints. The 101 competition tasks are presented in a table that summarizes their task type and difficulty level, and that classifies them according to concepts involved in their problem and solution domains.  +


50% rule should be changed +Last two years we have had a new rule implemented at IOI competition. Unfortunately, it brought lots of problems with it, and participants, as well as other IOI-related people, weren't happy with this rule. This document attempts to analyze the 50% rule, and to introduce a new one that could replace it.  +


A mathematician reflecting on the International Olympiad in Informatics +In July 2013, students from 80–90 countries will descend upon Australia to take part in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). On the surface the IOI is a computer programming competition, but in fact it involves a great deal of both mathematical technique and mathematical creativity. In this short article we introduce the readers to the IOI and the mathematics within.  +
A proposal for a task preparation process +This paper presents in details the task preparation process in the Polish Olympiad in Informatics. It is a result of over 15 years of experience in organization of programming contests for high-school students. It is also a proposal of best practices that should be applied in a task preparation process for any programming contest. Although many elements of the described process are widely known, the rigorous implementation of the whole process is the key to high task quality.  +
A proposal for an IOI syllabus +The International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) is the premier competition in computing science for secondary education. The competition problems are algorithmic in nature, but the IOI Regulations do not clearly define the scope of the competition. The international olympiads in physics, chemistry, and biology do have an official syllabus, whereas the International Mathematical Olympiad has made the deliberate decision not to have an official syllabus. We argue that the benefits of having an official IOI Syllabus outweigh the disadvantages. Guided by a set of general principles we present a proposal for an IOI Syllabus, divided into four main areas: mathematics, computing science, software engineering, and computer literacy.  +
Algorithmic Problem Solving and Novel Associations +We elaborate on the essential role of novel associations between recognized task patterns and invoked algorithmic schemes, during algorithmic problem solving. We display three algorithmic tasks of different levels of difficulty, and characterize them by their required pattern-scheme associations. We display diverse student solutions to the tasks, which reflect different levels of competence; and suggest a series of considerations of which tutors should be aware upon selecting and posing algorithmic challenges to students.  +
Algorithms without programming +Programming contests are generally intended to popularize computer science, particularly algorithmic thinking and programming skills. However, such contests are addressed to a limited group of pupils - those that can write programs and know at least some programming techniques. But how can we attract those pupils that know nothing about programming or algorithms? We argue that one of the ways to do it is to present tasks that require some algorithmic thinking, but no programming. The paper contains several such example tasks together with their analysis.  +
An enticing environment for programming +While teaching a course on the foundations of informatics to non-CS students, the author wanted to offer a programming challenge without burdening the participants with the numerous details that typically accompany the use of practical programming languages and tools. In particular, there should be no need to install an editor and execution environment (compiler or interpreter). Furthermore, the programming language should be sufficiently simple and clean. However, the author did not want to design a completely new language with tools. This article presents Tom's JavaScript Machine as an attempt at providing a simple and enticing environment for programming, and reports some experiences. Tom's JavaScript Machine is freely available on-line and only requires a web browser that supports JavaScript. It includes a simple 3D-variant of Turtle Graphics (for browsers that support the HTML5 canvas element) and an instructive programming challenge with extensive (inter)active hints. The ideas behind Tom's JavaScript Machine can also be applied to create problem-specific environments for informatics contests. However, the current implementation still has some shortcomings that need to be addressed.  +
An evaluation of mathematics competitions using item response theory +Item Response Theory (IRT) is a psychometric technique mathematically modeling the probability of the responses of individuals of varying ability to questions (items) on multiple-choice examinations. The author gives an introduction to IRT and explains how it can be used to assess mathematics tests from competitions to placement exams.  +
Analyzing programming contest statistics +In this paper we will try to analyze a large database of submission of contestants from different parts of the world and provide some important results which was never presented before in this manner and at this scale. These results may enable us to find out what aspects of programming contests need to be changed to make it more meaningful, how practice and experience improves the performance of a contestant and it will also create new openings on which we can continue our study in future. It will also help us to identify the geographic locations which are not lightened by programming contest and then we can take initiatives for those regions. At the end of this paper we will try to put together some suggestions to improve programming contest by making IOI and ICPC more similar.  +


Baltic olympiads in informatics: Challenges for training together +Baltic Olympiad in Informatics (BOI) is an annual informatics competition established by the three Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1995 for upper secondary school students. BOI was later expanded to include all countries located around the Baltic Sea. One of the main goals of the BOI is to bring gifted students together and let them gain experience from an international event before participating in the International Olympiad in Informatics. Another important goal is to bring together the team leaders from different countries and to share their experience by creating common tasks. All tasks are developed and discussed as well as translated before the BOI event using online facilities. The paper reviews some parts of the history of the BOI and gives a short glance at the current state of informatics education in the BOI countries. The main attention is focused on the task preparation process as well as presentation and analysis of statistical data from the previous BOI. Finally some development ideas and discussion on the future of the BOI competition are presented.  +
Bebras international contest on informatics and computer literacy: Criteria for good tasks +The Bebras International Contest on Informatics and Computer Literacy is a motivation competition in informatics that addresses all lower and upper secondary school pupils divided into three age groups: Benjamin (age 11–14), Junior (age 15–16) and Senior (for upper secondary level). Using a computer the pupils have to solve 15 to 21 tasks of different levels within 45 minutes. Two general types of problems have been used: interactive tasks and multiple-choice tasks. Creating interesting and attractive tasks that are also motivating and funny for the pupils is very challenging. The paper deals with criteria for good tasks. Some examples of tasks are presented and discussed as well.  +
Brazilian Olympiad in Informatics +The Brazilian Olympiad in Informatics (OBI, in Portuguese) is a contest promoted by the Brazilian Computing Society (SBC) and its main purpose is to raise the interest of students in such an important science for a student's education as Computing Science, through an activity that involves challenge, ingenuity and a healthy dose of competition. The contest is composed of two different categories, for two levels of contestants: a programming contest for high school students (Programming Category) and a logic contest for elementary students (Logic Category). In this paper we will discuss the main aspects and challenges concerning the OBI organization.  +
Breaking the routine: Events to complement informatics olympiad training +Like many other countries, Australia holds live-in schools to train and select students for the International Olympiad in Informatics. Here we discuss some of the more interesting events at these schools that complement the usual routine of lectures, problems and exams. In particular we focus on three events: (i) codebreakers, aimed at designing tests and finding counterexamples; (ii) "B-sessions", aimed at implementation and rigour; and (iii) team events, which use challenges in cryptography and information security to encourage teamwork in a competitive setting. Practical issues are also discussed.  +


Challenges in running a computer olympiad in South Africa +Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in South Africa lags behind that of the developed world, which poses challenges in running the South African Computer Olympiad (SACO). We present the three-round structure of the SACO as it is run today, focusing on the challenges it faces and the choices we have made to overcome them. We also include a few statistics and some historical background to the Olympiad, and sample questions may be found in the appendix.  +
Competitive learning in informatics: The UVa online judge experience +The UVa Online Judge is probably the oldest and one of the most recognized programming contest training sites for ICPC format contests. It is an automatic judging system where anyone from around the world (regardless of being a contestant or not) can submit his solution to the archived problems to check its correctness and improve his programming skill in the process. Although the judge was initially developed to be used as a trainer site for potential competitors in the international programming contests (mainly ACM ICPC), we have observed that it is a very good tool for self-study. In the present paper some facts from the history of the site are given. Then the paper focus to the nature of self-competitive learning by analyzing the more frequent response sequences to the users from the judge along these 10 years. And by doing so we identify the main differences between the behaviors of the users when they are just training and when they are competing.  +
Computer science contests for secondary school students: Approaches to classification +The International Olympiad in Informatics currently provides a model which is imitated by the majority of contests for secondary school students in Informatics or Computer Science. However, the IOI model can be criticized, and alternative contest models exist. To support the discussion about contests in Computer Science, several dimensions for characterizing and classifying contests are suggested.  +
Computer science contests in Germany +In Germany, the preconditions for running a successful Computer Science contest for secondary school students are not perfect. However, many contests that are related to the area of Computer Science are run by as many different organizations. The Federal Contest in Computer Science (German: Bundeswettbewerb Informatik, short: BWINF), a task-based contest with two homework rounds and a symposium-style final round, is the most important, nation-wide contest in the field. BWINF office is also responsible for Germany's IOI team selection and participation. In addition, in recent years the office has been running several other projects to popularize Computer Science and promote talents in this field.  +
Concepts, terminology, and notations for IOI competition tasks +In this document, we classify concepts, terminology and notations with respect to their usability in IOI competition tasks. We distinguish three usability classes: basic knowledge (can be used without further ado), to-be-defined (can be used, but must be defined explicitly), and to-be-avoided (must not be used). The classification primarily concerns the use in task descriptions, which are presented to contestants at the beginning of the competition. But it also concerns solutions handed out after the competition. This classification can benefit both organizers and participants in their preperations for an IOI competition.  +
Contests in programming: Quarter century of Lithuanian experience +The paper deals with development of informatics competitions in Lithuanian and in particular of the Lithuanian Olympiads in Informatics over the past 25 years. The role of the Young Programmer's School in both introducing programming to secondary school students, organizing programming competitions and later encouraging and training students to participate in informatics olympiads is emphasized. The evolution of the national olympiad in informatics from the first pen and paper competitions to the current four round contest, held using contest and grading systems, is described. The paper also gives a short overview of other related contests like the Baltic Olympiads in Informatics, and the Beaver contest.  +
Creating and visualizing test data from programming exercises +Automatic assessment of programming exercises is typically based on testing approach. Most automatic assessment frameworks execute tests and evaluate test results automatically, but the test data generation is not automated. No matter that automatic test data generation techniques and tools are available. We have researched how the Java PathFinder software model checker can be adopted to the specific needs of test data generation in automatic assessment. Practical problems considered are: how to derive test data directly from students' programs (i.e., without annotation) and how to visualize and how to abstract test data automatically for students? Interesting outcomes of our research are that with minor refinements generalized symbolic execution with lazy initialization (a test data generation algorithm implemented in PathFinder) can be used to construct test data directly from students' programs without annotation, and that intermediate results of the same algorithm can be used to provide novel visualizations of the test data.  +
Creating informatics olympiad tasks: Exploring the black art +Each year a wealth of informatics olympiads are held worldwide at national, regional and international levels, all of which require engaging and challenging tasks that have not been seen before. Nevertheless, creating high quality tasks can be a difficult and time-consuming process. In this paper we explore some of the different techniques that problem setters can use to find new ideas for tasks and refine these ideas into problems suitable for an informatics olympiad. These techniques are illustrated through concrete examples from a variety of contests.  +


Development and exploration of Chinese National Olympiad in Informatics (CNOI) +This article presents a general overview of the historic development, exploration and practice of CNOI during the past 23 years. It includes: 1) some historical data recording the development of CNOI; 2) main contest activities organized by the Scientific Committee and Competition Committee of NOI of CCF, and some relevant management experiences; 3) the selection mechanism for the best contestants of CNOI; 4) the development and characteristics of a testing and evaluation system; 5) the development and characteristics of a visible team competition; 6) training of contestants and teachers, and the improvement and perfection of competition rules.  +


Early introduction of competitive programming +Those who enjoy programming enjoy programming competitions, either as contestants or as coaches. Often coaches are teachers, who, aiming at better results in the future, would like to have more and more students participating, from earlier stages. Learning all the basic algorithms takes some time, of course; on the other hand, competition environments can be introduced right from the beginning as a pedagogical tool. If handled correctly, this can be very effective in helping to reach the goals of the course and, as a side-effect, in bringing larger crowds of students into the programming competition arena.  +
Encouraging algorithmic thinking without a computer +At the secondary school level, traditional programming competitions remain inaccessible to the vast majority of students. We describe the Australian Informatics Competition(AIC), a pen-and-paper event that is accessible to a much broader audience but still retains a core focus on algorithms. In addition to multiple choice questions, a unique feature of the AIC is its three-stage tasks that invite algorithmic thinking by posing similar problems of increasing size. In this paper we describe the AIC, the design decisions behind it, and the types of problems that it contains.  +
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