They say that the problem with plenty is that one doesn’t quite know where to start from. It seems I too am faced with the same dilemma: where should I start from to write this post about our eventful Silver Jubliee August Cook-Off? For eventful, it definitely was.
The August Cook-Off can be credited for keeping all of us at CodeChef on our toes for the whole duration of the contest and more. No prizes for guessing the winner of this contest , its none other than Gennady Korotkevich. Egor Kulikov comes up second behind him just like our short contest rankings.
From the very start, the August Cook-Off was special to us. Our 25th Cook-Off is a milestone in our journey; the journey that started with the single idea of providing a competitive platform to the Indian programming community to hone their skills and fight it out with the best in the world. To have come up with 24 challenging Cook-Offs, and counting, is an achievement we are all proud of. So this Silver Jubliee Cook-Off had to be special.
We began sharp on time with a problem set of five with varying levels of difficulty. Within ten minutes, we had our first hit with yeputons opening his account with NOCODING. Others soon followed him, with NOCODING seeing a flurry of submissions. It turned out to be the most solved problem of the contest, with 835 successful submissions. YNOUTPUT was the next to be solved and it too saw a large number of solutions submitted for it. In fact, the downpour of submissions for these two actually saw the Judge at SPOJ get overloaded and slow down, but more on that in its due place.
After NOCODING and YNOUTPUT, the coders started tackling the comparatively harder problems of the set. CHEFPASS and LEBINARY were solved after some deliberation, the last of the set to see a hit was UNFRIEND. It garnered only 17 successful submissions.
With such a set, it seems the key to win the August Cook-Off was to be the first to solve all the five problems with speed and minimal penalties; none if possible. And that is precisely the strategy our hands-down winner of the contest seems to have followed. Welcome back, Gennady! He had given a miss to just the July Cook-Off, but we sure were hoping that he would turn up for our Silver Jubliee one. Gennady showed up within a few minutes of the contest and as expected of him, went on a rampage through the set. He was through with the whole set well within the first seventy five minutes of the contest! What more, he turned out to be the only one to have done so with zero penalties! It took a while for his peers to catch up with him, but EgorK soon completed the set and staked his claim at the second place. Within the first ninety minutes of the contest, we had our potential first and second rank holders and both of them stuck to their places till the end. Many congratulations to both Gennady and EgorK!
Here, have a look at our Top Ten winners for the August Cook-Off:
We have a debutant at the ranks this time. A round of applause for piob, who has made it to the 7th position on the leader board on his very first attempt at any of our contests ever! Seems we have a new coder to watch out for. Congratulations piob! We hope to see him frequently in future contests, with similar brilliance.
Let’s come back to the problem-set itself. A special Cook-Off, like our Silver Jubliee August Cook-Off, needed a special problem-set. And that is exactly what our problem setter, Shilp Gupta, presented us with. And how can one forget the role of our veteran problem tester, Hiroto Sekido? We thank both of them to have worked as a super efficient team to come up with such a special set for our milestone Cook-Off.
Special how, you ask. Wouldn’t you call a problem-set special if it notches the highest number of total users CodeChef has ever seen for a Cook-Off? Yes people, we saw landmark participation for a landmark Cook-Off! The stats say it all.
|Length of Contest||Unique Participants||Total Number of Submissions||User who have solved at least one problem|
|Country||Total Participants||Average Score per User|
|Rest of World||220||1.86|
It seems we end up breaking our own records with each successive contest. Here we were, celebrating the highest participation for a Cook-Off in July, ruing a little about the fact we fell just 7 short of achieving 1000 users. And here we are now, again celebration a record breaking participation with more than 1040 users! Ah, the bliss we feel.
Without a doubt, the August Cook-Off has given us enough reasons to celebrate, but it has also given us one to apologize to the community for. We were forty five minutes into the contest when suddenly we start registering complaints from all over. It seems that the Judge was taking forever to verify the submissions and give the results to the coders for their solutions. Some had been waiting for more than twenty minutes! Digging deeper into the matter we found out that the sudden barrage of submissions for NOCODING and YNOUTPUT had sent the Judge at SPOJ in a tizzy and it was finding it difficult to verify the large number of test cases for NOCODING AND YNOUTPUT. At one point in time there were close to 600 submissions waiting in the queue to be judged!! We decided to break for a few minutes to let the judge cool off and catch up with the speed of our coders submitting solutions. This period also allowed our problem setter and tester to retrospect and they finally came up with a plan of reducing the number of test cases for both these problems. We finally had to pause the submissions for a period of twenty minutes, from 10:30 PM to 10:50 PM. We crossed our fingers and resumed the contest hoping reducing the test cases would help and it did . Phew! We were relieved to say the least. To be fair to the community it was decided that the contest be extended for twenty minutes, till 12:20 AM. I am sure that was of great help to all. We will ensure that this situation does not come up again in future contests. Once again, we are really grateful to Shilp and Hiroto for helping us firefight the situation down. Thank you guys!
We would also like to thanks the users for bearing with us during the problem. We are also looking forward to hear your views and solutions of the same. Your feedback really means the world to us and a little help is always welcome. Also, do write back to let us know what you thought of our 25th Silver Jubliee Cook-Off and anything and everything that you think we need to hear about. And oh yes, here are the editorials for the August Cook-Off. For them, we have Shilp Gupta to thank for once again as he is also the editorialist for the August Cook-Off. Get back to us on those too and we will convey your feedback to him.
As I come to the end of this long post, it seems I have successfully managed to write about everything that I wanted to. Strange for a post that I did not know where to begin from. Just the one thing that remains is to remind you folks of the upcoming September Long Contest, though I am sure that needs no reminding of. We can assure you that we at CodeChef are every bit as excited as you to meet the September Challenge head-on. The kitchen is ablaze with related activity and aromas of the cooking problems are most appetizing. Before our chefs serve you a helping of those on 1st of September, do try your hand at the problems of the August Cook-Off which are now available in the practice section for you to attempt and improve on.
‘Tis time to say goodbye coders. This is the space you got to watch out for news from the kitchen. Till the next time, it is me saying Adios Amigos!
We will be taking down our server for maintenance on 22nd August, 2012 6:00am IST, that will be tomorrow. The websites that will be affected are http://www.codechef.com, http://discuss.codechef.com and http://blog.codechef.com. During this period you will be unable to access the above websites.
The maintenance should take around 2 hours, but we will be up as soon as possible. Hoping it won’t be an in-convenience.
August is a very special month for Indians. It was 65 years ago, on the 15th of this month that our nation sampled its first sweet taste of freedom and we came into our own being. So, perhaps it feels just right to have an Indian at the sixth place on our global Top Ten ranks for the August Long Contest. Yes, we are talking of djdolls who fought it out hard with the best programmers in the world to make his mark on our top listings. I do hear cheers go up all around in the home crowd and that, sounds good!
Moving on, the August Long Contest is done now, but it is far from being dusted. The challenge turned out to be one of multiple claims on the first place, surprise late entries that changed things on the ranks, quite a few fresh appearances in the final top ten, Indians making their mark on the leader board and, let’s admit it, a few minor glitches from our side. Read along to find out more.
Let’s talk of the top rank holders at the outset. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for ACRush and acube, our first and second rank holders respectively for the day. Between them, they made sure that the result of the August Challenge was a guessing game to the very end. Their styles of tackling the long contest were quite different.
ACRush made his presence felt early up in the contest. He came in on the second day and soon worked his way to the top ranks. Once he got to the acme of the rankings, he decided to hold on to it and made himself comfortable at that spot. ACRush, being a master of Long Contests, looked all set to finish at the top when suddenly on the eighth day of the contest another veteran decided to rush in and shake things up a bit at the front. Acube’s blitzkrieg through the problem set was awe-inspiring to say the least. He found his way to the top soon and when he was still sitting pretty at that spot with less than seventeen hours to go for the end of the contest many hoped for, and got, a tough fight between him and ACRush for the first place. Not the one to give up, ACRush continued to try and improve his score to 10. It seems he was biding his time. Just an hour before the end of the contest, with acube still holding tight to his position at the top, ACRush came up with a solution for the challenge problem CHECKERS, that had the judge grant him the elusive perfect 10. That sealed the winner for the August Long Contest. Our congratulations to, and appreciation for, both the aces for showing everyone what it takes to be master-class!
With that, have a look at the Global Top Ten listed below. Note that we have four participants jointly holding the 10th place. Also worth mentioning is a splatter of fresh appearances on the ranks like Sumudu, djdolls, evgentu, Krig and shevchen. Sumudu was at one time leading the score board. With experience and further practice, we might soon see fresh challengers for the top places. We wish all of them luck for future contests.
Global Top Ten:
Let’s also look at what the home crowd has been up to during the contest. Check out the Indian Top Twenty ranks. Quite a few people on the twentieth rank this time.
Indian Top Twenty:
The special point in the August Challenge, especially for the Indians, is the mark fellow compatriot djdolls made. By securing the sixth place on the final list of the Top Ten winners, with a score of 9.273, he gave the Indians another small reason to celebrate the month of Independence. In fact, the Indians seemed to have taken this Contest pretty seriously. Their presence was constant in the global top twenty or thirty from the start. As a result, apart from djdolls, we also have balajiganapath at the 15th place on the global rankings and quite a few on the 19th rank too.
As of the problem-set itself, the feedback suggests that it was on the harder side and might have required a little extra from the coders. The contest began with eight problems as we were still putting the garnishing on MAGIC and GTHRONES to make them perfect for serving. Most of the problems saw a healthy response to them in the number of successful submissions, with LEBOMBS garnering the first and maximum followed by HOMDEL. Our winner, ACRush, wrote back to express his appreciations for the set and especially for CHECKERS, our challenge problem. Have a look at the stats below to know how the August Challenge fared in terms of numbers.
|Length of Contest||Unique Participants||Total Number of Submissions||User who have solved at least one problem|
|Country||Total Participants||Average Score per user|
|Rest of World||641||2.52|
The stats are indeed intriguing . We have seen the highest user participation till date on CodeChef!! Keep it coming along people.
For putting together a set that provided an interesting contest, I believe thanks are in order to our team of setters and our tester. The group that spent sleepless nights and labored days to come up with this set consists of Vitaliy Herasymiv, David Stolp, Khadar Basha, Kaushik Iska, Gennady Korotkevich, Shanjingbo, Vamsi Kavala, AnhDQ and Nikhil Garg. The person who was assigned the not-so-easy task of testing the works of all the above experts is Hiroto Sekido, an expert no less in his own right. We are really thankful to him for being such a solid rock that we depend on so often for problem setting and testing jobs. Hiroto has been taking on either of those responsibilities for the past two months and the upcoming August Cook-Off will see him wear the hat of the problem tester once again. We also extend our special thanks to Gennady for helping out Hiroto in testing process. Finally we again have Nikhil Garg doubling up as our Editorialist for the Challenge. From the words of the community it seems Nikhil’s last editorials for the July Long Contest were highly appreciated for being lucid and to the point. We are hopeful that you would find his Editorials for the August Challenge in the same league too.
So, it seems we are done with this long contest, doesn’t it? Well, not without our apologies for the minor glitches that the participants faced during this challenge. We had to update the test cases for MACGUN on the second day, followed by the updating of the statements of three of our problems for the better readability of the community. We faced further problems when coders started complaining of getting a compile time error for their solutions around 8th August. Thankfully, that was soon detected and corrected by the SPOJ team on the same day. We are sincerely regretful of the inconvenience caused to everyone. At CodeChef we always strive to provide our programmers a perfectly enjoyable and competitive experience and I hope such niggles won’t interfere with the same in the future. What would help us further in that direction is your valuable feedback. Drop in your thoughts, suggestions and complains alike. We are sincerely all ears.
I guess I have come to the end of this post on another long contest. For those who agree with me that the banner this time was perfectly befitting the occasion, lets put our hands together for Manasi. She has been coming up with brilliant and colorful themes for the banner each time.
What next, huh? As I write, there is quite a bustle in the kitchen in preparation for the August Cook-Off which is scheduled for this coming Sunday, the 19th. I can hear the pots and pans clanging! Till we present you with the recipes for the coming Cook-Off, master the ways of our August Long Contest problems in the practice section at leisure.
Signing off now with hopes of returning real soon. Bye folks!