January Cook-Off 2013 – A Tale Of A Wrong Turn and A Crash, On A Crowded Route

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Use “first” as a prefix and suddenly everything becomes special. Be it the first bike, the first mobile, or the first videogame – they all have a special place in our heart even today. When we sat down for our “first Cook-Off” of this year, we were all keyed up and encouraged and almost frozen (Oh, the winter! Don’t you love it?). Pulling up our socks and hoodies, we began the first Cook-Off of the year featuring Hiroto Sekido as the problem setter, Anton Lunyov as the tester and Ashar Fuadi as the editorialist.

The beginning kept all of us glued to our screens, as we got the first submission of the contest from mikhailOK, within three minutes from the start! This was soon followed by the first successful submission from ivan100sic – and this time inside five minutes! The starting few moments of the contest were enticing, as our problem setters found the ACM ICPC 2012 ChampionmikhailOK, getting tricked by the examples in CIELDIST :).

The continually growing amount of participation not only swept us all off our feet but also did the same to our servers. Sadly, for machines, the idiom “sweeping off the feet” does not mean the same. The machines crash! Not that they actually did, but this resulted in intermittent connectivity problems, which many of you faced during the contest. Our team of engineers had to leave their pizzas midway to get back to work and try and fix this. By the time it got addressed, we had already received several emails and messages citing issues that you faced while submitting. It is needless to say, that we must have anticipated the growing numbers in each contest and have planned for it. Not that we are not. In a few week’s time, if all goes well, CodeChef should be moving to much more scalable systems.

As the contest progressed, the submissions on problem CIELDIST and MANYCHEF began mounting, while the remaining three problems were untouched. This made our problem setting panel realize that the problem set was harder this time around. Some more time into the contest and we got first the accepted submission on DEFACING from raveman (Phew!). However, this problem did not see the flurry of successful submissions as the other two. All this while, CIELKARA and AWDVAST did not see any accepted submission, and this remained so till the end.

In between, due to the issues that occurred and also sighting the tough problem set, the panel decided to extend the contest duration by 20 minutes. However, this did not change anything for the two unsolved problems – they remained unsolved. This made the January Cook-Off 2013 the first-ever Cook-Off to have two unsolved problems! Yet, despite the tough problem set and technical glitches, it got an overwhelming response as we saw over 1300 users making more than 10,000 submissions (highest ever in a Cook-Off) as we will see that in the numbers in a while.

The January Cook-Off 2013 gave us a night full of action, drama, and thrill and there was more to come. The biggest shocker came after the contest was over, as mikhailOK figured an inconsistency in AVDWAST which can be found hereAnton was quick to admit the same and he added an additional constraint in the problem statement which now at least makes the problem correct. Again, needless to say, how very upset this made the problem setting panel, considering the amount of effort that they had put in making and testing each problem. However, as humans, we can only do so much and hope that such errors do not recur! Let us all thank them for the huge effort that went behind making an interesting problem set.

This contest was indeed far from being perfect and though this does not excuse us from being responsible for those glitches, we must tell you that we are embarrassed and deeply apologetic for the glitches that occurred. And, as it has been with you, every contest has been a big learning experience for each one of us too and hopefully we will only improve from here.

The top ten winners of the January Cook-Off 2013 are:

  1. acube
  2. raveman
  3. niyaznigmatul
  4. mmaxio
  5. Gassa
  6. thocevar
  7. iwiwi
  8. alexfetisov
  9. uwi
  10. evima

And some stats:

  • Total Users: 1344
  • Total Submissions: 10112
  • Number of distinct users with correct submissions: 715
  • Total users from India: 1145
  • Total users not from India: 199

The editorials for January Cook-Off 2013 can be found here. We have made all the solutions for the problem set public and have moved the problems to our practice section where you can now submit your solutions.

That is all about the January Cook-Off 2013. We have always appreciated any and every suggestion and feedback you send, so please keep them coming to feedback@codechef.com. They help us serve you better.

In the end, we thank you for being there in spite of the glitches, making it the biggest Cook-Off ever hosted in terms of submissions and once again a sincere apology from the entire team for the errors that occurred.

We will be back soon. In between, we hope you are enjoying the replay of the ACM-ICPC Amritapuri onsite regionals 2012 this weekend.

Team CodeChef

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