We goofed up. It was avoidable.
This is not the first goof-up that we have faced in a short contest. We have been there and done that. Specially the starting load during a CookOff has been a long standing problem for us. Sometimes the DB was unable to handle our complicated queries while at other times we were syn attacked! The result each time used to be the same. Pissed-off contestants at the start of the contest got soothed by the end by a usually good problem set (which we have no credit to take for but for our awesome problem setters).
We had tried to replicate the load at the start and fix things in our dev environment, but something or the other got left out. There used to be a time, when we would findan issue in a Cook-Off, fix it and then wait for the next CookOff to find the next one. It happened for a while until we took control of things, changed our application architecture, and moved to a new infrastructure!
Just a few days ago a couple of interns had joined the team and I was narrating this whole chain of events to them about how we had to be extremely alert and almost pray to god each time for the first 15 minutes that nothing goes wrong. The ordered food used to get cold in an eternal wait before it could draw our attention on this Sunday night of every month.
And how things have changed since last 6 months where we just think about googling the best restaurants to order the finest food for the 6 of us. And how things have to go wrong this very CookOff!
Among the changes that we had made, now we run our servers on AWS infra. Over the last six months, for our CookOff, we have been running four c3.2xlarge web instances in front of a MySQL RDS instance to handle the ever-growing load.
The load has been keeping well below 1 on these 8 core machines and hence we thought why not test with reducing a couple of servers this time. This was out of sheer curiosity as we have mostly been unable to accurately replicate the load and the behaviour of what happens in the first 5 minutes of our CookOff. Things boomeranged and we all know what ensued. The load shot up to unmanageable proportions and balancing it on the two additional servers took a lot of time.
No, we do not take our production setup very casually as it may sound. And not that we are considering this very lightly. The contest has been extended and things are back on track. And we are left embarrassed. This foolhardy of ours have not only wasted the entire contestant’s time, it also undid the huge effort of our problem setters. We apologise. It was certainly an avoidable situation.
Welcome to yet another delayed blog post from chefs’ kitchen. We have tried earlier, and we have been trying consistently towards it, but somehow we have not been able to deliver our blog posts on time. Nevertheless, we will keep trying. Now that we are here let us have a look back at the April Lunchtime 2014 and all that happened around it. If you have been a constant visitor to our Lunchtime contests, you would have noticed that the competition for a place atop is getting fierce. We have seen several new names from across the globe bringing glory to their schools, and many others are trying hard.
The April Lunchtime is yet another beautiful tale of the fierce competition among the younger breed of programmers across the world. Our problem setter Piyush Kumar, who was making his debut as a CodeChef programmer drafted the battlefield. Welcome aboard Piyush. The problems were aptly tested by our young and vibrant tester Balajiganapathi(apologies for missing his name initially). The Lunchtime-veteran Sergey Kulik wrote editorials and Russian translations for them. With all his experience, he churned out some luscious editorials, and we are sure you enjoyed them thoroughly. Among the others who decked the problem-setting panel, there were Minako Kojima and Gedi Zheng who contributed the Mandarin translations of the problem. All the delicacies from our problem-setting panel kept the participants engrossed for the entire three-hour duration of the contest. Moreover, while some were going on with the contest with absolute ease, there were some perplexed faces as well. Amid those faces there were our winners somewhere working their way up the ladder.
The April Lunchtime 2014 was a bit on the slower side, as far as the correct submissions are concerned. And although we did received significant amount of submissions by the end of the contest, the number of correct submissions was a tad on the lower side when compared to some of the recent Lunchtimes we have had. However, that did not hamper the quality of contest and we saw some brilliant performances. Moreover, few stood above the others.
The performances that caught us and everybody else by surprise came from maicaifou, dzy493941464, shizhouxing, fancycoder, and zcc598066456. Hailing from China, these fabulous five were taking part in their first Lunchtime contest ever. Finishing the competition among the top five, dzy493941464, shizhouxing, zcc598066456, and fancycoder have been around on CodeChef and have participated in our monthly contests earlier. However, it was the debut for maicaifou. And a gleaming one, we must say. What made the competition among these five even more exciting was the fact that zcc598066456, maicaifou, and shizhouxing were from the same school – Zhenhai High School, China. Now, we do not know for sure, but it certainly would have sparked a slight inter-school rivalry. That is a good one to have.
We think you all must have such competitive rivalries going on in your schools; some might have it in sports, some in academics, and some in competitive programming. And, we would love to listen about all of them. Also, if you have toppled any of your schoolmates in this or any previous lunchtime, do share it with us. You can even share with us, the results of all the Lunchtime participants from your school. It is always good to be competitive in life, so, play hard, play fair. Now, let us have a look at the victors of our April Lunchtime 2014.
Firstly, the non-Indian top 10:
Now, our Indian Top 10:
Heartiest congratulations to all the stars of our rank tables.
Now, we look at the final stats for the contest:
The non-Indian rank table, while was dominated by students from China (7 out of 10), our Indian rank table had some popular names in meteora, akshatb42, nihalpi1, and many more. These names and many of their companions will be shining big around the Indian programming circle in coming days. So, keep a watch on them. You too can carve your name among the finest programmers around the world; all you need to do is take a start. And we believe our Lunchtime programming series can give you that.
We hope to see many of you taking part in our Lunchtime contests in coming days. And with that we will wind up this post of April Lunchtime, and move towards the May Lunchtime 2014.
For any feedback, queries, or suggestion you can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
That is all from us, for now.