The ACM Greater New York regional contest was held this Sunday, November 9. One of the two Cornell teams has won the regionals and is advancing to the contest finals held next March in Prague. Read more..

The ACSU Programming Contest

The Fall 2003 Programming Contest was held on Saturday,October 18 at 10:00 am in the CSUG-Lab.  Check the results..

The ACSU Programming Contest is an event organized once per year by Cornell's Association of Computer Science Undergraduates. It is a programming contest for individual participants. This site tries to give you all necessary information about the contest. It answers the following questions:

Who is allowed to participate?

The fall contest is open to all students at Cornell University, regardless of their year or major. However, if you hope to qualify for one of our teams sent to compete in the regional ACM contest, you must satisfy the ACM ICPC eligibility criteria, which means that less than five years must have passed since you started attending college (that is, vast majority of undergraduates and most first-year greduate students qualify).

Eligibility for prizes is restricted to members of the Association of Computer Science Undergraduates. So you should join in time if you are planning on winning those goodies.

Why would I want to participate?

There are lots of reasons why you would want to participate. First and foremost, we think that it's a fun event. If you are looking for a more material incentive, you can win pretty cool prizes, and every participant gets free T-shirts, pizza and soda. If you make it on the Cornell team, you get an all expenses paid trip to New York, and possibly to the ACM ICPC finals in Prague, Czech Republic in March 2004.

On the more career-oriented side, the contest lets you hone your problem solving skill and gives you practice in programming and solving algorithmic questions. Doing well in the contest looks great on your resume, and in fact, our local sponsors as well as IBM, the sponsor for the world finals, go to great length in trying to hire contestants.

What is the time commitment for me?

The time commitment is one Saturday morning - this is no long-term project contest. If you are interested, you can improve your chances by practicing beforehand, or try out for Cornell's team for the International Contest afterwards. But none of this is mandatory.

When and where is the contest?

The Fall 2003 contest will be held on Saturday, October 18th, at 10:00am, in the Computer Science Undergraduate Lab in Upson Hall (Room Upson 315, and parts of Upson 317).

Does it cost anything?

The contest is absolutely free to all participants.

What can I win?

In the past, prizes included hand-held computers, game consoles, a digital camera, and computer games and other software. Expect prizes to be similar for future contests.

How do I register?

To register, send an e-mail stating so to , including your name and year of study. If you do register in time, we will guarantee you a place in the contest - if you don't and there is a lot of interest, you might not get to participate. Please only register if you really plan to participate, as the available space is limited.

What's up with that International Contest?

The fall contest is also our Cornell selection round for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. The ACM ICPC is a huge contest, in which over 1500 schools participate worldwide. The best teams from each region get to go to the world finals.

In 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002, Cornell has won the Greater New York Regional Contest and sent a team to the world finals, while coming in second in 2000. The team winning the regional contest gets to represent the New York Region in the world finals, which this time will be held in Prague, Czech Republic in Spring of 2003. We would love you to help us keep up the tradition of having Cornell represent New York.

The best participants at the local contests, as well as anyone who shows specific interest, are invited to try out for the Cornell teams. During the tryouts, we have simulated contests, and teach you language-specific tricks and algorithms that are commonly necessary in the contest.

The actual teams get all expenses paid trips to the New York area for the Regional Contest, and to wherever the world finals are if we win. The next world finals (2004) are in Prague. Any more questions?

I want to get serious. How can I practice?

You can greatly improve your chances to do well in the contest by practicing beforehand. There are three areas that help:

Which programming languages are supported?

For the fall contest, we try to stick closely to the rules of the world finals, which means that we support Java and C/C++, in the installation available in the undergraduate lab that we use. Specifically, these are Microsoft Visual C++ 7.0, and Sun JDK 1.3. You can also use Microsoft Visual J++ for developing Java programs, but your program will be tested using JDK.

For the spring contest, we will be allowing any language that is installed in the lab, and make you submit your output file instead of source code. If you want, you can even solve the problems by hand, although that is not the recommended way.

What do the official rules look like (a.k.a What tools can I use)?

The complete rules are a little lengthy, so they are on their own Rules Page.

Perhaps the most important point: you may bring any printed or written material, but no electronic devices (such as Laptops, hand-held computers or even calculators).

How did past contests go?

The contest has been organized by Adam Florence until 1999, and by David Kempe 2000-2002. Here are pages of past contests, created by Adam and David respectively. Some of the problem sets are in Microsoft Word format, others (the later ones) in PostScript.

Who do I contact for more information?

To contact the contest organizers for more information, you can send an e-mail with your question to . This will reach Martin Pal, the current organizer of the contest.

Can you keep me informed on any news?

If you would like to be informed by e-mail about upcoming contests and contest results, we highly recommend that you subsribe to the Programming Contest mailing list. You do so by sending an e-mail to with an empty subject line and the body consisting only of one line saying "SUBSCRIBE Programming-Contest-L Firstname Lastname", where "Firstname Lastname" is of course your name.

This page is maintained by Martin Pal.

Last modified:  22 Oct 2003.