[2005-03-17] SRM-234

This morning I took part in my first TopCoder Single Round Match (SRM) - "SRM-234". I liked the experience and would like to take part in more of these, time permitting. The 250-point problem was a simple "find the length of the longest contiguous string of either As or Bs in the input". The 500-point problem was to find the sequence of unit fractions ("1/n") in descending order that add together to yield the given fraction "x/y". The 1000-point problem was to find the derivations needed to get to the input string given the productions of a simple non-left-recursive grammar. The problems (as I have also noticed in the practice rooms) were not difficult per se, but had to be solved "correctly enough" within the given 75-minutes - much less if you also want to get a good score and ranking. It does not really matter if your code or design is elegant as long as it manages to pass all system tests as well as the challenges that other coders might throw at it. The permissible input is also severely restrained so that you do not usually have to worry about validating it. One thing I noticed is that there were not many Indians among the toppers, while there were quite a few people from Poland. This is quite weird as I have met quite a few good Indian coders. Perhaps the lack of awareness, the lack of an enthusiasm for such competitions, the lack of decent net connections, the weird timings of the matches when converted to IST, etc. play a role. If you are an Indian coder reading this, please do consider taking part in these matches and letting your friends know about it.

(Originally posted on Advogato.)

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