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2018-12-04 01:21 - Events

We represented INSA at ICPC

Last weekend there was the Southwestern Europe Regional Contest (SWERC) for the International Collegiate Programming Contest, the most prestigious of its kind. Along with 8 other students and our coach Christine Solnon, we represented our school INSA Lyon to compete against the best universities from France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

The event

Selection and training

To select the 3 members of the 3 teams that would represent INSA at the contest, our teacher Vasile-Marian Scuturici and the former champion Mathis Hammel organized an internal competition with 7 algorithmic problems. At the end of this contest the 9 winners were registered for the SWERC.

We then formed 3 teams. We tried to put together in each team people with different skills : for example a person who programs quickly, a person with advanced knowledge of algorithms and a person able to quickly go through a lot of problems and analyze them. We also tried to put together people who had previously worked together.

We then organized some trainings to know what to expect for the contest, and learn to work as a team and take the best from a team of 3 with 1 computer.

The contest

The competition was scheduled on December 1st and 2nd. On saturday we had conferences, a practice contest, and a banquet. The contest itself happened on sunday, followed by the explanation of the solutions and the ending ceremony.

The contest lasted 5 hours and was made of 11 algorithmic problems. The problems weren’t ordered by difficulty so we had to analyze all 11 problems and find out which ones we would be able to solve easily, which ones would take some thinking and which ones we wouldn’t have time to solve.



Last year, the best team was ranked 24th/75, and the two others were 32nd and 51st. This year, it was more balanced: my team was ranked 29th/89, and the two others followed closely: 36th and 38th. We solved 4 problems and the other teams 3.

The winners

The contest’s top 5 is:

  1. ENS Ulm (France)
  2. ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
  3. UPC (Spain)
  4. SNS (Italy)
  5. USI (Switzerland)

Comparison with the other French schools

The best teams of the following schools did better than we did:

  • École Polytechnique
  • ENS Ulm, Lyon, Paris Saclay
  • Télécom ParisTech

My team did better than some teams of all the schools above except for École Polytechnique, though.

All our teams did better than all teams from the following schools:

  • Université Paris Diderot
  • Université d’Artois
  • Télécom SudParis
  • INSA Rouen
  • Polytech Nice Sophia
  • CentraleSupélec
  • ENS Rennes
  • Université Paris-Sud
  • Université de Montpellier
  • Université Grenoble Alpes

Conclusion of this experience

I find very nice that the selection is made with multiple countries instead of selecting the best team from every individual country. It was an occasion to talk with students from foreign countries about their education and training.

The level of this contest is very high and it is good for our humility to see that some students are able to solve much more problems than us during the competition. At the same time, the rankings show that we can beat many of the teams with the best students from the best schools of Southwestern Europe.

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