ACM Programming Team  -- Fall 2015

Do you like programming puzzles?
Do you like working together closely?
Do you want more practice thinking and DOING?
Do you want to broaden your programming expertise?
Do you like a challenge and a competition with a chance for big rewards?
Would you like credit for a CS Major elective?

Join the ACM Programming Team!
We need undergraduates and graduate students! 

Please contact the coach, Dr. Harrington. Contact information:

Every year the ACM puts on a programming competition for several three-member teams from each school.  Generally undergrads and first year grad students are eligible, though the actual rules are more baroque.  In particular for the Fall 2015 competition, eligible students include:  

People who have started college in 2011 or later,
OR were born in 1992 or later,
OR possibly if you have completed no more than 8 semesters after high school (Fall 2015 doesn't count) AND not have significant programming experience at times you were not a student (other than summer jobs).  If you are in this last category, let me know promptly  - a waiver must be acquired, and there is a deadline on the waivers!

Students who do not satisfy the above criteria can still practice with us, and may enroll in Comp 314/315, as long as they have

We generally compete on the first Saturday of November, all day.  An excellent description of most aspects of our Mid-Central Regional Competition is Winners get to go to the International Finals.  See for detailed information.

First Organizational Meeting: Just for this one organizational meeting we gather Monday August 24, 3-4 PM in the Windows Lab at Watertower campus, LT 410 to answer questions and plan meeting times. Meeting times have generally been 5 hours on a weekend, five times before the competition (roughly every two weeks), plus a reflection time in the week after each practice, likely for one hour, late on a weekday afternoon or maybe Sunday evening. I need you input on when you are available.  (Bring your calendars!) If you cannot attend the organizational meeting, please email me, preferably at least a day ahead, and include

We will practice with old competitions.  Generally a team will agree on their language, C, C++ or Java, though it is possible to have one problem in Java and the next in C++....  Sorry no C# or Python.  Students can join the team for the first time while taking COMP 271.  Of course, advanced students are very welcomed to jump in any time, but you are encouraged to start early in your studies and return in later years after more advanced programming/algorithms courses!  I am happy to have a second or third team with beginners, gaining experience.

If you like, undergraduates can earn 3 units of credit  in two years of participation, 1 unit of credit the first year and then 2 units in succeeding years by enrolling in Comp 314/315 and by participating in the practices.  Full-time undergraduate students now pay no extra for going up to 21 credits, but you need to apply to your Dean to go over 18 units.

See Basic Strategy for a more complete idea of the competition/practice dynamics, strategy, and sample problems.

Past teams have agreed that it is important to have practices as much like the real competition as possible.  That means 5 hours long!  I have never had a team that could agree on a five-hour weekday time.  We have generally done 5 weekend practices, coming about every other week, generally including the last two weekends before the competition.

There will likely also be an opportunity to participate in a nationwide online practice.  This may replace one of our regular practices.

The past schedule is shown for reference.  The days and times for practices will vary for 2015, but this gives an idea of what sort of involvement to expect:

Schedule For Fall 2014 (past)

Here is the plan for Programming Team/Comp 314-315 practices.   Particularly if I hear from more people who are available to compete officially on Nov 1, this could shift.

All weekend practices in Digital Humanities, Loyola Hall on north side of Loyola Ave, LSC.  Bring your own notebook computers.

Saturday Sept 6, 10AM-3PM
Sunday Sept14, 2-7PM
Saturday Sept 27, 2-7PM - continent-wide online practice competition
Saturday October 18 10AM-3PM
Saturday October 25 10AM-3PM

Saturday Nov 1 9:30AM-6:30PM ACM competition for those on an official team at the University of Chicago  + I take you out to dinner afterward, if you like.

After each practice, in the week after a practice, a time for reflection on the problems together: tentatively set as Wednesday noon-1PM online in Adobe Connect: