ACM Programming Team  -- Fall 2018

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.  You can just participate in practices, or generally undergrads and first year grad students are eligible to compete, though the actual rules are more baroque.  In particular for the Fall 2018 competition, eligible students include:  

People who have started college in 2014 or later,
OR were born in 1995 or later,
OR possibly if you have completed no more than 8 semesters after high school (Fall 2018 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 undergrads may enroll in Comp 314/315, as long as they have

We compete on Saturday, November 3 all day (genrally the first Saturday in November).  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 was Tuesday Aug 28, 4:15-5PM, Doyle 214 conference room, 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 hour in the week after each practice.

 If you are interested in our practices, whether you can attend the organizational meeting or not, please fill out the data form at:

We will practice with old competitions.  Generally a team will agree on their language, C, C++, Java or Python, though it is possible to have one problem in Java and the next in C++....  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 in practice and in the actual competition.

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 weekend before the competition.  

The Mid-Central Regional Competition and the the Oct 7 online practice use the Kattis software.  For general practice, and particularly to get used to the Kattis environment before using it in proactice or competition, log in to, and try some problems.  These problems are like the competion problems in form and interface, except that in Open Kattis you get to choose from an enormous variety, and they display their level of difficulty.  There is also a friendly rivalry seeing which school can complete the most problems om Open Kattis.  At the beginning of Fall semester, 2017, Loyola was third in Illinois. The specific Notes for Teams on the Mid-Central site, includes an introduction to Kattis for the competitions.

Schedule for 2018

The practices are in the Computer Science Dept. in Doyle Center, 1052 W Loyola Ave.  Practices are in the second floor conference room and lounge. Food will be provided.  The exception is the online North American Kattis competition during Midsemester break on Oct 6.

Bring your own notebook computers if possible, set up with development software.

All 5-hour practices except Sat. Oct 6 are tentatively set on Sundays.  1-6PM, with lunch provided (likely pizza)

Sun. Sep 9 and Sep 23:  1-6 PM
Sat. Oct 6:  11AM-4PM online, wherever you are for Midsemester break - North American practice competition in the Kattis competition environment (slightly different than open Kattis).
Sun. Oct 14 and Oct 28: 1-6 PM
Nov 3: competition all day probably 9:30AM -6:30PM some university  in Chicago + I take you out to dinner afterward, if you like.

Initial online reflection times in the week after each practice are set for whatever part of Thurs 3-4:30 PM is convenient for you in Zoom.  URL:   If your machine does not have good feedback cancellation circuits, have headphones.  If more than one person meets in the same physical space, all can view their own screen, but only one computer should have the speakers and mic on to avoid awful feedback.

Oct 6 is the continent-wide online practice competition, 11AM-4PM central time.  You can be anywhere (with Internet).  It would be convenient to be with other team members in the IC or somewhere, but not necessary.