ACM Programming Team  -- Fall 2014

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 2014 competition, eligible students include:  

People who have started college in 2010 or later,
OR were born in 1991 or later,
OR possibly if you have completed no more than 8 semesters after high school (Fall 2014 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 compete on Saturday, November 1, 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: We meet Monday August 25, 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. 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 exctra 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.

Schedule For Fall 2013 (not 2014 - here for illustration)

Practices are at LSC, 1-6 PM in Cudahy 316 on these Saturdays:

Sept  7, 21 28, Oct 19, 26

**** Saturday Nov 2, 9AM- 6PM  competition 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: Friday 11:15AM-12:15PM online in Adobe Connect: