Programming Marathons

Author: Jessica Dagostini – beecrowd

(6 minutes of reading time)


Competitive programming is programming in a competitive environment. It is a mind sport (mental competition), carried out via the internet or in person and involves participants from the technology area, who try to solve a series of problems according to some specifications, using programming.

A programming competition usually involves presenting a set of logic or math problems to the contestants and requiring them to write computer programs capable of solving each of those problems. The one that solves the most problems wins and there are tie-breaking criteria such as resolution speed and others.


SBC PROGRAMMING MARATHON

The Programming Marathon is an event of the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC) that has existed since 1996. The Marathon was born from the regional qualifying competitions for the world finals of the programming contest, the International Collegiate Programming Contest, and is part of the South American chapter of the contest. This year is the 26th edition of the Marathon that will be held in Gramado, Rio Grande do Sul, from March 31st to April 3rd.

The marathon is intended for undergraduate and early graduate students in Computing and related area. The competition promotes creativity in students, the ability to work as a team, the search for new software solutions and the ability to solve problems under pressure.

Several universities in Brazil develop local contests to choose the best teams to participate in the Programming Marathon. These teams compete in the Marathon where the best teams will be selected to participate in the event's World Finals.


BRAZILIAN FINAL OF THE XXVI PROGRAMMING MARATHON

For those who like competition and programming, the SBC Programming Marathon is a banquet! This coming weekend is happening the national final of this competition, which classifies 3 teams for the world final of the International Collegiate Programming Contest - ICPC. We can say that the ICPC is the “World Cup” of the computing world, where the SBC Marathon is one of the “Cup qualifiers”.

Participating in this type of competition brings several benefits to students of Computer areas. In these competitions, programmers compete in trios representing their universities. Everyone must share the same computer and, together, find computational solutions for about 12 proposed problems, which must be solved in a 5-hour test. During these 5 hours, the team does not have access to any external or online resources: all they can access is their knowledge, physical books and physical notes.

Like sports competitions, the Marathon helps its competitors to develop not only technical skills but also time management, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. For a team to be successful, it is not enough to master all the best programming techniques. The team needs to get along to the point of knowing how to split tasks, know how to identify and prioritize the right problems, know how to listen to teammates and discuss ideas in a healthy way.

Thus, the participation of programmers in this type of competition prepares them, in a playful way, for different real life scenarios. Every technology company seeks not only technical preparation in its professionals, but also many of the so-called soft skills, which are overdeveloped in events such as the Marathon. The professional history of competitors from previous editions proves how much this competition adds to the professional future of its participants, given that most of them are employed in the largest technology companies in the world. Furthermore, the companies themselves look for former marathon competitors, knowing that the preparation that this event brings to them is a highlight.

In addition to all these technical benefits, participating in competitive programming events is also extremely fun for those who love solving challenges! On the days when the competition takes place, the immersion in this world is complete, as you will be in an environment where 100% of the people share the same tastes for challenges and, thus, the competitors feel part of a community. Such a community is very strong, where bonds of friendship are created that spread throughout the country. It is very common for competitors to meet other people and start exchanging contacts to maintain study groups or even just for fun after the event. Several parallel events to the official competitions (such as winter and summer schools to prepare for the competition) are developed by groups that were formed through the contact started during the competitions.

Interested in being part of this community? Talk to the professors at your institution and ask them to spread the word and sign up a team! Registration for the regional phase of the SBC Programming Marathon (which qualifies for the national final that is taking place this weekend) normally opens in July/August, with the first phase taking place in September. While the official competition doesn't take place, organize your team and train with beecrowd problems!

This year, beecrowd is the official sponsor of the final of the Programming Marathon (Latin American qualifier for the world final) and will mirror the competition on the same date as the official contest. This means that if you were left out of the finals, you can try to solve the same problems that ranked teams will solve in Gramado.

On our website, the mirror contest will start on Saturday, April 2nd, one hour after the start of the official contest. The forecast is that the mirror contest will then start on Apr 2nd at 6:00pm (UTC) (equivalent to Apr 2nd at 3:00pm Brasilia; Apr 3rd at 12:00am Dhaka), will last 5 hours and all problems will be in the English.

The mirror contest is now available on the beecrowd portal, just access HERE, and click JOIN to register (if you already have a beecrowd account). If not, create your account to be able to sign up too! Don't miss this opportunity to compete!

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Jessica Dagostini is a Principal System Architect at beecrowd. She has a Masters in Computer Science from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and has had the opportunity to participate in Programming Marathons around Latin America.

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