NCNA Rules

The ACM North Central North America Regional Programming Contest
The North Central North America Regionals of the 41st Annual
ICPC International Collegiate Programming Contest
Saturday, November 3, 2018 at a site near you!

Contest Rules

The rules presented here are ancillary to the general rules of the ACM Regional Programming Contests (which can be found at the ACM ICPC web site).  As such, they provide additional rules, exceptions, and other information pertaining specifically to the North Central North America regional contest.  Additions from the the previous region specific rules are shown in red and deletions are crossed off.

These rules are currently being updated to reflect current practice and the adoption of the Kattis Contest Management System. Status is not yet final, thus the extensive editing being displayed.

Participants, Sites, and Schedule
  1. The ACM North Central North America (NCNA) Regional Programming Contest will be held at several multiple satellite sites distributed throughout the region. The contest will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Contestants will have a period of five hours (11:00 PM to 4:00 PM CST) in which to solve the six or more posed programming problems.
  2. Two meetings will take place at 9:00 AM CST at each Site. At one of these meetings, those team coaches who are serving as judges in attendance will meet to open the sealed package containing the contest problems, the judge's data, and additional specific judging information. This meeting will be supervised by the Site head judge. The team coaches will serve as judges, and will keep (or supervise the keeping of) the local contest records. Schools without a team coach in attendance will have no input in the contest judging decisions; these teams agree to be bound by the judging decisions of the team coaches attending. At sites where judges are provided, coaches will be welcome to observe and assist, as they are able. With the Kattis Contest Management System, record keeping is centralized and preliminary judging is automated. Local judges are therefore freed from much of that responsibility and are instead expected to concentrate on detecting and verifying the flaws in the submissions that are judged as wrong, and to coordinate with the regional head judges as needed.
  3. At the other 9:00 AM meeting the Site staff will be introduced to the teams, and the teams will be allowed to become familiar with the contest environment, site specific policies and procedures, printing procedures, and policies regarding from where their judged runs are to read data and where their judged runs are to produce output (With Kattis it will all be by standard input/output). Teams that do not attend the 9:00 AM meeting are still obligated to be judged using procedures described in that meeting.
  4. Teams and their coaches who are serving as judges (and consequently receive early access to details of the problem set) are to remain separated from the beginning of the 9:00 AM meetings until the end of the contest. All coaches and others not specifically authorized must remain separated from the teams during the contest itself.
  5. Contestants are drawn from the following geographical region: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Western Ontario, Manitoba, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Teams from outside this region may petition the Director of North American Contests for permission to compete in the North Central North America contest.
  6. All team members must attend all contest activities as specified by the Regional Director.
  7. Each school may register multiple teams for the Regional Contest.  These registrations must be made by team coaches using the ACM ICPC web registration system.  A registered team is not eligible to compete until the regional contest director or designated site director has accepted the team in the web registration system.  In order to obtain a contest roster which represents as many different schools as possible, and thus potentially increase the number of teams advancing from the region to the world finals, the regional contest director or site director will accept, no later than seven (7) days before the contest, at least one team from each school registered at a site.  Additional team registrations will be accepted for a site in first-come, first-served order except that coaches registering multiple teams may rank them in the order to be accepted.  Acceptance of teams is contingent on the availability of sufficient resources at the satellite site where the teams are registered.  Schools hosting a satellite site will be given first preference for the acceptance of two teams at their own satellite site.
  8. Each team's coach must fully register teams in the ICPC Registration System. The ICPC Registration System provides for coaches to fully register their teams or to enter sufficient information that the system can contact the team members to complete them. A team is not eligible to compete in the regional contest until the regional contest director has accepted the team in the web registration system (see rule 7, above). Teams failing to comply with any of these requirements will be ruled ineligible to compete. Only registered reserves may be substituted for contestants. Such substitutions must be entered in the ICPC Registration System by the regional contest director before the contest begins.
  9. A fee of US$35 will be charged to teams registering after October 9, 2018. Teams that are accepted and all accompanying coaches, guests, and reserves will be assessed a fee of US$25 per person. Those who initially register after October 9, 2018 will be assessed an additional US$10 late fee. Fees will be collectible following the team being accepted and in advance of the contest to the Regional Contest Director. Online payment by PayPal will be provided, and with prior arrangement, checks can be accepted. The fees will be used to support the regional contest. Site directors reserve the right to waive fees for volunteers accompanying a team.
  1. The Site Director is responsible for all local contest arrangements, including the solicitation of on-site volunteers, procurement of rooms and equipment (including backup systems), and so forth. He or she may not serve as a contest judge. The Site Director is responsible for appointing a Head Judge for the contest site, and will inspect the materials accompanying a team to the contest area to ensure that all items comply with the rules stated in the Contest Procedures section. The Site Director will conduct a meeting with the contestants prior to the start of the contest to reiterate the contest procedures and explain any site-specific policies, and will distribute the official contest results to all teams that participated at their site.
  2. The Site Head Judge is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the local judging effort. He or she will conduct a meeting with the team coaches who are serving as judges, as well as other appointed judges, prior to the contest to officially open the contest materials and discuss the problems. Any suspected ambiguities or errors must be reported to the Regional Contest Director and/or Regional Chief Judges for an immediate ruling. If necessary, the Regional Contest Director will disseminate an appropriate clarification to all sites. The Site Head Judge will explain the judging procedures and work with the team coaches other judges to distribute the contest judging and record-keeping responsibilities.
Conduct of Contest
  1. At least six problems will be posed.
  2. Each Site will establish its own policy regarding the manipulation of the contest data files. Typically, teams will read their own test input files from the same disk that contains the program source. For judging purposes, however, all input operations must read the judges' private data file (on a hard drive, for example). Therefore, contestants may be required to modify their programs when they are submitted for judging. Output will typically be displayed on the screen or written to a new data file. With the Kattis System, all submissions must be in single file source code, and input/output must be standard input/output with no displayed prompts. Each contestant is responsible for understanding the policy in effect at the site where they compete. A general clarification stating the procedure in effect at each site will be issued during the contestant's meeting.
  3. Once the contest begins, all interaction between the teams and the judges will be limited to written communication on Dialogue Request forms. This includes requests for clarification, reports of malfunctioning equipment, and so forth. the Kattis provided clarification system. This includes requests for clarification of problem statements and procedures rules of the contest. Team members must not solicit or accept communication from any person not on their team except the Satellite Site Director and his/her assistant(s), which should include systems personnel who can assist with equipment and system faults as well as orientation to the resources of the system. The Site Director and assistant(s) will be introduced at the 9:00 AM team meeting, and will be appropriately identified during the contest.
  4. Solutions to problems submitted for judging are called runs. Each run is judged as accepted or rejected, and the team is notified by the Kattis system of the results. Rejected runs will be marked with one of the following reasons: run-time error, time-limit exceeded, wrong answer, or presentation error.
  5. A team's coach may request substitution of a registered reserve for a contestant before the contest begins. This request must be communicated to the regional contest director, accepted, and entered in the ICPC Registration System before the contest begins.
  6. The Site Director, the Site Head Judge, and the pool of team coaches presentwith the input of the other judges, serve as the final authority for resolving all local contest matters. Contest issues which may have implications beyond the local site must be referred to the Regional Contest Director and/or Regional Chief Judges immediately for resolution.
  7. Each team must have a faculty advisor coach who is usually a faculty member, but could be staff or volunteer acceptable to the school and capable of performing the associated duties.
  8. The faculty advisor coach is responsible for registering the team to compete at a Site and for certifying that the team meets all eligibility requirements as set forth in these rules and the General Regional Contest Rules. The faculty advisor may choose to designate a different individual to serve as the team representative and point of contact; this representative is called the team coach. The faculty advisor may designate him/herself as the team coach. If two or more teams from the same institution are registered for the contest, a single team coach will suffice.
  9. A public message board will be maintained Kattis maintains a messaging system throughout the contest period. Team members are to check this board system periodically for messages from the contest administration and interim contest results.
  10. A team may submit a claim of ambiguity or error in a problem statement. If the judges determine that an error or ambiguity exists, the Dialogue Request form Kattis message system posts the judges' response. with an appropriate response will be posted on the public message board.
  11. Dialogue Requests Claims which only affect a particular team will be returned directly to the team concerned.
  12. Each run to be judged is submitted using the mechanism specified by the Site Director. Such mechanism will ensure the timely and secure delivery of runs to the judges. The submission will contain: a single program source file (under the name given in the problem statement) and be marked with the time of submission and the identification of the submitting team. The judges will run the submitted program against their test data and either accept the run as correct, or return a reason for its rejection. Kattis system which takes a single source file and runs it against an array of test cases. Correct runs will result in the submitting team receiving an Accepted Run notification which will minimally inform the team of the time consumed by their solution. The source code for accepted runs will not be returned. Rejected runs will result in the team being notified of such failure, and will indicate one of the following messages: run-time error, time-limit exceeded, wrong answer, or presentation error. Rejection reasons are not guaranteed to be complete (nor sufficient) to identify the actual source of the error. Normally, only the first observed error will be noted by the judges for a rejected run. There is interest in standardizing the order in which the causes are reported.
  13. No penalties will be assessed for obtaining printed listings during the contest. Teams are encouraged to make of use of provided printers for listings, testing results, and (authorized) documentation. Local procedures for obtaining a listing will be explained by the Site Director during the meeting with contestants.
  14. It is the responsibility of the contestants to maintain adequate backup copies of their work.
  15. The contest period will end promptly after five hours have elapsed, which ideally should be at 4:00 PM. Final submissions must reach the judges be submitted to Kattis prior to 4:00 PM.
  1. The Contest Judges are solely responsible for accepting or rejecting submitted runs. The Kattis system provides judgements which judges can process. Generally a "Yes" judgement is quickly accepted while a "No" judgement elicits some examination of the code and/or data to determine the problem. In consultation with the Contest Judges, the Chief Judge is responsible for determining the winners of the Contest Finals. They are empowered to adjust for or adjudicate unforeseen events and conditions. Their decisions are final.
  2. All contest results announced immediately following the contest will be marked Unofficial pending adjudication of any appeals as prescribed in the general rules.  If no appeals are filed within one business day of the completion of the contest, the contest results will be marked Official.  If one or more appeals are filed, the results will be marked to indicate appeals are pending .  The results will marked Official only after all appeals have been decided.
  3. The team(s) designated to represent the North Central North America Region at the Contest Finals must come from different schools. Additional teams may be designated to advance to the Contest Finals if one or more wild-card positions are assigned to the North Central North America region.
  4. Should multiple teams from the same school finish in positions which would normally qualify them to advance to the Contest Finals, the next highest ranking team(s) will be selected to advance, subject to Scoring rule 3.
  5. Advancement to the Contest Finals is independent of Regional Contest Division.
  6. [From the general regional contest rules] Teams are ranked according to the most problems solved. For the purposes of awards, or in determining qualifier(s) for the World Finals, teams who solve the same number of problems are ranked by least total time. The total time is the sum of the time consumed for each problem solved. The time consumed for a solved problem is the time elapsed from the beginning of the contest to the submittal of the accepted run plus 20 penalty minutes for every rejected run for that problem regardless of submittal time. There is no time consumed for a problem that is not solved.
  7. Ties will be broken by using the earliest time of submittal of the last accepted run, then of the second to last accepted run, etc.
  8. Periodically during the contest, each Site Director or Site Head Judge will submit a report of the standings at the site to the Regional Contest Director.  This report will include identification of each run judged correct, the teams submitting it, and the time consumed for the run, including penalty minutes (see Scoring rule 6).  This information will be used to update the regional scoreboard which will be provided on the web to all sites. The Kattis system provides for online regional and site scoreboards with automatic updating. The URL will be provided prior to the competition.
Contest Environment
  1. The programming languages of the North Central North America Regional Contest include C, C++, and Java. In addition, Python 2, Python 3, and Kotlin may be offered at some sites. The contest problems will not intentionally be dependent on any features that vary between common implementations of these languages. Libraries that significantly extend the contest languages beyond their traditional definitions are not to be used. Each Site Director is authorized to clarify this point, but contestants may appeal rulings to the Regional Contest Director. Although Python is included as an acceptable language for solutions in the regional contest, contestants should be aware that it will not be available at the contest finals. Further, regional contest sites may choose to not provide facilities for compiling one or more of the regional contest languages or versions thereof at their sites. Judges are not obligated to generate solutions in Python, nor to accommodate the speed and other features/disadvantages of Python. Therefore, teams using Python do so at their own risk. In particular, judges cannot guarantee that solutions employing logic which meets the time constraints when implemented in C/C++/Java will necessarily meet the time constraints when implemented in Python. Note that Python can in some instances be more than 100 times slower! Each Site Director will make this point clear to teams considering participation at that site.
  2. Each team or the team coach is responsible for obtaining information from the Site Director about the contest environment that will be used by the site at which they register to compete. Competing at that site implicitly indicates agreement by the coach and the team members that the environment is acceptable to them. Sites may require teams to supply some material to be used during the contest (e.g. labeled floppy disks on which to place solution submissions or complete computer systems). If such material is required, the Site Director will provide information about it on request, and will verify the acceptability of the material at the contest site.
  3. The Site will provide each team with the use of one suitably equipped computer system or require teams to provide their own systems, access to the contest language environments, and access to the appropriate manual(s). If necessary, teams competing at a particular satellite site may be required to provide a copy of the language systems for their use during the contest. Such software will be subject to examination and qualification or disqualification by the Site Director.
  4. The Site will provide a printing facility that will be shared among the contestants. No printing will be allowed to printers directly connected to team machines, although some sites may use networked printing facilities shared by all teams.
  5. Each team will use a single computer. All teams will have equivalent computing equipment. Equivalent is understood to mean that each computer system and the installed software is sufficient to prepare, test, and submit solutions to the contest problems in a timely manner without experiencing signficant delays that would not also be experienced using any other contest system in use at the same or a diffent contest site. In particular, the term equivalent does not necessarily mean identical.
Amending the Rules
  1. Amendments to these rules may be proposed at any time by individuals or groups affected by them.
  2. Proposed amendments must be presented in the form of specific modifications or additions to these rules.  They must be sent in written form (not e-mail) and signed by the proposer(s), to the Regional Contest Director, except that e-mail will be acceptable from persons in the NCNA Region who are registered with the ICPC.
  3. Proposed amendments that conflict with the general regional contest rules will not be adopted.
  4. Proposed amendments and region-specific contest rules are considered by the NCNA Steering Committee and are subject to approval by the Director of Regional Contests.
Regional Contest Director Charles Riedesel
259 Avery Hall, Computer Science & Engineering
University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0115

Telephone: (402) 472-3486
Fax: (402) 472-7767