The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) provides college students with opportunities to interact with students from other universities and to sharpen and demonstrate their problem-solving, programming, and teamwork skills. The contest provides a platform for ACM, industry, and academia to encourage and focus public attention on the next generation of computing professionals as they pursue excellence.
The contest is a two-tiered competition among teams of students representing institutions of higher education. Teams first compete in regional contests held around the world from September to November each year. The winning team from each regional contest qualifies to advance to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, typically held the following March to mid-April. Additional high-ranking teams may be invited to the World Finals as wild card teams.
The ICPC International Steering Committee is responsible for establishing contest rules, policy and guidelines. They oversee the conducting of regional contests, resolve regional appeals, rule on international issues, recommend ways to make the contest accessible and attractive to international participants and review variances in regional rules. There are two standing subcommittees, the Appeals Committee and the Eligibility Committee.
The ICPC is organized according to the ICPC Policies and Procedures. For each regional contest, the Regional Contest Director (RCD) is charged with executing a regional contest in accordance with the regional rules and ICPC policies, procedures, and guidelines. Regional rules may vary to accommodate differences in educational systems and host computing facilities. Additional rules, exceptions, and other information pertaining to a specific regional contest can be found at the Regionals Contest Website. Those rules do not supersede these rules or the World Finals rules.
The language of the Contest is English. All written contest materials will be in English. Additional languages may be used in regional contests. Terms which have undefined or different meanings outside the United States must be defined or redefined appropriately in that region's Region-Specific Rules. Rules may vary at the regional level to accommodate these differences.
A representative of the sponsoring institution of higher education, typically a faculty member, must serve as or designate the team coach. The coach certifies the eligibility of contestants and serves as the official point-of-contact with the team prior to and during contest activities. A team may only have one coach.
The coach must fully register teams in the ICPC Registration System within the time set by the regional rules which, for all Regional Contests, is no later than the earlier date of 7 days before the contest and November 8. 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. 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.
Each team consists of three contestants who are eligible to compete in the ICPC World Finals as described under Advancing to the World Finals. The team's contestants must satisfy the following eligibility rules.
Please refer to the Eligibility Decision Tree to more easily determine eligibility
Each team is expected to compete only within its defined region. However, a team with a valid reason (e.g. driving distance) may request to compete in a different region for a given year. The team coach must submit such a request to the Director of Regional Contests (DRC), who will approve the request only if the decision is unanimous among all affected Directors.
An institution may send contestants to only one regional contest in a given year.
All team members must attend all contest activities as specified by the regional contest director for that region. The coach is expected to attend or be available by phone during contest activities. Failure to attend any of the designated contest events will result in automatic disqualification and forfeiture of any scholarships and prizes.
Solutions to problems submitted for judging are called runs. Each run is judged as accepted or rejected by a judge, and the team is notified of the results.
Notification of accepted runs may be suspended at an appropriate time to keep the final results secret. A general announcement to that effect will be made during the contest. Notification of rejected runs will continue until the end of the contest.
A contestant may submit a claim of ambiguity or error in a problem statement by submitting a clarification request to a judge. If the judges agree that an ambiguity or error exists, a clarification will be issued to all contestants.
Contestants are not to converse with anyone except members of their team and personnel designated by the regional contest director. Systems support staff may advise contestants on system-related problems such as explaining system error messages.
While the contest is scheduled for a particular time length (typically five hours), the regional contest director has the authority to alter the length of the contest in the event of unforeseen difficulties. Should the contest duration be altered, every attempt will be made to notify contestants in a timely and uniform manner.
A team may be disqualified by the regional contest director for any activity that jeopardizes the contest such as dislodging extension cords, unauthorized modification of contest materials, or distracting behavior.
At least six problems will be posed. So far as possible, problems will avoid dependence on detailed knowledge of a particular applications area or particular contest language.
A problem is solved when it is accepted by the judges. The judges are solely responsible for accepting or rejecting submitted runs. In consultation with the judges, the Regional Contest Director determines the winners of the regional contest. The regional contest director and judges are empowered to adjust for or adjudicate unforeseen events and conditions. Their decisions are final.
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.
It is the responsibility of the Regional Contest Director to specify any additional tie-breakers. Tie-breaker policies must be announced to contestants before the contest begins.
The programming languages of the regional contest will include C/C++. Additional programming languages may be used. The programming languages of the World Finals are Java and C/C++. Prior to the World Finals, the judges will have solved all problems in Java and C/C++.
Each team will use a single workstation. The regional contest director is responsible for determining that teams have reasonably equivalent computing resources.
Each Regional Contest Director determines whether contestants may bring materials for use during the contest. Please see the specific regional rules at the ICPC Regional Contest Web Site - regionals. At the World Finals, no printed materials or electronic devices may be brought into the contest area. On-line reference materials will be made available as described at the ICPC World Finals Reference Materials Site. Each team will be permitted to provide a PDF of up to 25 pages of notes within the limits described during Team Certification. Three copies will be printed and placed at the team's workstation for use during the World Finals.
If irregularities or misconduct are observed during the contest, team members or coaches should bring them to the attention of the contest officials so that action may be taken as soon as possible. After the conclusion of the contest and the results have been made public, coaches may file complaints or appeals as follows:
This process is governed as follows:
The appeal will be automatically rejected if the above procedure is not followed.
Teams qualify to advance to the World Finals through Regional Contests and by satisfying all rules posted in The Rules of the ACM-ICPC World Finals. Specifically:
Only one team from a given institution may advance to the World Finals. Team members will be provided free one-year memberships in ACM at On-Site Registration. No team member on the qualifying team may have competed as a contestant in two previous World Finals.
The coach of a qualifying team is the point-of-contact prior to and during World Finals activities. The coach must complete certification at the Team Certification Web Site within five (5) business days of notification. Qualifying teams will be issued an invitation by email and postal mail within one business day of completing certification.
Qualifying teams requiring visas must initiate the process of applying for visas within 10 business days of being issued an invitation. Teams failing to comply with any of these requirements will be ruled ineligible to compete in the World Finals. Upon completion of these requirements, a qualifying team will be advanced to the World Finals.
A team advancing to the World Finals will be comprised of the same three members as when it qualified. In the event that a team member is unwilling, unable or unfit to compete in the World Finals, the coach must notify the ICPC Manager in a timely manner. A team member who is unwilling or unfit to compete in the World Finals will be disqualified from further ICPC competitions. The team member may appeal disqualification to the Appeals Committee.
At on-site registration, participants must provide picture ID (passport, drivers license, etc). Contestants must show proof of enrollment at the university during the term of the regional contest at which they qualified. A letter on university stationary with the signature of a university official accompanied by an English translation is sufficient.