ACM North Central Americal Regional Programming Contest

NMU did well at the ACM North Central North America Regional Programming Contest on Saturday 8 November 2014 on the campus of Lake Superior State University (Chippewa Co, MI).  This is the 16th consecutive year that NMU has participated in the ACM International Regional Programming Contest.

The world is divided into seven broad areas.  We are in the North America area, which consists of the United States and Canada.  (The other nations residing on the North American continent are part of the Latin America area.)  The North America area is divided into eleven regions.  We are in the North Central North America region which consists of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, the Upper Peninsula (but not the Lower Peninsula) of Michigan, western Ontario, Manitoba, and, presumably, Nunavut.

A programming contest is held for each region, and each of these contests are held simultaneously at various sites within the region.  Our contest was held at seventeen sites throughout the region.  We competed at the LSSU site.  Traditionally, the competition begins with a qualifying contest at the home university.  However, this year, we were told we could submit five teams and, since only four teams expressed interest in coming, a qualifier was not necessary.

There were 23 teams registered at the LSSU site, representing the following four schools:

  • Lake Superior State University (LSSU)
  • Michigan Technological University (MTU)
  • Northern Michigan University (NMU)
  • Algoma University

Within the entire region, there were 290 teams registered representing a veritable plethora of schools (about 67) across the region!  The contest consists of nine programming problems to be solved in a five-hour period.  The winning team is the one that solves the most problems, with ties broken in favor of the teams that solved them more quickly after factoring in penalties for incorrect submissions.

NMU Team Results
Team # Correct Problems Region Rank Site Rank
Sakura Meikyuu
Larry J. Flint
Matthew P. Menze
Dean M. Savard
3 76th 3rd
The NMU Exceptions
Micah J. Argeropoulos
Benjamin H. Harris
Matthew E. Trefilek
2 151st 15th
Easier Than High School
Gabriel V. Appleton
Jesse T. Cecchini
Dallas A. Johnson
1 157th 16th


Site Team Results
Team # Correct Problems

Site Rank

Region Rank
3 1st 54th
Sakura Meikyuu
3 3rd 76th
Will Code For Food
2 7th 120th
Bits Please
Algoma University
2 9th 132nd
The NMU Exceptions
2 15th 151st
Easier Than High School
1 16th 157th


Do You Even PSPACE? 
University of Wisconsin - Madison 
Nine problems correct

There were two other teams that correctly answered all nine problems:

  • Run Length Encoding from Iowa State University (second in region; nine problems correct).
  • Benchwarmers from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (third in region; nine problems correct).

The regional winner will head to the World Finals, held this year in Morocco, and possibly Run Length Encoding or Benchwarmers will draw a wild card to that event as well.

The LSSU site was relatively low performing compared to the region overall.  No one at the LSSU site correctly solved more than three--and NMU produced one of the teams that solved three--but there were three teams across the region that solved nine, one that solved eight, four that solved seven, six that solved six, fifteen that solved five, and twenty-three that solved four.  Additionally, the winning team solved its ninth problem with an hour and a half to go in the contest!  This suggests that perhaps the problems were easier than they were in previous years.  This is the second time that LSSU has used an electronic submission and grading system.  In the past, they have used human runners to take submissions to the judges just as we do at our event.  However, to accomplish this, LSSU had to set up a private network, which meant that there were Ethernet cables and routers all over the place and which also meant that they couldn't host as many teams as they have in the past.  The contest, however, was run very smoothly.  This was Assistant Professor Christopher Smith's first time as event chair, and he did a fantastic job!  Associate Professor Evan Schemm graded all the problems.

The NCNA contest was organized by  Charles Riedesel, Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Nebraska - Lincoln (Lancaster Co, NE), and the Executive Director of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is William B. Poucher, Professor of Computer Science, Baylor University (McLennan Co, TX).