The Department of Computer Science co-hosted the 2004 ACM Regional Collegiate Programming Contest for the Greater New York Region on November 14th, 2004. Thirty teams with three contestants each were registered to compete at Stevens, with another thirty-two teams at Co-Host Iona College, New Rochelle, NY.
In order to ensure that all contestants at both locations competed in an identical environment, Jan Schaumann of Stevens Institute of Technology developed a bootable NetBSD Live CD providing the contest environment. (Details on the CD configuration and contents can be found here.) The CD contained all the compilers and debuggers (gcc/g++ version 3.3, Sun JDK 1.4.2, GNU Ada version 3.4, GNU gdb version 5.3), a number of common editors (vi, vim, emacs, nedit), the window manager and all standard tools as well as the PC2 Software System, mounting the home directories from a local NFS server.
This approach not only guaranteed equal contest circumstances for teams at both locations, but also allowed us to easily restrict network usage to a private subnet and prevent access to unauthorized devices while at the same time being unobtrusive enough to allow for a short setup and not require modifications to the existing workstations: all that needed to be done was to network the machines appropriately and boot off the CD.
The day before the contest, the Computer Science Lab was closed to get ready for the setup (photos). Adam Florence, Regional Contest Director and one of the ACM Judges, Fred Pickel, helped test the setup and ensure that everything went smoothly as we coordinated all communications (VPN connections for the PC2 software, video conferencing for the coaches meeting, etc.) with the people at Iona.
On November 14th, the contestants registered early in the morning and were allowed to test the setup until 11:00am, before they were then welcomed by Adam Florence in the auditorium. The contest itself started at 12:00, synchronized with Iona College and lasted for exactly 5 hours (photos). During that time, volunteers helped distribute printouts, answer questions, and in general make the whole contest run smoothly.
After five hours, all contestants and their coaches again met in the auditorium to await the final results, as the judges were grading the final submissions. In the end, NYU took first place, Rutgers second, Columbia third and one of Stevens's own teams placed fourth. (See the score board for details.)
Adam Florence and Fred Pickle agreed with John Buck (who managed the contest at Iona College) that everything went very smoothly and everybody was very content with how things had worked out. The ACM has expressed interest in using the NetBSD Live CD in future contests due to the simple and convenient setup it provides.
Jan Schaumann and Brian Moriarty, both System Administrators in the Department of Computer Science and both in charge of organizing the entire event at Stevens would like to thank the volunteers who helped throughout both days and without whom holding the contest at Stevens would not have been possible. They are (in alphabetical order): Adam Aronson, Ryan Bender, Arup Datta, Lerna Ekmekcioglu, Michael Forde, Michael Gourlay, Brian Henderson, Prashanth Rallapalli Karanam, Bartosz J. Luczynski, Robert Skutinsky.