ICPC – Programming Contest – It’s just the beginning!

Hi my readers, I hope you’re doing well. It’s been roughly 3 months since my last post. This is because I was busy with my study, work and volunteering activity. However, there are many things I want to share with you after the busy period. It means that I will publish many posts from now onwards.

The first thing I can’t wait to share with you is my experience in the first programming contest in Melbourne I attended last week with my talented friends. In this post, I will cover 3 things below.

  • Introduction to the contest
  • What I have experienced from the contest
  • Motivation

1. Introduction to the contest

The International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) is an algorithmic programming contest for college students. This is one of the most famous programming contests around the world. The contest is separated into many regionals. The one, I and my team attended, is called South Pacific Region Programming Contest, which is part of the ICPC. We competed with 74 teams from different universities across Australia and New Zealand.

In my opinion, the contest is a good chance for everyone who is interested in programming and algorithm to practice and learn from other talented people. Furthermore, practicing the contest is also a good way to improve problem-solving skills and to learn how to crack the coding interview from large tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, IBM, etc. If you are a programmer, I highly recommend you to give it a try next year.

2. What I have experienced from the contest

While two top-ranking universities in Melbourne – University of Melbourne and Monash University – and many top-ranking universities across Australia and New Zealand have classes or a club for algorithmic programming, most of the other universities do not have one – including my university (Swinburne University). As a result, I’m very proud of my team and myself when attending this contest.

After 6 weeks of self-training with many different emotions and being learned many things, a team of 3 dreamers made a difference. For many people, 6-weeks-time maybe not something that is special. However, it was a great time for us to learn together, to share each piece of knowledge and to experience the most unforgettable moment as an undergraduate international student in Melbourne. The group was found by a team member – his name is Chuong – at the end of July and we started in the first week of August. Another group member is Linh – he’s in his last year of pursuing the Bachelor of ICT degree. We started from the very basic thing of programming in the first few weeks and then speeded up the progress in the last few weeks. Honestly, the first few weeks were a difficult period for us to understand each other and to come up with learning strategies for the contest. This is because it is the first time I and Linh attended the programming contest. However, we quickly adapted with the self-training and started working as a team to solve many problems on LeetCode and Codeforces. How could we do that? We communicated with each other more than usual in either training time or dinner time. Especially, we shared our experiences with each other and help each other to understand a very specific thing. We started understanding each other after 2 ANZAC rounds – which are the practice rounds of the contest. I remember my saddest time in these 6 weeks was the night after the first ANZAC round – 24/9/2019 (White Night in Melbourne). This is because I did not solve many problems in the practice contest and I felt like there was a long time ahead for us to compete with other universities. Even I hung out with my friends that night, I did not talk much because I was still thinking of the practice contest. In the next self-training time, we encouraged each other to get the inspiration back. The happiest moment was neither after the second ANZAC round nor after the competition but was the last week of the self-training session. We committed our time together every single day of the week in doing as much virtual contests as possible. We felt the enthusiasm in each other. As a result, the day before the contest I felt like we were actually ready for the contest. Finally, we stood at the 29th spot (out of 74 teams) in the contest, comparing to all teams across Australia and New Zealand. Comparing to 20 teams in the Victoria state, we stood at the 9th spot. Although this was not a high ranking in the scoreboard, we are proud of what we did as well as our impact in 6 weeks. Even the contest for this year ended, it’s just the beginning for a group of dreamers who make a difference and create the influence. We’ll be back next year and aim for the world finals.

3. Motivation

Instead of telling what I learned from the contest and from my team talented members – which are unimaginable without experiencing, I’m going share with you some motivated quotes which make me remind what I have experienced and learned from the contest.

“Your abilities cannot be represented by the school or the university you’re studying, but yourself.”

“Don’t compare yourself with other people. Even you’re smart or talented, there are always lots of people who smarter and more talented than you. Looking back at yourself last 6 months or even yesterday and asking yourself how well you are improving.”

“It’s real if you put in the effort!”

“If you don’t try, you never know.”

“Your achievement is not more important than how you achieve it.”

These are most of the things I want to share with you, regarding my first programming contest in Melbourne. Hopefully, this post will motivate you to pursue your choice. If you are a programmer in Melbourne, I hope to see your team in the ICPC contest next year.

Thank you for reading.

2 thoughts on “ICPC – Programming Contest – It’s just the beginning!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Long time no see you Hung . I’m really astonished what you did in ICPC . I truly congratulate on your team . I hope to see you soon in VietNam to share about living and studying abroad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Du says:

      Hi there,

      Thank you so much! I will be in Vietnam this December. If there is a chance, please drop me a message via my social media or email. So, I can know more about you and we can arrange the meetup.


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