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Why do I go to the ACM-ICPC World Finals?

June 17th, 2013

By Ivan Romanov, Guest Writer

We are thrilled to share the ACM-ICPC success story of Ivan Romanov, who has leveraged his experiences at the contest to expand his professional network, portfolio of work, and more. Here's Ivan's take on why he's attended the World Finals five times.

I have been to the ACM-ICPC World Finals five times already, and never in the same role. I'm going to share with you my reasons for visiting this event over and over again and my different roles each time.

My first time at the World Finals was back in 2002. At that time teams at World Finals were allowed to have on-site reserve participants with them, and I was honoured to accompany the first-ever team from Saratov State University that made it to the Finals held in Hawaii, USA. That was a legendary team of Ilya Elterman, Andrew Lazarev and Mike Mirzayanov, named Saratov SU#3. They became European Champions, won silver medals and became the biggest sensation and surprise of that Finals.

More than three years passed before my team qualified for the World Finals. It was our very last chance to show a good performance, since me and my teammates Roman Alekseenkov and Igor Kulkin were reaching the maximum age for ACM-ICPC participants. Luckily, we used that chance fully. Instead of describing the emotions, I'll just show you the picture from the 30th Finals hosted by Baylor University.

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After graduating I led the development of Code Game Challenge - a fun competition that we first hosted during Saratov Subregional contest 2006. Mike Mirzayanov and I were cordially invited to the Finals 2008 in Banff, Canada, to present the Code Game Challenge at the Competitive Learning Institute (CLI) led by Bill Booth. I'm happy that many years later, the game strategy for 2013 ICPC Challenge has been developed by the team from my University.

People whom you meet at the World Finals make visiting the event a really great and rewarding experience. Here is Roman Elizarov, World Finals 2013 Director, in Banff in 2008.

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Winning the ACM-ICPC World Finals in 2006 gave me a great opportunity to work for IBM. As a part of IBM TechTrek team I was pleased to showcase two technologies developed at IBM Zürich research lab. That was in 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden, and it was again a completely new role for me at Finals.

In 2012 in Warsaw, Poland, I tried a new role of being a spectator at the World Finals. Every role has its pros and cons. Being just a spectator, I slept in the cheapest hostel next to the contestants' luxury hotels, but for that I enjoyed more freedom there. I also enjoyed ACM-ICPC events becoming more and more spectacular.

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For me, it's really easy to remember when St. Petersburg NRU ITMO became World Champions over the past six years. ITMO always won during my last three visits (2008, 2009, 2012) and never won when I could not come to the World Finals (2007, 2010, 2011).

This year's World Finals takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia. It's not a question of whether I go or not, but which role should I try this time?