The Osijek competitive programming camp (also see the announcement on Codeforces) just concluded last Sunday, on February 26, and I'd like to write this blog post as a wrap to this winter's iteration of the camp. Overall, 74 teams joined the camp, and 13 of them attended the camp onsite in Osijek. Tähvend (-is-this-fft-) and I (adamant), as organizers, were also there!
The camp consisted of 7 contests, and 2 days off. On the first day off, the onsite participants had an opportunity to go to bowling, and on the second day off, to play paintball (see the photos). As for the contests, two of them were shared with the Universal Cup, so that our participants didn't have to choose what to attend between the camp contests and the UniCup. On top of that, three other contests will be used in the Universal Cup for later stages. Here is a brief contest summary:
|antontrygubO_o||Day 1: Anton Trygub Contest||scoreboard||Stage 4: Ukraine|
|adamant, fedimser||Day 2: Oleksandr Kulkov Contest 3||scoreboard||Zaporizhia stage|
|rivalq||Day 4: Jatin Garg Contest||scoreboard||—|
|Adam_GS, ToxicPie9||Day 5: Adam Gąsienica-Samek Contest||scoreboard||—|
|amiya||Day 6: Yuhao Du Contest 11||scoreboard||Zhejiang stage|
|conqueror_of_tourist||Day 8: Dilhan Salgado Contest||scoreboard||Stage 5: Osijek|
|Snow-Flower||Day 9: Magical Story of LaLa||scoreboard||Ranoa stage|
- HoMaMaOvO (maroonrk, hos.lyric, maspy)
- University of Warsaw: Polish Mafia (Swistakk, Radewoosh, mnbvmar)
- Kyoto University: Heno World (heno239, yamunaku, Moririn2528)
And also to the top onsite teams (by ITMO score):
- University of Oxford: nwerc is bad (Ronnie007, gamegame, Sorting)
- University of Zagreb: Zagreb (dorijanlendvaj, keko37, ppavic)
- School No. 14 in Wrocław + School No. 8 in Warsaw: PokorFanClub (kamilszymczak1, Rafi22, surgutti)
I can't express enough how happy I am that the idea worked out, and we gathered so many cool people to participate in this! I'm very optimistic towards the idea of conducting it again sometime, and as such I wanted to make an announcement:
Call for problemsetters
We're looking for problemsetters for the next iteration of the camp!
Specific dates are to be announced later on, but you may express your interest by filling in this form, and we will contact you. Once the camp is conducted, we will offer you a monetary compensation (expected to be 1000+€, depending on whether we're successful with finding sponsors and attracting participants for the next iteration), and also fully waive the participation fees for you and your team if you want to attend the rest of the camp. Moreover, you can use your author compensation to sponsor participants who would like to attend the camp. In this case, the participants in question will get a 30% discount from their fees!
Feedback and our responses
Now, that being said, I'd like to use this opportunity to reply to some feedback that we received and explain our perspective a bit more, and also tell more about how we're going to address it. Here are the key points:
A lot of contests are used in the Universal Cup
To begin with, I'd like to explain a bit more on what happened here. Initially, our idea was to share 2 contests with Universal Cup, so that our participants do not have to choose between participating in the camp, and participating in the Universal Cup contests. Then, some of our authors (well, myself included) also expressed interest in offering their contests to the Universal Cup, as we all really love this initiative and want to support it, and, of course, would also love to get more exposure to the content that we create.
So, we ended up proposing 3 more contests to the Universal Cup, and I see that it was somewhat upsetting to some of our participants, as they paid the participation fees expecting an exclusive experience, but could have participated in the contests during the Universal Cup instead. Here are the main reasons why I felt like allowing the contests to be used in the Universal Cup is okay:
- Most of the contests are original, and were prepared specifically for the camp. Major part of the fees is going towards authors compensation, and it is likely that the contests would not exist as they are, if not for the camp;
- I feel like it is generally better if, after being used for their main purpose, the contests are made public, rather than if they just rot away in the author's Polygon, as it serves the competitive programming community as a whole;
- Other camps typically do not restrict authors from re-using the contests. People often publish their contests to gym right after Ptz (or after a silence window, if they're re-used in OpenCup or other camps), and most of the contests are also published to opentrains;
- It is generally good for the camp, especially right after it is established, to get more exposure to the community, so that people could better understand what contest difficulty and quality they should expect in the next iterations;
But making people feel upset or deceived because of the re-used contests is totally not something we intended, and I apologize to anyone who may feel this way as a result. It wasn't planned in advance that so much contests would be re-used so soon, and I feel that we failed to be transparent or considerate enough about it.
I see several options on how it can be improved for future iterations, such as, for example, making some stricter regulations on how many contests can be shared with major competitions like UniCup, or establishing a longer silence window before they can be published. I don't have a concrete decision here yet, but what I can promise is that our policies in this regard will be clear, transparent and upfront for future iterations of the camp.
Issues with eolymp
We got a lot of feedback regarding our judging system, eolymp. The system is, indeed, a bit raw at the moment, as, to my knowledge, it's only in the beta as a service for external competitions. Nevertheless, I have a very positive and optimistic outlook for the system, as the eolymp team was very helpful and responsive to any questions that we had during the contests.
We have collected all the feedback from participants regarding the system, and shared it with the eolymp team, so I hope that all or the vast majority of issues would be resolved by the next iteration of the camp.
Quality of the contests
Some of participants mentioned that, as contests are mostly prepared by a single author, the style of each contest affects the overall algorithmic topics of the problems within a contest too much, making the contests a bit unbalanced. Another piece if feedback was that there was a bit too much of math problems.
While I think that it is important to train on contests of different styles (and different biases towards some topics), I generally agree that almost every contest had such bias, and many of them were skewed towards mathematics, so we will try to diversify a bit contest authors used within some of the contests for future iterations. Thanks for the feedback!
Quality of the editorials
A lot of feedback mentioned that some editorials were difficult to understand due to being hard to follow, or using references to some advanced techniques, or sometimes even research papers. There were also mentions of technical issues.
As for the technical issues, it was quite hard to avoid them, given that it's the first time we're having such experience. Surely, we know much more about how editorials can be organized now, and it should also warrant less technical issues. As for improving editorials in general, we got a lot of feedback that we should provide more explanation for harder problems and the referenced techniques, and should use more slides, as the participants seemed to really like hand-drawn slides by -is-this-fft-. Duly noted, we will communicate this to our authors in the future iterations, and also try our best to explain more when we're making analyses onsite!
When we announced the camp, we have only offered discounts to Ukrainian teams, and the teams that are skipping some of the contests. While reaching out to participants globally, we got a lot of requests for a discount, which we had to decline, as we did not plan for it originally, and felt like it wouldn't be fair to offer discounts beyond what was initially announced publicly.
However, we recognize that there is a significant difference in global markets which make it especially hard for participants from some regions to participate. For the next iteration of the camp, we will consider what we can do to make the camp more accessible to people from troubled regions (possibly, with merit-based criteria). I apologize to those whom we couldn't provide this opportunity for this iteration. Perhaps, you may participate in some of the contests virtually, as significant amount of them is mirrored in the Universal Cup now?
Intersection with SWERC
Unfortunately, we were not able to schedule the camp in a way that would allow us to avoid the intersection with SWERC. We had very small window for scheduling the camp, as moving the dates further would overlap with the studies at the university, and moving it earlier would overlap with the Petrozavodsk camp, and leave our participants too little time to make a decision on whether they want to attend.
Ultimately, we scheduled the camp in a way that it only intersects with SWERC on first few days, and suggesting SWERC teams to participate partially (with appropriate discounts). It seems that it was still a very inconvenient option for them, as only 2 teams decided to attend (online). We will try our best to schedule the camp better next time, to avoid such overlaps.
To end on a bright note, we're looking forward to future iterations of the camp, and will do our best to make them better :)