I've participated twice in the European ACM programming
contest (finished one time near the bottom, the other time,
we missed being send to the World finals because while we
made the "cut" (I think the top 6 or top 8 were to be send),
there were too many teams from the same country that finished
before us), and those times, the only allowed language was
I've also organized regional contests in later years (writing
most of the scoring software in AWK - but this was the first
time a Perl book appeared on my desk). From what I remember
from those times (late 80s, early 90s), the most important
aspect in being succesful is terminal time management. You
have 4 team members, 6 to 10 problems, and just one terminal. Another, very important, aspect is being able to
handle the input border cases correctly. It's very frustrating to get your submission rejected time after time
(with no reason or error message other than whether it compiled or not), only to find out the vague wording of
the problem allowed for a different input format than you
were programming for.
It's a bit easy to say "well, if only we were allowed Perl,
then we could have done all the problems with time to spare". That's like saying "if we could make use of a bicycle, we could do the marathon in world record time".
A programming contest that allows for Perl to be used can
be as hard as one that allows C or Pascal. You just have to
adapt the problems. Parsing problems that are tricky to do
right in C or Pascal might be easy in Perl. On the other hand, there's much to say for not allowing Perl. You want
a contest to be 'all-round', so it should problems that
might involve parsing, or searching for strings in a large
set. Using tools that already have solved those problems
is kind of pointless.
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