March 22, 2017 Next for the Algorithm Track: Automatic Berths

Automatic berths, a.k.a. byes, are the very first thing of interest happening in Algorithm Competition. Similarly to certain sports that grant automatic bids to a tournament based on prior performance, the Algorithm track of Topcoder Open allows the 250 highest rated members to skip Stage 1 and advance directly to Stage 2. To be eligible for a bye, members must have competed in a rated SRM in 2017 and have at least in 3 rated events total.
In the past, the rating required for getting a bye fluctuated between 1900 and 2200, depending on the number of byes awarded and overall community activity.

Year Byes # Cutoff rating
2016 250 1917
2015 250 2005
2014 251 1991
2013 200 2079
2012 202 2138
2011 200 2145
2010 200 2064

This year, the byes will be calculated based on ratings as of March 31st, or equivalently after SRM 711 (happening on March 25, 2017) which will be the last rated event before the TCO.
I spent some time playing with Advanced Member Search tool (the best thing ever for a blogger too lazy to grab Topcoder data feeds and do their own data crunching), to get a feel for this year’s cutoff rating. If nothing changes, cutoff will be in the low 1700s – there are 282 members who have a rating 1720+, have been active in the past 3 months, and have participated in at least 3 rated events, but for 32 of them the last event was SRM 704 in December 2016 which doesn’t count for the byes. This might be the all-time low rating for getting a bye – I’d be eligible for it myself if my last event was later than 2015.
But of course SRM 711 can change things a lot – there are over 2500 total members rated 1720+, and any number of them can show up and compete for the spots if they want. On one hand, once you have a bye you don’t have to participate in any of Stage 1 rounds – which is nice if 12:00 p.m. UTC -4 is not a good time for you, or you simply have plans for Saturdays in April and May. On the other hand, once you have a bye you can’t participate in any of Stage 1 rounds – which is not so nice if you would like to warm up on some easier problems and brush up your challenge skills before the main competition.
Let’s wait and see how close my prediction will be to the truth!


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