TCO17 Marathon Finals: The countdown started

Topcoder Open Marathon final competition has started at 9 AM EDT today. After 2.5 hours 11 competitors out of 12 finalists have submitted a solution.

Competition will last for 10 hours in total, and participants will have a dinner at their desks, with no break.

You can find the task here. In short, this is a game where you are asked to cover crime areas by police cars. Police cars are moving around orthogonal streets, one unit at a time. Crimes are appearing in regions according to a formula. Additionally, every 50th turn one crime happens in a random place. The game was prepared by Nickolas.

There is a little circle of spectators with marathon background formed around the live monitors, consisting of a trip winner from sponsored matches nofto, algorithm finalist nika, Topcoder problem writer Nickolas and me.

The competition started with some of the participants submitting a slightly modified versions of a base solution provided together with the visualizer. In the next 2 hours the top of the leaderboard was occupied mostly by Psyho, with a short lead by wleite. They both seems to use a variation of a greedy strategy: go to the nearest crime with some random free police car. This is obviously far from optimal solution.

nika said that he would split the task into 2 parts and use coefficients to balance them. Which parts? Try to guess that, I will not disclose this before the end of the contest, as the competitors may read this blog as well.

I noticed that approximately half of the participants use some home-made tools for testing automation. wleite has even GUI for it. These tools allow them to not use excel files for storing the relative scores, and automate the process of maintaining the scores for all the solution versions they had.

At this I will stop, and let you watch the live broadcast at