PSCSTA Competition


On December 12, last Saturday, I was a member of one of the five teams from Liberty High School to attend the PSCSTA programming competition. All five teams had a blast, and we managed to place 5th in the Novice category with 710 out of 720 available points. You can view our code here.

Overall, the competition was a blast. 129 teams of 1-3 people sat together in a room and coded for three straight hours. The energy was high, the pizza and drinks were plentiful, and the code was bountiful. If you love to code, this competition is where you want to be.

I am less happy about our personal outcome at the competition. We got the 3rd-highest possible score (710/720; 98.6%!), but still didn't rank in the top 5. The top 5 teams got 720/720, 715/720, 715/720, 710/720, and 710/720 (this is us). The tiebreaker was by time, and the other 710-er finished before us.

The worst part was how easy it would have been to raise our place. We only missed points on one question, and we did because the judge's test cases contained a case that wasn't in the test data. If we had recognized the issue first, or rewritten the attempt after one failure rather than two, we would have gotten 715. We finished before the 2nd- and 3rd-place teams, so we would have taken 2nd.

However, the lesson we took away from that problem was to always add values that create edge cases to the given data, to make sure that all of the possible cases are covered. This saved a multitude of points on other problems, so we did benefit in the long run.

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We're still salty, though.