We examine the precision with which the cumulative score from a suite of test cases ranks participants in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). Our concern is the ability of these scores to reflect achievement at all levels, as opposed to reflecting chance or arbitrary factors involved in composing the test suite. Test cases are assumed to be drawn from an infinite population of similar cases; variance in standardized rank is estimated by the bootstrap method and used to compute confidence intervals which contain the hypothetical true ranking with 95% probability. We examine the relative contribution of easy (so-called fifty-percent rule) cases and hard cases to the overall ranking. Empirical results based on IOI 2005 suggest that easy and hard cases are both material to the ranking, but the proportion of each is unimportant.
We identify aspects of computing competition formats as they relate to the purpose of these competitions, both stated and tacit. We consider the major international competitions - the International Olympiad for Informatics, the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, and top coder - and related contests whose format merits consideration. We consider the operational impact and possible outcomes of incorporating several of these aspects into scholastic competitions. We advocate, in particular, that contests be designed so as to provide a rewarding experience and opportunity for achievement for all competitors; not just the winners. Specific contest elements that should be considered are: (1) real-time scoring and feedback, (2) rewards for testing and test case creation, (3) tasks with graduated difficulty, (4) collaborative tasks, (5) practice contests and entry-level contests for novices, and (6) inclusion of spectators.
Computers, information and communication technology (ICT) are more and more involved in the education process. Students should learn to use information technologies (IT) in a suitable, effective way, and when learning any subject they should be capable to implement computer facilities and thus develop their learning methods. Competitions are an excellent tool to achieve these goals. Competitions play an important role as a source of inspiration and innovation - youngsters are attracted by competitions, they get easier involved in such an activity, more willingly discuss and become more active. IT contests may be a key to the potential of new knowledge and an attractive way of binding up technology and education.
Interest in competitions essentially depends on problems. Really, choosing and developing interesting tasks (problems) is one of the most important issues bringing students into competitions. Attraction, invention, tricks, surprise should be desirable features of each problem presented to competitors. The problems have to be carefully selected, taking into account the different aspects of each problem. IT competitions should encourage students to think about computer science and to understand what it can be.
Introduction to computers, learning by using ICT are the actions aimed at solution and analysis of particular problems. Before starting IT competitions, tasks must be planned very carefully and based on some theoretical analysis. The main attention is paid to develop some criteria for creating as well as selecting tasks.
The history of the Lithuanian IT competition named ''Beaver'' started on October 21, 2004. Approximately 3500 students from about 150 comprehensive schools were involved in it. Afterwards, the workshop of participants from several foreign countries was held and building of a framework of the international ``Beaver'' competition was started. The paper deals with theoretical and practical issues of developing new kinds of competition in IT in Lithuania, called ``Beaver''.
Individuals vary across many dimensions due to the effects of gender-based, personality, and cultural differences. Consequently, programming contests with a limited and restrictive structure (e.g., scoring system, questioning style) are most favourable and attractive to a specific set of individuals with the characteristics that best match this structure. We suggest that a more inclusive and flexible structure will allow contests to be more appealing to a wider range of participants by being less biased towards specific traits. As well, by making contests more broadly appealing, they become better post secondary recruiting tools that can potentially be used to attract under-represented populations to the discipline of computer science. In this paper, we focus on gender-based differences and the effect of a competition's structure on female participants.
For many programming tasks we would be glad to have some kind of automatic evaluation process. As an example, most of the programming contests use an automatic evaluation of the contestants' submissions. While this approach is clearly highly efficient, it also has some drawbacks. Often it is the case that the test inputs are not able to ``break'' all flawed submissions. In this article we show that the situation is not pleasant at all - for some programming tasks it is impossible to design good test inputs. Moreover, we discuss some ways how to recognize such tasks, and discuss other possibilities for doing the evaluation. The discussion is focused on programming contests, but the results can be applied for any programming tasks, e.g., assignments in school.
This paper summarizes two studies and the contemporary literature on the design and construction of effective and efficient Computer Based Learning (CBL) environments. There is adequate evidence on Distance Learning environments, however CBL environments provide some special characteristics that separate them from their Distance counterparts, while they have to adhere to educational principles, as they are mainly educational environments. So, firstly these similarities and differences are emphasized under the educational view. Secondly, the contemporary educational research on such environments is provided and the studies made in this area are briefly described. The objective of this paper is to conclude to a set of design and construction guidelines for environments of this kind, as they emerged from the studies and contemporary trends in the field. So, these guidelines are presented and some issues of interest for further research on the domain are discussed.
The scope of the paper is animation facilities of computer algebra systems (CAS). Animation offers opportunities for visualization of complex mathematical concepts, provides convincing demonstration of ideas and influence of quantities or parameters, helps to generate hypothesis, encourages exploration. Animation can be used to demonstrate many mathematical concepts that are difficult to explain verbally or to show with static pictures. Using animation allows students to explore, experiment and visualize mathematics as a dynamic process. But CAS creates only opportunities. The problem remains for users to realize this potential. So features of CAS such as ease of use, convenience of procedures are important for teaching and learning. The paper deals with animation features of the three most popular CAS - Maple, Matlab, Mathcad and their usefulness in education. The results of practical use of the three CAS in teaching animation procedures are discussed and students' opinion about animation tools of CAS is presented.
Plagiarism in universities has always been a difficult problem to overcome. Various tools have been developed over the past few years to help teachers detect plagiarism in students' work. By being able to categorize the multitude of plagiarism detection tools, it is possible to estimate their capabilities, advantages and disadvantages. In this article I consider modern plagiarism software solutions, paying attention mostly to desktop systems intended for plagiarism detection in program code. I also estimate the speed and reliability of different plagiarism detection systems that are currently available.
The paper describes some possible ways how to improve Olympiads in Informatics. Tasks in Olympiads are small models of programming tasks in software industry and in the limited amount of competition time contestants need to complete several software production phases - coding, testing and debugging. Currently, only coding effort is adequately graded, but grading of other activities may be improved. Ways to involve contestants in overall testing process are investigated and ways to improve solution debugging process are described. Possible scoring schemas are discussed. In International Olympiads tasks with real numbers are quite rare. Possible reasons are investigated and a way how to return such tasks back to competition arena is suggested.
The International Olympiad in Informatics currently provides a model which is imitated by the majority of contests for secondary school students in Informatics or Computer Science. However, the IOI model can be criticized, and alternative contest models exist. To support the discussion about contests in Computer Science, several dimensions for characterizing and classifying contests are suggested.