The regional events
The regional event tests are intended to test the capability of candidates to solve algorithmic problems but also to implement theirs solution on a machine, in the programming language they prefer. This is also an opportunity for candidates to meet other enthusiasts, and for the organizers to relate their experience, to help them progress.
The 200 to 300 selected candidates are divided into different regional events, which take place in multiple sessions from mid-January, in the following French cities: Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Lille, Toulon, Louvain-la-Neuve and Bordeaux.
The three tests
The written exam
The written exam lasts three hours. The test consists of a series of five or six questions around a common theme. These questions of increasing difficulty guide the contestant in the stages of resolution of an algorithmic problem. The first exercices focus on modeling the problem and are here to check that the candidate masters the basic principles of algorithms, and the next exercises require the contestant to code effective algorithms for harder problems.
The interview lasts between ten and twenty minutes. It is a way for us to meet individually every contestant, test their knowledge, learn about the personal projects he works on, while giving him advices to improve.
The practical test
The practical test lasts four hours. Every contestant works on algorithmic exercises on a computer. A judging program evaluates the code submissions of the contestant. The goal of this test is to check that the contestant is able to code a program on a computer (choose an algorithm, implement it in a programming language, test it and debug it).
All these tests are individual. No other documents than those given by Prologin are authorized.
The typical course of a regional event day
The contestants are welcomed at 8h30 AM, and meet together while having a free breakfast provided by Prologin. The written exam takes place between 9 AM and 12 AM, during which they also have an interview with a Prologin organizer.
Before or during the lunch, also provided by Prologin, the organizers present a quick correction of some of the problems the candidates have just worked on.
The day continues with the practical test, which lasts four hours, and ends at 5:30 PM.
The exam submissions are marked according to the validity and the efficiency of the proposed algorithms. The syntax of the languages used and other similar aspects are not taken in account, as they are already needed for the coding exercises.
After the interview, a grade is also given according to various criteria.
The grade of the practical test is attributed automatically by the juding system, according to the number of solved exercises, the number of tries to achieve that, and the time spent on each exercise before a correct solution was found.
The final ranking, after which a hundred contestants are selected, is obtained from these three grades.
The regional events are spread over several weekends, during which between one to three regional events take place in different locations.
A team of at least three Prologin members is dedicated to the logistics of each event, to prepare the equipment, welcome the contestants, monitor the tests, take care of the food and assist the contestants during the practical test.
All the exam centers where the regional events take place provide us with the computer equipment and the classrooms needed, and we are very grateful to them for their help.