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Morocco! (3) February 11, 2007

Posted by Khawarizmiya in ACM, memoir, recovered from blogspot.
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Al-akhwayn University of Ifrane

December 2nd, 2006

Around 8:00 AM my mobile alarm went on, I opened my eyes, looked at the ceiling.. why is it triangle-shaped? This looks nothing like our ceiling back home..oh ok ok this is Ifrane and today is the Competition..

Competition! Had this word been said in different circumstances, its effect on me would have been different. At that time, I was feeling incredibly at ease, it was ironic. As our expectations regarding our performance were very low, we had no reason to be worried about the competition. When we reachedAlakhwayn University, we had to wait about an hour outside the rooms..we took tens of pictures all around the place –again-, the view was beautiful. Oh before that they took us to some hall where we waited for a while. One of the female volunteers of AUI came to us, girls. She introduced herself and told us that she supports us, for the being a team of girls there, and that although she is not wearing a head scarf (Hijab), she admires and likes the fact that the three of us are veiled. I was so happy to hear that, “Alhamdulellah” I thought to myself; the idea of making the Islamic outfit look appealing to other people was very pleasing, I thought of it as a blessing.

So after waiting forever, they decided that its time. I didn’t like our table, it was just in the middle and at the rear right, where all the volunteers and supervisors are observing. “Yaah whatever, as if that’s our biggest problem right now..”.

5 4 3 2 1 0.. Start. We opened the Envelop.. Well, here we go.
“It’s a BOY..” Naah just kidding.. anyway, I scanned the problems looking for a problem that required String manipulation, the only thing I thought I mastered to a reasonable degree. Unfortunately, I started with the last one: “A-to-Z”. Anyone who has been in the competition knows now that the judges had meant for this problem to be the non-solvable one. Surprisingly we found out later that one team out of the 44 teams did solve it, I think it was one of the AUC teams, Im sure they were Egyptians anyway, and so they should be, Hehehe. So anyway, I wasted so much time trying to solve all the possible cases, that was pretty time consuming, I should’ve noticed its going nowhere. I guess that milky way bar I ate wasn’t sugary enough; my mind wasn’t functioning properly. I’m usually smarter, yeah that’s it.

While I was in the middle of Nowhere, Lama asked me to code something for her. She had come up with a solution to one of the problems. The code consisted of several methods. I put my nice unsolvable problem away –hoping it’ll solve itself- and sat in front of the monitor. She had written down a good part of the code then explained to me wats going on and I coded. I loved coding and typing, if this was a typing contest I would have mastered it (I did get the First rank out of 65 contestants in a typing contest back at university)…Anyway it wasn’t, it was a programming contest, and I loved programming.. What I didn’t love was the “WRONG ANSWER” that came as a judge response.

We went over the methods over and over until Khadige interrupted. She asked us to leave this problem for the time being and code hers. I was confused, didn’t know what to do exactly, I started to smell some tension. Lama was positive about her solution and I was sure the code was ok, we wanted to give it more time but Khadige was determinant. So.. I coded Khadige’s solution, It was “Casting out the Nine”. The big mistake I had done was NOT read either one of the problems I was typing, I totally depended on the explanation I got from lama or khadige, now I know that wasn’t sufficient. We finished coding the problem, tried some test cases. As far as I remember some test cases failed, we examined the code again, fixed some stuff, tried again. After a while all the test cases we tried gave good results. We decided to send it.. tick .. tick .. tick .. “Runtime Error!” Ouch!! I had a mental block, what does that mean? Khadige figured out it must be a problem with the ranges of numbers. Uh-huh..ok how stupid of us, using “Integers”. Anybody who had solved that problem now knows there was no need to read numbers as integers, we should have treated them as strings and manipulated the digits separately. However, that didn’t come to our minds back then. I guess the chairs weren’t comfortable enough, or maybe it’s the chocolates again. Anyway, I replaced any “int” with a “long” thinking that might help. “Runtime Error”.. Ok, It didn’t.

To be Continued..

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