Welcome to USACO 2010

This year the USACO will conduct 6 Internet contests, the US Open, plus the week-long USA Invitational Computing Olympiad.  Sixteen students will be invited to Clemson University in June to our annual training program.  There, four students will be chosen to represent the USA at the  22nd IOI  in Waterloo, Canada, August 14-21, 2010.


Internet Contests


The USACO coaching team is proud to announce the schedule and format for the upcoming 2009-2010 pre-college programming contest season.

Most of the hallmarks of the USACO competition remain unchanged:

1. All pre-college students throughout the world with access to the internet are eligible (except cheaters who have been banned).

2. No fees are charged.

3. Contest languages include C, C++, Pascal, and Java.

4. Register at http://ace.delos.com/usacoregister (for both contests and training).

5.Training can be found at http://train.usaco.org.

6.Contests beyond the first-year level are three to five hours in length.

7. Results are widely disseminated and reported on the USACO web site.

8.The 'big prize' is an invitation to the USA Invitational Computing Olympiad in early June 2010.

9.The 'biggest prize' is selection for the four-student USA international traveling team that will represent the USA in
Canada  at the International Olympiad where 75 other countries will also compete in August, 2010. Other travel opportunities might also be available

10. And, finally, cheaters are banned for life.


We continue to run three standard divisions

The elite level with the most difficult challenges. The lowest-level competitors in this division should be able to create a dynamic programming algorithm from scratch (similar to the old Green division).

Just below the Gold division, Silver competitors should know a number of standard computer algorithms (e.g., the flood-fill algorithm). Silver is similar to the old Orange division.

Students who can write programs that work, including ad hoc programs that don't require fancy optimized algorithms.

Both Gold and Silver levels are "invitation-only".  Invitations are earned by:

  • Doing well on the October  qualification exam
  • Doing well at the Bronze or Silver Level on subsequent contests
  • Special cases as determined by the coaches
  • Achieving the Gold/Silver level in previous contests

Invitations are lost by reading problems but not solving them. You can always read the problems after the contest.


Our first contest will be the three-hour USACO Qualification and Practice Contest. Those who wish to move up from their current silver or bronze competition level definitely might wish to take this exam. Anyone who wishes to expand their horizons (with no penalties) or just have fun is welcome to participate. Scores will be reported only to the contestant; no overall rankings will be revealed.

The Qualification contest's scores will be used only for qualifying-- they will not be used for determination of national champions, invitations to travel camps, etc.

The contest is of slightly unusual format since it must cover multiple levels of competitors. Perhaps half a dozen problems, each with a fixed point value, will be offered for solution within three hours. Choose to solve any or all of them.  The sum of the three best task-scores will determine your qualification placement.

The tasks and scoring are anticipated to facilitate placement of competitors at the proper level. By no means will all competitors solve all problems.

It is also possible (after subsequent contests) to be invited to move up or down a division if it is clear that the contestant is misassigned.

Below is this year's schedule for this year's contests.

Contest lengths are not shown because we choose the length based on the problems the contest contains, though generally they will be three hours in length. Except for the US Open, contests run from Friday through Monday, USA Mountain Time:

Analysis of last year's high finishers (from countries around the world) reveals, unsurprisingly, that more training begets better scores on algorithmic competitions. The surprising part of the analysis was that the actual correlation was so very high.

Want to win? Train more.
More on this in future newsletters.

 Unified Contest Schedule ------------------------------------------
 [Only USACO contests are currently known]

  * 23-26 Oct, 2009 -- USACO Qualification Contest
            ** OPTIONAL **
  *  6- 9 Nov, 2009 -- USACO November Contest
  *  4- 7 Dec, 2009 -- USACO December Contest
  *  8-11 Jan, 2010 -- USACO January Contest
  *  5- 8 Feb, 2010 -- USACO February Contest
  * 12-15 Mar, 2010 -- USACO March Contest
  * 22    Apr, 2010 -- US Open for USA  (no proctoring in 2010)
  * 23-26 Apr, 2010 -- US Open for International
  * Early Jun, 2010 -- USA Invitational Computing Olympiad   
                              (~9 days, by invitation), Clemson, SC
  * 14-21 Aug, 2010 -- IOI, Waterloo, Canada (by invitation)

Additional contests will be announced a few weeks in advance of the competition (just like last year's holiday contest).
We look forward to an exciting year of competition. Please join us!

I'll send details of each contest a few days before it starts.


PS: reply with 'unsubscribe' in the body of a note if you wish tobe removed from this low-traffic mailing list.



Registration Training Materials
For both contests and training is at:




The USACO training pages at http://train.usaco.org are still available free of charge for anyone who wishes to practice.

While we have supported Java in programming contests for almost two years now, we are pleased to announce that THE TRAINING PAGES AT http://train.usaco.org NOW ALSO SUPPORT JAVA (though you have to do an extra click for the 'experimental grader' until it's solid).

Criteria For 2010
We will use all contest results and work on the training materials as evaluation criteria for choosing attendees at the USACO training camp to be held in June, 2010. 
This means that candidates who show long-term strength (and/or growth) are more likely to be chosen for camp than those who have one lucky contest. We will be keeping a record of all  progress on the training materials.