27.7.15: Practice session and opening ceremony
We wake up early in the morning to realize that we have over an hour before our guide comes to pick us up for breakfast. While trying to contact Allan, we engage in various activities, some of which involved the playground:
Breakfast involved some excellent milk, cakes and pastries. After that, we walked to the eventual contest hall, the Al-Farabi library, for the practice session. While playing cards, I inform the team about the IOI push-up challenge: pick a constant c, and for every point you fail to get at the IOI, you have to do c push-ups. I pick c = 0.2.
At the contest hall, we settle into our seats and take a look around. To our left sits Macau, to our right, Moldova, and others in the vicinity include France and Germany. The screen was locked on a cover page showing our details.
Someone in the contest hall counts down the seconds to the start of the practice session, and I get a glimpse of the tension that would be present tomorrow during Day 1. For now, I test out the keyboard, mouse and configure my system. I decide that the laptop keyboard is better, and I unplug the external one. The mouse works reasonably, so I won’t have to use my own. Then, I pull up Terminal and gEdit, and start to code out solutions to the practice tasks.
Although I had some time to think about them on the plane, I still only had partial solutions to divide and graph for 50 points each. Search was just trivial binary search. I code out all 3 solutions and submit, and they perform as expected. A small commotion at the entrance distracts me, and I notice that the leaders have arrived. Shien Jin and Mark come to my station a while later to make sure that my system is working fine.
After they leave, I suddenly solve Graph. It was pretty simple after all: run a BFS initially to find a path P from S to T. Then run a DFS from each vertex in P in turn to record, for each node v, the first vertex u in P such that there is a path from u to v. Then flip P working backwards, keeping a count of the first vertex of P that reaches each vertex of P, which is sufficient to find all points that disconnects S and T.
After the practice session, we head for lunch, then to the opening ceremony at the Palace of Students. This was the first time I had ever arrived early to an opening ceremony: so early, in fact, that we were waved away by a petulant man at the entrance, so we seek shelter under some trees to wait. This was the venue:
The opening ceremony was, in my opinion, bizarre. The performances were strange, including one where two dancers accompanied a man carrying just an unplugged guitar, synced to electronic music. Unlike the IMO, the IOI opening ceremonies just have the teams stand up in the hall instead of parading on the stage, which made for a speedy ceremony. It ended with the raising of the IOI flag, which failed on its first attempt. It was eventually raised, and the ceremony pronounced over.
Outside the hall, we started playing cards. A few Kazakh locals approached us and asked us where we were from, showed us a card trick, and then taught us how to play Durak (‘idiot’ in Russian), a card game widely played in Kazakhstan. Because they weren’t very proficient in English, this took some time, but we eventually got it. We would then play lots of this game over the week.
We then headed to an early dinner, before going back to the hostel for quarantine. This was when the leaders and deputies were translating the tasks for Contest Day 1 tomorrow, so wi-fi access was cut off on our side. We played cards and chatted, and went to bed at 10, all a little nervous for the contest the next day.