Monday, 25 June 2007

The process

Ralf Hinze, the general chair of ICFP 2007 asked us already at the end of 2005 if we would like to organise the ICFP Programming Contest 2007. I tried to collect a group of people from the Software Technology group of the Computing Sciences department of Utrecht University that were willing to help. That turned out to be rather easy: the majority of the people I asked were enthusiastic about it. In the first months we had frequent meetings, to discuss the several aspects of organising such a contest. Furthermore, we extended the team with several young colleagues. In particular with people that had participated in a couple of previous contests, which was really helpful.

After two months we stopped meeting to wait for the 2006 contest. We participated in the 2006 contest with four members of the team. As I mentioned in the blog message about the 2006 contest, I think this was a great experience.

We resumed brainstorming at the end of summer 2006. We ended up with three or four problem ideas. Each idea was investigated by a small group of people, and in October we selected one of the ideas, based on the practical requirements for a task we have formulated in a previous blog message.

In the following months we implemented several components for the task, and we tried to solve the several problems we envisaged with our problem idea. In January 2007 we were pretty convinced that our problem idea had no fatal flaws, and we started working out the many details that we had left open.

Since then we have been working on the implementation of the several components, testing, and quality control.


James Edward Gray II said...

I just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed reading about your process in these blog entries. I've always had the utmost respect for the previous hosts and I was way under estimating what it really takes to run such an event. It was neat of you to decide to share that with us.

Because I will be one of the pressured contestants sending angry emails to the contest list about the ambiguous interpretation of the word "the" on page five of the specification real soon now, let me just take this chance to say: thanks so much for all your hard work on this event. We really do appreciate the effort.

Bildzeitung said...

A question -- is two years lead time usual for this contest? Or has this been increasing with the complexity of the contests themselves?

Johan Jeuring said...

I guess the chair tries to ask someone to organise the contest at least one year before the contest, so that the new organisers can participate in the contest before the one they are organising.

We did not need two years for this years contest: we could have started everything after the contest 2006. I felt better by already having a team ready, and by getting clear what we had to do on an abstract level.

All creative and technical work on our contest has been done since september 2006.