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Huge Difference in the Difficulty level of Problems of August Long Challenge

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Hello Everyone,

Recently I took part in August long challenge, it was good overall. But the main pitfall according to me in the challenge was the difficulty level of different problems. First four problems were easy and have submissions varying from 3k to 7k but 5th problem has only 148 submissions.The thing I want to point out is that this contest able to differentiate between very good programmer and average programmer on the other hand had been there problems with difficulty level varying gradually from top to bottom, the contest will be successful to differentiate between an average and an above average programmer however in the august Challenge both these categories fall under one banner.

I just want to make a request to Long challenge problem setters that there must be problems of each level, otherwise the contest becomes boring after 2 or 3 days for a programmer like me, because it's very difficult to even think of a solution to a problem like Kcompression and ahead of it.

asked 14 Aug '18, 19:46

byomkeshbakshy's gravatar image

5★byomkeshbakshy
12719
accept rate: 0%

1

Please post your views on contest announcement page instead of a new post. I helps @admin in taking reviews.

(14 Aug '18, 20:37) aryanc4035★

I am not in favour of Long Challenge because it is a 10 days contest and always accompanied by mass cheating. Short contest like Cook-Off is much better than this.

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answered 14 Aug '18, 20:01

osho_garg's gravatar image

2★osho_garg
737
accept rate: 4%

4

Why are you looking at Long Challenges in the negative way? It is a must for every learner. Rip the internet, go through innumerous theories and concepts, think for days, prepare the algorithm and then get an AC. Isn't it exciting just to think of it? You get to learn and apply a lot of new things in just 10 days.

And yep, no two problems are same. Hats off to the innovative and creative problem setting team...

(14 Aug '18, 20:34) sarthakmanna6★

I agree with @sarthakmanna, In a short contest though we brainstorm too much there is not enough time to learn. Short contests are good to see how much you improved rather than improving. Long contests are not about the contest but more about learning. Though I agree, cheating is there and it discourages the feel of competition.

(14 Aug '18, 21:13) ay23064★

I agree with @sarthakmanna, In a short contest though we brainstorm too much there is not enough time to learn. Short contests are good to see how much you improved rather than improving. Long contests are not about the contest but more about learning. Though I agree, cheating is there and it discourages the feel of competition.

(14 Aug '18, 21:13) ay23064★

@sarthakmanna to learn various concepts and theories, there are many problems in the practice section. Why depend only on long challenges . If a beginner is not able to solve the problem in the short contest or in practice section he/she can easily look up for the editorial after the contest.

(14 Aug '18, 21:28) osho_garg2★

@osho_garg - Sorry but your above argument is poor. You're literally saying contests cannot be made a means of learning? Well, doesnt a human always appreciate an extra push towards learning something? :)

(14 Aug '18, 22:07) vijju123 ♦♦5★
(14 Aug '18, 23:38) osho_garg2★
showing 5 of 6 show all

I used to think the same. Contest questions vary in difficulty hugely, as the difference the number of accepted solutions between GCDMOD and KCOMPRESS is huge. But I love long contests now. I brainstormed for ten days, learned various tips and different algorithms and techniques which weren't even required to solve any of the problems teaching me that if where this technique can be used and where it cannot be. Even if I lose my ratings in LONG challenge, I can always cover them up in a short contest. Start looking at contests as an opportunity to learn and stop complaining about the difference of toughness in a long contest where adequate time is given to learning various techniques.

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answered 14 Aug '18, 21:21

ay2306's gravatar image

4★ay2306
2329
accept rate: 11%

Quite ironical. While you guys have had an argument from contestant perspective, let me put across the perspective of setting panel.

Yes, the long contest is hard - as one can see by checking contests before division system and ones after division system when @mgch took the responsibility of contest admin, and it will get harder if it can anymore. :) . And its only for the good.

What will you get by easier problems? One of the biggest things the contest admin must see is that, all sorts of coders find problems interesting. For good coders the contest was earlier, boring, as tasks were obvious. But looking now, I feel the situation is getting better.

First four problems were easy and have submissions varying from 3k to 7k but 5th problem has only 148 submissions.

So what? Let me highlight two points here.

Firstly, the solution of KCOMPRESS was quite intuitive. Going by direction of how to construct the sequence $B$ (which is actually a standard routine of thinking) gave an easy way to get AC. Perhaps if you'd had said that "Princess and Dragons was too tough" or "Challenge question should had been made more attemptable" then I'd had agreed. But if you aren't able to solve KCOMPRESS, then I say come forward and take responsibility. Make more efforts into learning. Analyze if the problems are tough, or is it just you. Why do you have to follow the herd? Why cant you have an independent opinion of problem based on your skills? Of course, number of submissions is a good relative measure of "Ok, whats the easiest question which I can attempt now," but its not foolproof, and should not be a reason at all why you feel a problem is out of your reach.

Secondly, you say so many people werent able to solve KCOMPRESS. How many of them went ahead and checked its editorial and upsolved it? Div1+Div2, the editorial has roughly $2.1k$ views. What does the setting panel and contest admin make out of it? You guys arent able to solve questions, then you arent even upsolving as well, forget that, you guys arent even reading editorials! So much effort goes into making them!!

The situation seems like, if we give something easy, everybody does it, and if we increase the difficulty a little more, very less people do it as everyone follows the herd. KCOMPRESS was just a little bit of logical thinking + how to express your solution in terms of algorithm, and steps/data needed to arrive at final answer. Implementation can be easily followed by googling "How to find maximum element in range." The binary search logic was not very hard to get either.

Then people say there is mass cheating in long? Its always the div2 guys, along with some 4 or 5 stars in div1. We cannot control internet. But rest assured, the plagiarism detector does seem to take care of many cases. I cannot believe that there would be too many people who "got a top rank" from cheating.

The thing I want to point out is that this contest able to differentiate between very good programmer and average programmer on the other hand had been there problems with difficulty level varying gradually from top to bottom, the contest will be successful to differentiate between an average and an above average programmer however in the august Challenge both these categories fall under one banner.

I think contest did very well in this regard, especially in div1. If the top coder of div2 is someone who can apply a basic segment tree query then admin cannot do anything for it.

I just want to make a request to Long challenge problem setters that there must be problems of each level, otherwise the contest becomes boring after 2 or 3 days for a programmer like me,

Winners never quit and quitters never win. Keep leaving questions like this and you'd be surprised at how little progress you are making in such a huge span of time. Just an honest advise, nothing personal, upsolving is more important than you think. And pushing yourself over your limit is even more important.

I am not in favour of Long Challenge because it is a 10 days contest and always accompanied by mass cheating. Short contest like Cook-Off is much better than this.

@osho_garg - Perhaps short contests do have a good educational value due to quick revealing of solutions as compared to long, but again, self-learning is best done in long :)

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answered 14 Aug '18, 22:00

vijju123's gravatar image

5★vijju123 ♦♦
15.5k12066
accept rate: 18%

edited 14 Aug '18, 22:09

@vijju123 what I am saying is that there should be something like easy-medium-hard problems.While in August challenge their were 4 problems which are easy and rest are hard where the medium part gone?

Their is a lot of academic pressure as well I cannot devote complete 10 days to long challenge I use to spend only the weekends and I think I will not be able to solve medium difficulty level problem so there is no use of headscratching over super difficult problem...learning is step by step and not all in once.

(14 Aug '18, 22:18) byomkeshbakshy5★

"What will you get by easier problems?"

What I will get by scratching my head over a problem for 10 days and still didn't get anything.

What will a 8th class student learn if you guve him 10 days and a typical Integration problem to solve.Will he get something? NO...never.

Learning must be in a staircase way one step in one go and not like a superman jump to reach hieght in one go.

"Winners never quit and quitters never win. Keep leaving........"

In above 8th class guy it will be good for him to leave that problem and focus on things which are in his scope or a little bit out of it.

(14 Aug '18, 23:18) byomkeshbakshy5★

What will a 8th class student learn if you guve him 10 days and a typical Integration problem to solve.Will he get something? NO...never.

If he just blankly stares at the question. If he knows how to use internet, he can do something :)

While in August challenge their were 4 problems which are easy and rest are hard where the medium part gone?

KCOMPRESS was a medium level question at most. Just because a question got you by surprise doesnt mean its hard. Look at questions like SUMCOBE to get an idea of Hard difficulty.

(14 Aug '18, 23:34) vijju123 ♦♦5★

In above 8th class guy it will be good for him to leave that problem and focus on things which are in his scope or a little bit out of it.

Smart work is the key to success. :)

Their is a lot of academic pressure as well I cannot devote complete 10 days to long challenge

Story of 90% contestants. Whats new in case of you?

there is no use of headscratching over super difficult problem

Solve sub-tasks at least. KCOMPRESS was not a super difficult problem. Yes, it might be ok to solve the hardest problem only partially, fine. But this case is different from what you argued in question.

(14 Aug '18, 23:36) vijju123 ♦♦5★

Nothing to worry.. It was a nice problem set... specially RIVER

(15 Aug '18, 03:14) chandyshot4★

I'm posting here although I was first person to say don't post here xD. But I personally like long contest. I decided that I will upsolve loncyc, I opened editorial for about ~10 times. But either didn't read it. Or didn't read after finding a link of pre req. for finding cycles in graph. Because I don't want to spoil this problem.

But long are time consuming. And I have to struggle for 2-3 days to get AC. After I have solved non scorable problems. And no of problems solved by = 4 (including non scorable) + (no of days struggled)/3 +- 1.

I'm not in favour of reducing difficulty. If difficulty is reduced then I would be first person to complain about inflation in ratings. Because I learn more from a long contest rather than short contest.

(15 Aug '18, 03:54) aryanc4035★
showing 5 of 6 show all

I agree that there was a bit of gap in the difficulty profile of August. Setting problems is not easy and the setters can't always gauge the exact response that their problem is going to find across the community here.

But if I had had more time to spend on them, I think I would have enjoyed the challenge of learning more techniques to apply to the harder problems here. Even thinking about them, and trying different approaches, and yes, failing in different ways, can be useful under the constraint of the challenge timeframe.

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answered 14 Aug '18, 22:04

joffan's gravatar image

5★joffan
9488
accept rate: 13%

Huge difference in difficulty level? No, not at all.

Even I struggled in KCOMPRES, but got 100% AC on my 56th attempt (Yes, 56th!) and that too without using segment tree. And that's why I like the concept of long challenges so much. Self-learning is always at it's peak.

KCOMPRES just required few observations and correct implementation of array traversals along with binary search. It didn't even required segment tree to solve it. Just few logical observations, sorting, binary search and array traversals and that's it! That's how I did it, just using the basics.

Just because everyone is providing solution with segment tree and you didn't know segment tree doesn't mean the problem was hard.

Hopefully, you'll learn segment tree now :) :)

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answered 15 Aug '18, 00:52

faizz7's gravatar image

4★faizz7
312
accept rate: 0%

Another aspect that was not discussed yet - unlike CodeForces, the problems here allow partial points. Furthermore, the gradation of constraints in partial points gives a good clue how to solve a problem. I think the folks underestimate the amount of the extra information that the partial point constraints have.

If you stuck with a problem - find a solution for the easiest constraints first. It's a double yummy - you actually get partial points and improve your contest ranking, AND you may get a hint how to solve the problem for complete points.

For some people it may seem like an extra work not worth perusing. But that's just lazy. We are here to learn and practice. So, do practice :)

In short: partial points in a hard problem = medium.

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answered 15 Aug '18, 01:26

oleg_b's gravatar image

7★oleg_b
3195
accept rate: 16%

Also, in some problems partial tasks are beautiful. Like in the river one, it required you to implement finding minimum vertex cover of the tree - it was quite nice in my opinion.

(15 Aug '18, 02:04) vijju123 ♦♦5★

This is a very good point; one that I will take on board next time around.

(15 Aug '18, 04:13) joffan5★

I am in favour of long challenge and i enjoy long challenge because of 10 days of time in which you can think logic or learn new algorithms....some time self discover algo's. in short long challenge is best for learners.

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answered 19 Aug '18, 12:50

abhi55's gravatar image

4★abhi55
426
accept rate: 5%

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question asked: 14 Aug '18, 19:46

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last updated: 19 Aug '18, 12:50