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Australian Informatics Olympiad

Formerly known as the Australian Informatics Competition (AIC), the Australian Informatics Olympiad (AIO) was presented as such for the first time in 2005.

The AIC is now an entry level competition in Informatics and requires no programming knowledge. Its questions are multi-choice and short answer and can be held in a school without using computers. It does identify a talent for computer programming, however.

The AIO on the other hand is a programming event and is used as the major basis of selection of students to attend a selection school for training and selecting a team to represent Australia at the International Olympiad in Informatics.

Whereas it is not compulsory to write the AIC before participating in the AIO, i.e. the AIO is a completely open event, students are nevertheless strongly encouraged to enter the AIC to give themselves the best possible background to enable later selection in the training school which is necessary before selection in an Australian IOI team.

The AIO is held in Australian secondary schools in the first week of September each year. An invitation brochure is posted to schools which have participated in the AIC and others upon request. A request for a brochure or in fact any enquiry can be made by pressing here.

We place below answers to hypothetical questions and to other real questions which we have received, about various aspects of the AIO.

Notes for Students

You may wish to take a look at some sample solutions to past problems from this competition. Solutions can be found on this page in all of the supported programming languages.

You are also encouraged to take a look at the online training site, where you can view problems from every past competition and submit your own solutions for on-the-spot judging!

Download AIO Brochure

Some frequently asked questions

Question: Why is the Olympiad being held?

Answer: This is an Olympiad to enable individual students to demonstrate advanced programming skills at using the computer to solve problems. There are some very talented computer programmers among Australian High School students. This is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their expertise.

Whereas we aim for the questions to be accessible to a rather wide range of students, the leading students will be given an opportunity to be selected for an Australian team to contest the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). This has been held since 1989 and is the second biggest of the scientific Olympiads, with about 80 countries participating (now including Australia).

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Question: How long is the paper?

Answer: 3 hours. There will be three questions and students should attempt all questions for full marks. The marking scheme is detailed on the paper.

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Question: Are there different papers for students in different years (Junior, Intermediate, Senior, etc)?

Answer: There are two papers. The Senior paper is for students up to Year 12. The Intermediate Paper is for students up to Year 10. The best few students up to Year 11 are chosen to attend the School of Excellence, a major training experience over ten days, held in December each year. Some of these students are able to undergo further training an be selected in the Australian IOI team. Students who are sucessful in the Intermediate paper will be considered for invitation to the School of Excellence.

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Question: How difficult will the questions be?

Answer: Sample questions are to be found on the invitation brochure. The 3 or 4 questions will be variable in standard. Students should attempt all of the questions, which will be of equal value. The easiest questions should be accessible to all students likely to enter the competition. The most difficult parts of the paper will be quite challenging.

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Question: Will there be any certificates?

Answer: All students who submit a solution will receive a certificate, either for Participation, or at Gold, Silver or Bronze levels, to acknowledge their work. This is the policy of the Australian Mathematics Trust for all of its events.

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Question: Does our school need the internet?

Answer: The question paper will be sent to schools as hard copy probably in the second week of August. Students will not need access to the internet to solve the problems or download files. However teachers will be asked to send their programs to the central marking office by web submission. It is best if the web access is on different machines to the ones where the students solve the problems.

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Question: Could you please be specific about what languages, version, manufacturers, etc are allowed?

Answer: The competition rules allow submissions in C, C++, C#, Pascal, Java, Python and PHP. Note that Visual Basic and Visual Basic.NET are no longer allowed as of 2012. Some languages are supported by several different compilers with subtle differences. The competition rules give details of the exact compiler that will be used for marking, but provided the students use only standard language features this should not be an issue. At the IOI only C, C++ and Pascal are permitted.

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Question: It says in the rules that students may not have access to electronic source codes as might be supplied by manufacturers. Does this include the sample source code in Visual Studio help files found for example with C++?

Answer: This example may be OK. The essential thing as that students should not be cutting and pasting code supplied by another party, and we ask supervisors to monitor this.

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Question: Is it permitted to use Delphi in solving the problems?

Answer: Yes, but students will still need to keep within the confines of standard Pascal when using Pascal. The rules do not forbid the use of units in Pascal, but they do restrict which units can be used.

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Question: What exactly do I need to submit ?

Answer: You should submit precisely one file of source code for each solution for a given student. Please note that you must submit source code, executable submissions will not be judged.

Note: Source code submissions allow the judging committee to ensure students are using allowed language features for solving the problems. In addition, executable submissions require special encodings for transmission (complicating the submission process), and pose a much greater risk of viruses or other malicious programs adverserly affecting the judging machine and hence the fair outcome of the competition.

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Question: In order for our students to compete, do we have to have a C++ (if that's what they choose) compiler on our system? And if we don't, does that mean that the students will not be able to compete?

Answer: Yes, the school must supply the necessary equipment and compiler environments for the competition. Their source code is mailed to us for evaluation.

Strictly speaking, it would be possible to compete using only a text editor, however this would necessitate submitting untested code, and given that marking is purely on correctness of the resulting program, such a strategy is quite likely to result in zero marks attributable to a small error and be unreflective of the student's ability.

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Question: May Turbo Pascal 7 users use the inline assembler?

Answer: Assembly is not part of Standard Pascal and there is no guarantee that assembly language parts of the programs will function correctly on the judging machine. So it can only hurt the contestant and we advise strongly against it.

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Question: In Turbo Pascal 7 may we set compiler options {$A+,G+}?

Answer: No; the rules state that default options will be used.

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Question: What benefits to Turbo Pascal 7 users get for working on a 286 processor?

Answer: Since judging is all done on the same machine there should be no disadvantage at judging time. Of course the users face a slight development disadvantage, but this is unavoidable, as it is impractical to set different contest lengths for each type of machine configuration. Students should be assured that a 286 is unlikely to provide a significant disadvantage given the nature of the problems.

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Question: I have the compiler: "Borland C++ 5.02" BDE, is that the compiler you will be using to check our replies? If no, which compilers are you using to check the replies? Do I have to specify what compiler I used into the source code as a comment in my .cpp application? Will you mark the algorithm style of your source codes, so therefore do we lose marks if your code is not well structured..and things like that...

Answer: 1&2. The compiler used by the judging committee is specified in the competition rules, which your school should receive a few weeks before the contest.

3. You do not specify which compiler you are using. You should only use standard C++ with the includes allowed by the competition rules, and your code will compile with the judges' compiler.

4. The code is machine marked for purposes of the AIC. However, I strongly encourage you to structure your code properly - you are far more likely to submit robust code which will perform well on the test data if you have structured your code properly.

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Question: In the competition do we have to get the inputs from a file and write the outputs to a file?

Answer: Yes. During the marking, the judges will supply their own input files and will examine your program's output files to ensure it produces the correct answers.

During the competition you can test your program by creating your own input files. The name and format of each input file will be included in each question statement.

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Question: Can you use any notes made about the use of a certain programming language?

Answer: Absolutely anything on paper is fine to take into the contest. Just as long as it is not in electronic format (i.e. on disk, hard drive, etc).

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Question: In an answer above it is said "you should not bring in any pre-written source code to load/copy/paste into your program." Does this include iostream.h and other necessary .h files?

Answer: Header files that come with your compiler (such as iostream.h) are perfectly okay.

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Question: Are we allowed to use Visual C++?

Answer: By all means. However, a different compiler will probably be used on the judging machine. The judges' compiler is specified in the contest rules We will be using the GNU C++ compiler.

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