The team of three programmers was given a set of problems which they have to implement in their favorite programming language (at least C,C++,Java were supported). All problems came with an exact specification and a set of test cases. The evaluation of a solution was performed automatically via the Mooshak tool. Given that the contest organizers had chosen their testcases well, this meant that a solution had to be perfect up to the last bit and, in some cases, also performant enough in order to give points.
It was interesting to note that time appeared not to be a limiting factor for the success in the contest. How fast problems have been solved only influenced the ranking between teams with the same amount of points. Basically, this was a good choice, since it gave a motivation for the teams to sleep and eat regularly within the 24 hours in order to stay focused.
None of the exercises involved writing large or even moderate-sized programs. As far as I could see, the solutions of my team usually were below a length of 200 LOC. The trickiness was more in deriving the idea for the possible solution and implementing it well without errors. Also creating test cases with good coverage was a very demanded skill in the contest.
To conclude, although I thought before that the IEEEXtreme contest is an event for code "hackers", my opinion is now that some classic rules of software engineering still hold true for this event. The requirement that a solution had to be exactly correct did not allow for a sloppy or ad-hoc programming style, and thus the classic stages like specification of operational and performance qualification, design specification, implementation, black box and white box testing and validation could be observed. Since a team member spent only 2-3 hours on one problem, I could observe miniature software projects evolving in a fast-forward manner.
By the way, the team Quit pro Code finished place 25th out of over 700 participants from all over the world. So, I am very proud of the team that I was allowed to proctor!
- Sixth IEEE Xtreme Programming Contest: Bunnies in the Forest (Experiences from IEEE Xtreme 2012)