Most competitions use a similar format: each team is provided with a single computer and a stack of problems; whoever can write programs solving the most problems in the allotted time wins. For teams solving the same number of problems, the times at which the solutions were submitted are added together--plus a penalty for each incorrect submission on those problems--with the tie going to the lower total time.
Wheaton students compete in annual contests organized by ACM and by ACCA. We also sometimes join competitions hosted by other schools in the region.
ACM Intercollegiate Programming Competition
The ACM competition is international in scope, with hundreds of schools participating. The first round for us is the Midwest Regional contest, which is held at several different locations, usually in early November. Top finishers in the regional competition advance to the International Finals. (Wheaton was first in the region and represented to the finals in 1995.)
The Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA) sponsors a competition among its members each winter.
The ACCA competition includes a novice division for students in their first year of computing course work, and so it is a great place for beginners to get some experience.
Sign-up for teams typically will be at the beginning of the spring semester.