The winner of Facebook’s fourth annual Hacker Cup was Gennady Korofkevich of Russia, who took home a $10,000 grand prize, edging second-place Tomek Czajka of the U.S., who finished second, mirroring his finish in the 2012 Hacker Cup, and took home $3,000; and Makoto Soejima of Japan, who finished third and collected $2,000.
The two-day finals competition brought 25 finalists to Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and other finalists hailed from countries including Australia, Belarus, China, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Ukraine.
Alex Hollander of Facebook’s technology communications team offered more details on the fourth annual Hacker Cup in a post on the social network’s engineering blog:
The Hacker Cup weekend began with a day full of tech programming for the finalists. Facebook engineers spoke to the group about how they build at Facebook using infrastructure tools like Scuba and the HipHop Virtual Machine, as well as how different products like News Feed work under the hood. Later that evening, the group went to Oakland to see a National Basketball Association game, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets.
The next day, the competition was held in a room full of monitors, headphones, snacks, drinks, and the Hacker Cup trophy on display. After a 10-second countdown, the competition was underway, and finalists began working their way through the series of problems.
The logic problems were designed to test the contestants’ abilities to perform complex equations and challenge them to think creatively and critically to solve the problems quickly. The finalists earned points by solving the problems correctly, but time penalties were used to break the inevitable point ties between finalists.
The first problem was called “Intervals of Love,” and it asked participants to build off an earlier question from a qualifying round and determine how many sub-arrays in an inclusive interval were slowly increasing. Next was the 20-point “Lunch at Facebook” challenge, which asked the finalists to determine the most efficient way for hypothetical Facebook employees and visitors to line up for lunch.
The last two questions — “Fortunate Wheels” and “Tours” — were worth 33 and 37 points, respectively. Fortunate Wheels looked at a game show scenario in which contestants trade points to guess the letters of a secret word and earn points when they guess right. But in this scenario, the contestant actually knew the secret word, and the finalists were tasked with helping the contestant earn the most points possible. Finally, Tours asked competitors to identify how many visitors were hypothetically on Facebook’s campus, given an intricate series of constraints and conditions.
After time was up, organizers David Alves and Zef RosnBrick checked over the results to ensure accuracy before announcing the winners and bringing the group to come celebrate on stage. Korofkevich was presented with an oversized $10,000 check and the Hacker Cup trophy.
Programmers: Do you think you have what it takes to compete for the fifth annual Hacker Cup?