Facebook Announces Hacker Cup Engineering Competition

Facebook has announced it will hold its first annual multi-round programming competition called Hacker Cup. Entrants will have their answers to “algorithmic-based problem statements” scored on accuracy and speed. 25 finalists will be flown to Facebook headquarters to compete for a $5,000 grand prize and the Hacker Cup trophy. Facebook has been using its Hackathons to engage the development community, promote its status as a technology company, and recruit top talent.

The Hacker Cup’s cash prizes are relatively small compared to the $2 billion in revenue some speculate Facebook will bring in during 2010. However, winners could receive something of greater value — a job or internship at Facebook. The Sharabash brothers who won Facebook’s Camp Hackathon for university students were offered a summer internship for their ambitious augmented reality drawing application. Even if Facebook doesn’t offer any unofficial prizes, the notoriety gained could position finalists for recruitment by other technology companies.

Unlike previous competitions which have been subjectively judged by Facebook executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Hacker Cup will be a more objective competition based on skill instead of presentation.

Here are the details of the Hacker Cup rounds:

Qualification Round

Time Limit: 72 hours

Date: 4pm PST, January 7, 2011 to January 10

To Advance: Solve at least one of the three problems.

Online Round 1

Time Limit: 3 sub-rounds of 3 hours each

Date: Different times from 7am PST, January 15 to 4pm PST, January 15

To Advance: Score amongst the top 1,000 competitors in any of the three sub-rounds.

Online Round 2

Time Limit: 3 hours

Date: 7am PST, January 22 to 10am PST, January 22

To Advance: Score amongst the top 25 competitors to be flown to Facebook headquarters and receive accommodations in Palo Alto, CA for the finals. Those scoring amongst the top 300 competitors will receive an official Hacker Cup t-shirt.


Date: March 11

First Place: $5,000, the title of world champion, and the winner’s name on the Hacker Cup trophy

Second Place: $2,000

Third Place: $1,000

Fourth through Twenty-Fifth Place: $100