Every year, thousands of students from all over the world participate in the USACO, the United States of America Computing Olympiad, and through grit and determination, fight through the anxiety-wreaking four hours of tense programming. As an individual competition, the USACO supports the efforts of these students by offering them the ability to participate in the IOI, the International Olympiad in Informatics. These four students will represent the strength and determination of our country as they strive to succeed against international competitors.
The USACO consists of four divisions: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Every year, students advance to the next level, trying to earn a score that would qualify them. There are usually four competitions held per year, where students have to answer around 3-4 questions in four hours. For every question, depending on how many test cases can be passed, a certain number of points will be passed. A high enough score will qualify you for the next division.
The Bronze division is where newcomers to the competition start. While this level is the easiest, it still requires skill, forcing you to create code for different types of questions. The most common types of algorithms used in this level include simulation, where the code represents exactly what the question does, and brute force, where the code identifies all possible solutions and figures out which ones work.
The Silver division is more difficult than the Bronze division, but simpler than that of the Gold and Platinum. It utilizes more advanced data structures as well, such as stacks. If a high enough score is achieved, then you can reach Gold.
The Gold division is the second to last division. It places the focus on writing shorter code, as well as posting more difficult questions. To pass this division, hard work and effort must be put forward. However, if you can pass, you will reach the Platinum division, the most prestigious one.
This division is the hardest and most elite level. Programmers who are in this division are very skilled and dedicated to programming. The best in this division will have a chance to go to the USACO Camp, where the best of the best will then be picked out to represent the US at the International Olympiad in Informatics.
This Year’s Team
This year’s team consists of four high schoolers from around the country. They worked hard to achieve their success and will attend the IOI in Singapore. Currently, the event is delayed due to the coronavirus. These high schoolers: Walden Yan, Danny Mittal, Xinyang (Alan) Chen, and William Lin were selected to represent the USA at the 2020 International Olympiad in Informatics. Some of these students, such as William Lin, were selected in past years as well.
How To Prepare
The only way to prepare is through hard work and determination. There are many resources that you can use, such as websites like HackerRank and CodeChef, as well as the USACO Training Gateway, which has tons of practice information.
Stay tuned to The Roundup for more news about the USACO!