The ICFP contest starts in around two weeks and we are building a Common Lisp team again this year. TL;DR let me know if you want to be part of it.
For those that don't know, the ICFP Contest (https://research.microsoft.com/en-us/events/icfpcontest2013/
) is a long running competition that poses a single hard, and sometimes mathematically deep, task for the participants to solve in a 3-day time period. The task is a secret which is revealed at the beginning of the contest. The problems are hard to solve, but (usually) easy to understand.
To give some idea of what kinds of problems you might expect, previous years have some awesome tasks like:
1. Designing control systems for a Mars rover
2. Designing a flight system for orbiting satellites
3. Writing an AI for a complex card game
And also some interesting, but esoteric problems like:
4. Reverse engineering an alien machine code from a compiled executable and data mining that executable
5. Writing code in various, odd computational models (typically involving writing an interpreter and an optimizing compiler)
We will be attacking the problem with many of the same tools as last year (http://directed-procrastination.blogspot.com/2012/07/adventures-in-collaborative-coding-with.html
). We will be using an IRC chat room for general correspondence throughout the weekend, but use video chatting and screen sharing where appropriate for communication. We will be heavily relying on Emacs to provide many of the collaborative tools that we will use. For collaborative editing, we will be using Rudel, which allows multiple people to edit the same buffer at the same time. For collaborative development, we will be using a shared Lisp image with multiple Slime/Swank connections. On that weekend, we will also be broadcasting our buffers via Impatient-Mode to any interested spectators.
At this time, we have 3 team members. If you are interested in spending a fun weekend participating, please let me know. Any Common Lisp programmers are invited to join this team, but ICFP is more geared towards people with a moderate to advanced understanding of programming and/or mathematics. People with a remedial understanding of both might not get a lot out of the experience, but don't let that stop you.
In order to get the collaborative tools set up and working properly, you will have to be an Emacs user and willing spend a half hour to hour setting things up over a video chat session. In addition, it is nice to have a few practice sessions under your belt before the actual competition. Also, due to the way the competition is organized this year, if you wish to have your name on the official team roster, you will have to get back to me relatively soon. So, please let me know if you are interested sooner rather than later.
This is a great chance to include a bit of a social element into your programming and to learn new techniques from other hackers. I hope to hear from you.