Facebook today announced open registration for its second annual Hacker Cup, an annual algorithmic programming contest open to engineers from around the world. Programmers will be judged on accuracy and speed as they race to solve algorithmic problems to advance through up to five rounds of programming challenges. The winner will receive the title World Champion for Facebook's 2012 Hacker Cup.
The competition will start with a 72-hour Qualification Round on January 20 at 4:00 PM PST. It will end on January 23 at 4:00 PM PST. All registered competitors will be presented with three problems. Every competitor who correctly solves at least one problem will advance to Online Round 1.
Online Round 1 will last 24 hours from January 28 at 10:00 AM PT to January 29 at 10:00 AM PT. To advance to Online Round 2, participants must solve at least one problem correctly. If more than 500 people solve at least one problem correctly, then the top 500 participants will advance, as well as everyone else who answered the same number of questions correctly as the 500th-place contestant.
Online Round 2 will last three hours from February 4 at 1:00 PM PT to February 4 at 4:00 PM PT. The competitors will have three hours to solve the presented problem sets. The top-scoring 100 participants from Online Round 2 will receive an official Hacker Cup t-shirt and will be notified via e-mail that they have advanced to Online Round 3.
Online Round 3 will last three hours from February 11 at 1:00 PM PT to February 11 at 4:00 PM PT. The 100 competitors will have three hours to solve the presented problem sets. The top-scoring 25 competitors from Online Round 3 will be notified via e-mail that they have advanced to the final round at Facebook, and the company will fly them out to its headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
If you're not from the U.S., you should know finalists will be responsible for obtaining their own entry visa before arrival in the country. Facebook will reimburse the finalist for any visa application fee and up to $100 USD in travel expenses incurred in obtaining the visa, but the company will not reimburse any fees or expenses related to obtaining a passport.
The final round of competition will be on March 17. Prizes will include cash and "other awesome goodies." More specifically, the first prize is $5,000 USD, title as world champion, and the honor of being immortalized on the Hacker Cup trophy. The remaining prizes are as follows: $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third, $100 for fourth through 25th, and "awesome t-shirts" for the top 100 hackers coming out of the second online round.
If you want to try the problems from last year's qualification round, you can check them out here: Problems. More details and announcements will be posted at facebook.com/hackercup. You may also want to take a look at the FAQ as well as the Terms & Conditions.
Let's hope this year's version goes better than last year's. 2011 Hacker Cup featured bugs and a lack of communication; although Facebook ended up addressing a lot of the issues, many found it to be a very poor experience overall.