I recently noticed that Borland made the famous Turbo Pascal 5.5 available for free download. I couldn’t resist to give it a quick run:
During my college years at University of Bucharest this was the development IDE that everyone used it. I liked it because it was extremely fast and easy to use. Especially on the antique computers in our lab. I vaguely remeber that we had some 80286 4 MHz with just a 1 MB of memory. Now even my cell phone has more than that!
Every couple of months, we used to have regular programming contests when we had to solve five problems in around 2-3 hours total. Which means that you had to come up with a fully working program in around 20 minutes. If you got any bugs, you got another “virtual” 20 minutes added to your score. At the end, you would win if you had the maximum number of correctly solved problems in the least amount of time. To my shame, I never won the first place.
Some problems were trivial, some were quite interesting. You also had a number of challenges from the environment. First, you were limited in 640K of memory usage of course (and Turbo Pascal had even more limitations on its generated memory layout), so you had to be creative when designing your data structures. Otherwise you would run out of memory. Second, the program had to complete the execution on all data sets in less than one minute. And some of these data sets were quite large…
Here are a few interesting problems that I still remember:
1) Given N (x_i y_i) points in a plane that have a certain assigned color, either red or blue, find a line that divides the plane such that one part contains only red points, and the other one only green points.
2) The result of the latest elections in a country is kept in a single file in a succession of pairs (X, Y) where X is the ID of the citizen that voted citizen Y for president. There is no initial list of candidates. Write a program that establishes the president. BTW, the input file had a significant size, and you had to find the solution in one or two passes.