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Subject:
From:
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 20 Apr 2000 11:07:04 -0400
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Britt et al,
>
> I stumbled upon the rules for the ACM International Collegiate
> Programming Contest at http://acm.baylor.edu/acmicpc/Regionals/About.htm
> and noticed that Ada is excluded from the World Finals (although
> apparently not from the U.S. regional contests).
>
>         Regional Contest Computing Environment
>
>                 The programming languages of the regional contest include C and C++
>                 Additional programming languages may be used.
>                 The programming languages of the World Finals are Pascal, C, C++, and
> Java.
>
We've been around this loop many times, here and on other lists.
I'm putting on my hat as Education WG chair for ACM SIGAda.
There are a lot of profs out here like me who kow this issue
very well.

Here is the truth, folks. Ada was never excluded, it was just never
included.

Several years ago, I discussed this at some length with the contest
managers. The outcome was as follows:

(1) There is no "political" reason why Ada cannot be included

(2) There may, or may not, be technical reasons. The contest has a
    highly structured computer system for submitting and checking
    problem solutions. The contest folks have little experience
    with Ada compilation systems, and little interest in acquiring
    such experience.

(3) Ada can be included if the Ada community provides expertise
    in helping the contest managers get Ada set up on their
    system, and if some universities field teams that want to use Ada.

The contest is run mainly with volunteer labor from various profs
and industry people; over the years various companies have provided
grants for equipment and software: IBM, AT&T, Microsoft, etc. We
cannot expect the existing non-Ada-fan volunteers to do integration
work we are not willing to contribute to.

The last several times we went around this loop, I suggested that the
best way to start the process is for "Ada schools" to field teams in
the _regional_ contests. The regional managers have some flexibility. If

- in some region, one or two Ada teams are fielded,
- the regional contest can integrate an Ada compiler into their
  Windoze-based system (presumably GNAT/AdaGIDE or GNAT/pcGRASP or OA)
- an Ada team places high enough in the regional contest to move on
  to the (inter)national contest

the larger contest problem will be solved. This is NOT a problem
that lends itself to a top-down solution.

In the 5 years or so that we've been discussing this issue,

(1) as far as I know, NOT ONE Ada team has been fielded in a
    regional contest;

(2) NOT ONE Team-er or other Ada advocate has stepped forward
    to say "I'll donate my time to helping the contests solve
    their perceived technical problems."

The contest is one area in which I'm willing (as I have been for
the last 5 years or so) to play an informational role, and to
participate in an Ada-community effort to get Ada into the
contest, BUT the contest is not a top priority for me, so I will not
lead the effort, because I think it's time for those who really want
to see Ada in the contest step up to the plate.

In other words, in this matter, we have met the "enemy"
and it is us, folks.

Britt and others, the ball is in your court.

Mike Feldman

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