Prologin is a student-driven association organizing a programming contest for French-speaking students under 21.

The first round is an online contest (like Google Code Jam) where people have to solve algorithmic problems using the language they want, for example: let’s say you have a cake with fruits of different colors on it, thousands of them, and as you don’t like the brioche, you want to find the shortest slice that contains at least each color once. You could test every slice, but that would take 1M operations. We’re constantly thinking of fun exercises of that kind.

The final round is an AI competition (like AI Challenge) in Paris where we make a custom multiplayer game: each of the top 100 contestants has to make an AI that plays the game and all programs compete in a tournament in order to determine the best strategy. During the 36 hours we provide food, housing, conferences, video games and contestants have to manage their time between their project and the activities. Everything is made so that the contestants can code in a relaxed environment.

We got a few surprises: for example, sometimes an algorithm finds a strategy the contestant hadn’t thought about; and two years ago we got a 15-year-old girl in the top 10.