And the 2011 Mebipenny Challenge Award of 2^20 cents ($10,485.76) goes to Andrew Cobb! Congratulations Andrew!

If you're just joining us, we're hot on the heels of our first ever Instructure Mebipenny Coding Competition, which was, by and large, a huge success! Here's a quick recap of how the competition worked:

Andrew Cobb, gentleman, scholar, MebiPenny winner, holding an undersized novelty check for $10,485.76.Andrew Cobb, gentleman, scholar, MebiPenny
winner, holding an undersized novelty check for

The competition was split into two phases. The first phase was an online challenge round hosted by custom coding competition software we wrote. The final round, held in-person at Instructure HQ, required competitors to write an artificial intelligence bot to play a game inspired by "Dots and Boxes" against other contestants’ programs.

How popular was this contest? I'll quickly share some stats with you:

We had over 600 people sign up to find out more about the competition and more than 300 people actually logged into the online contest portal. During the online competition, 180 people submitted at least one code solution and there were 2,570 code solutions total.

And how did scoring go? Well, the maximum possible score anyone could have gotten on the online portion was 40 and the average score was 6.62. We wanted to get an even spread and make a hard test, but we may have gone overboard!

Here is the distribution of points by all the contestants:

describe the imageGood work everyone who joined in!

We were also able to collect a lot of interesting statistics in the online round, but the one that surprised us the most was the dominance of C# with Utah coders! We had no idea.

Check out the language distribution of the first round:

describe the image

A whole bag of Swedish Fish. Not a bad consolation prize.A whole bag of Swedish Fish. Not a bad consolation prize.

The final round started at 2:00pm at Instructure HQ. We had 13 contestants because of a 5-way tie for 9th place. After four grueling hours, Andrew Cobb's artificial intelligence came out on top, winning him a shiny new MebiPenny in the form of a tiny foam check. His program was so good, it even beat some Instructure employees' own solutions.

Second place went to Anthony Neal, who got a bag of Swedish Fish.

Here at Instructure we love open source, so we've decided to release all of our contest code to the public:

  • StraitJacket: This is a restricted code execution system based on Linux AppArmor. This project is where you want to contribute if we didn't support your language correctly or at all.
  • CodeWarden: This is the actual web application that hosted the tournament.
  • First Round Problems: This has all the first round competition problems, the test cases, our solutions, post-mortem-style descriptions of common issues people had, and what the right solution strategy was. Make sure to read the readme file if you need help finding the goods.
  • Hexagons: This is the specification, server, visualization, and sample bot used for the final round. This isn't quite ready to go yet, but it'll be at that URL soon. While you're waiting, you can watch a video of a match between two prized Instructure employees.

If you competed, thanks again, and hope to see you again soon!

Zach Wily
VP, Engineering