Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 New Book: How to Create the Next Silicon Valley

By Frederick E. Allen , Forbes Magazine

(This article appears in the April 23, 2012 issue of Forbes.)

How to Create the Next Silicon Valley

People everywhere keep trying to ¬duplicate the success of Silicon Valley as an incubator for innovation and wealth. Victor W. Hwang, a Los Altos Hills, Calif., venture capitalist, has been studying what makes the Valley succeed and so many of its imitators fail, and he’s convinced he has found the answer. Not only that, but he’s putting his ideas to the test, trying to foster new versions of the place around the world. How? It’s about how people work together.

“Instead of thinking of Silicon Valley as this exceptional place,” he says, “think of it as a result of the world’s biggest experiment—the opening of the American West. Take people running away from the rest of the world, strangers with diverse experience and talent, and what happens? What emerges is a body of culture and invisible rules, and a mechanism for trusting strangers.” We think of the Wild West as a lawless place, but it was the opposite, Hwang says. And the same goes for Silicon Valley. Both relied on people from vastly different backgrounds and places, driven by passion, coming together to build environments of unusual trust and mutual support.

At age 40, a product of Harvard College and the University of Chicago Law School, Hwang has spent five years as the managing director of T2 Venture Capital, where he has been involved with numerous startups. Trust in Silicon Valley “happens in a million microtransactions,” he says. “It’s sort of understood. In other places they’d think you’re a fool. An entrepreneur in the Midwest will ask you to sign a nondisclosure agreement before he’ll say what he’s doing. In the Valley he’ll blab, he’s so excited. That N.D.A. is a waste.”

Hmm. Doesn’t sound like the sort of argument you hear in multibillion-dollar tech-related patent disputes. But Hwang argues that to develop networks of innovation, you must build “tribes of trust.” His set of rules he has entrepreneurs and investors and others sign: 1) Thou shalt break rules and dream. 2) Thou shalt open doors and listen. 3) Thou shalt trust and be trusted. 4) Thou shalt experiment and iterate together. 5) Thou shalt seek fairness, not advantage. 6) Thou shalt err, fail and persist. 7) Thou shalt pay it forward.

“On the Palestinian West Bank we’ve helped shape the work of 15 to 20 startup companies,

in a fairly isolated place,” he says. “In Bogotá my partner, Greg Horowitt, helped organize a convening point for the ¬entire startup industry.”

Where else should we look for future Valleys? The best places are refugee economies, where people have had to start from scratch. That’s why Israel has become so innovative, Hwang says: “Israel’s an interesting dichotomy, a zero-sum culture of tough negotiators but with a startup community based on collaboration and trust. The kibbutz was the foundational culture.”

Which American businesses get this right? Pixar. “They were so afraid of ¬becoming big and successful, they designed everything around a culture of continuing nascent creative talent. Also a lot of ad agencies. They have had to systematize the process of creativity.”

Hwang and Horowitt just published a book, The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley (Regenwald, 2012). The title reflects their belief that you have to see the Valley and the relationships it requires as a living environment, not an economic system. But isn’t a rain forest a place of brutality and lawlessness? “When we were in a natural state we all lived in highly trusting communities,” Hwang insists. “This actually reflects how human nature was at its inception.”

The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley (Regenwald, 2012).

2012 New Book- THE RAINFOREST: the Next Silicon Valley

The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley

Hwang, Victor W. and Greg Horowitt

Regenwald (304 pp.)
$12.99 paperback, $7.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-0615586724; February 4, 2012

BOOK REVIEW by Kirkus Reviews

In their debut business title, two venture capitalists offer an insightful, forward-thinking assessment of what makes

Silicon Valley tick.

If Silicon Valley can be held up as a living, breathing example of American ingenuity, why haven’t we been able to recreate it elsewhere? Hwang and Horowitt suggest that Silicon Valley is an innovation ecosystem they liken to a rainforest—hence, the book’s title. Thinking of Silicon Valley as a living biological system “helps innovators ‘tinker’ together in the same way that atoms ‘tinker’ together in natural biological systems ... [to] discover more valuable recipes for combining and recombining ideas, talent, and capital together.” The authors proceed to offer an engaging, highly creative analysis of the workings of a “rainforest,” using Silicon Valley as the prototype. They present 14 compelling “Rainforest Axioms,” for example, “Axiom #2: Rainforests are built from the bottom up, where irrational behavior reigns,” along with the “Rules of the Rainforest,” “Rule #4: Thou shalt experiment and iterate together.” The authors also explain how to build and measure a rainforest. The text is enhanced by well-designed graphic illustrations and explanatory charts. Hwang and Horowitt write with authority and wit, carefully backing up their theory with substantive examples. Readers get the feeling that the authors have unveiled a very big, important concept, one that could serve as the basis for intentionally, methodically developing other “rainforests” similar to Silicon Valley. However, they acknowledge that following the Valley’s winning formula is challenging, suggesting that “The Rainforest concept does not come naturally to many leaders” and that it requires “a new active capitalism” to create a rainforest. While Silicon Valley may not be entirely unique, replicating its ecosystem is no easy task.

A provocative study of innovation.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

2012 ACM-ICPC Asia New and Revised Rules

2012 ACM-ICPC Asia New and Revised Rules

I.                Definitions and Notes

1.    The Asia Rules must satisfy ICPC spirits and priority:

a. Geographic balance for the entire Asia – Balance is not by political boundary;

b. For the Asia site performance/growth 1 - Number of unique universities participating

c. For the Asia site performance/growth 2 - Number of unique teams participating

d. Special award teams (0-3 teams) by Asia Director each year.

(Team receiving this award must be ranked 15 or better in an Asia Regional site and the home university must have made substantial contribution to Asia Regional contests.)

2.    Contest Site Steering Committee and Contest Advisory Council.

(Please see detail guidelines in Specific 2012 Asis Rules.) Contest Councils have no executive, supervising or management authority over contest site steering committee. Contest Councils have advisory, assisting, and coordinating responsibilities to committee and recommendation duty to Asia Director for host nomination in all levels.  Contest steering committee is semi-autonomous and is reporting to Asia Director directly.

3.    Members of ICPC Asia RCD/Council:

The voting members of Asia Council consists of one vote from each Asia contest site steering committee and one vote from each approved Asia contest sub-council. The Asia Council meets once per year during the World Finals RCD symposium. (Next meeting: June 30, 2013 at St. Petersburg, Russia.)

4.    Terms and definitions:

a.     Sub-contests:

There will be only sub-contest(s) under each Asia Regional Site Contest from 2012. (Before 2012, there were sub-site contests under each Asia Regional Site Contest and they will not exist for 2012 and after.)

b.     Contest Registration:

Team registration must be entered thru sub-contests. Teams are promoted (copied) from sub-contests to Asia Regional On-site Contest by contest steering committee.  No direct registration is allowed to Asia Regional on-site contests.

c.     The 70-25-5 formula:

Counting for site participation initial scores will only count teams accepted and solving at least one problem in the sub-contests and in Asia Regional On-site contests. The 70-25-5 formula will be applied to the site initial score calculation:  Total number of distinct universities 70%;  total number of distinct teams beyond  the first team 25%; total number of teams in the provincial and national  (non-Asia host) contests 5%. The site initial participation score will be the sum of 70-25-5 formula.

d.     Site reduction factors due to double registration:

Site reduction factor example:

If the percentage of students with double registration is 80% in China, for example, then the site reduction factor will be 0.6 = (0.2 + 0.2+ 0.8) / 2. The final site participation score is the result of initial score multiplied by the reduction factor.

e.     Each contest participant can register at most two sub-contests in Asia and his/her team may be promoted to at most two Asia Regionals.

II.            World Finals Teams Allocation Formula for Asia 2012:

1.   Contest Site Basic Slot Shares – historical slot shares

(40% of WF slots allocated to Asia).

a. Add the number of WF teams from the last two years within each administrative sub-region to obtain the preliminary scores for each administrative sub-region.

b. The preliminary administrative sub-region scores are distributed to each site proportional to the site participation scores to obtain the basic site scores.

c. The site basic scores are then normalized to 40% of the WF slots to obtain the Basic site slot shares.

2.   Contest Site Bonus Slot Shares (60% of WF Asia slots.)

a.     The bonus score for each site is obtained by adding:

The current year site performance (site participation score) – 40%;

the growth of the site or area (increase site participation from last year) - 40%; and the innovation of contest site plus the need of the Asia growth -20%.

b.     Each site bonus score is normalized to 60% of WF slots to obtain bonus site

slot shares.

c.  The slot share for each site is the sum of Basic and Bonus slot shares.

d.  The teams advanced in each site are decided by applying 0.3 – 0.6 - 1.0  formula within each administrative sub-region until slot shares of all sites in the administration sub-region are exhausted. (Asia Director may elect different formula other than that of 0.3-0.6-1.0  when the situation demands.) The formula of 0.3 – 0.6 – 1.0 indicates 0.3 for foreign team and 0.6 for repeated domestic team to encourage international participation and to take care of the double registration complexity.)

3.   Discretional slots (0-3 slots)

Discretional slots by Asia Director are for the growth of ICPC Asia, for the contribution by a host university to Asia contests, and for the special award. (Teams receiving these slots must be ranked 15 or better in a contest site.)

4.   Slots offered by a steering committee

A contest site steering committee may offer slot to a team from other

administrative sub-region with a criteria approved by Asia Director.

III.          Absence in WF by an advancing team

     It is the team’s obligation to do everything to attend World Finals once the team has accepted the WF invitation. If the advancing team can not participate the WF for any reasons including visa issue, examination schedule conflict, financial difficulty or

student job status, the team must inform ICPC headquarter or Asia Director at least two months before the WF. Failing to do so, the team’s home university will be penalized that the university will be prohibited from sending team to WF for the next two years. This allows Asia Director to have enough time to obtain a replacement team. (No team member replacement can be accepted.) It is very important for all team members to take care of the passport, visa, school issue, job situation, and travel problem as early as possible.

Friday, June 8, 2012

2013 ICPC World Finals Call for Problems

2013 International Collegiate Programming Contest Finals

Call for Problems

The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest is seeking programming problems for the Contest Finals. Contest Finals Judges will be selected from among those who contribute problems. Each contributor must submit at least two problems, each consisting of

* a problem statement

* an estimate of the difficulty of the problem

* a brief description of the algorithm used in the solution

* a solution in C/C++ or Java

* a comprehensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) annotated test data set

All problems must be submitted by Tuesday, September 4, 2012.

This date is firm and cannot be extended.

I will send an acknowledgement when I receive a submittal. If you do not receive an acknowledgement within a week, please contact me again.

The "Guide for Judges and Problem Contributors" is attached. Please read this document carefully.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.

Dick Rinewalt

PS: Please forward this to anyone who is interested.


Guide for Judges and Problem Contributors

2013 International Collegiate Programming Contest Finals

Judges for the 2013 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest Finals

have the sole responsibility for producing the test problems (including test

data and expected results) used in the contest and for assessing the

correctness of solutions produced by teams competing in the contest. This

guide is an attempt to assist judges with those responsibilities.

Problems from previous Contest Finals are available at the ICPC web site

These may be used as further guides for producing problem statements.

If you have more questions, please contact:

Dick Rinewalt

College of Science & Engineering

Texas Christian University Box 298960

Fort Worth, Texas 76129

Office phone: 817-257-7721

Problem Statements

1. Each problem must be unambiguously described in English.

2. All problems must require input.

3. Unless the core of the problem is input/output related, the formats chosen

for input data and the displayed results should be relatively simple.

Still, the format of the input data and the appearance of the expected

displayed results must be described in suitable detail.

4. Multiple data sets testing different cases are appropriate; make the

problem statement include iterative data sets as input to avoid using

separate input files.

5. Anticipate questions about special cases. Where appropriate, explicitly

state that certain special cases will not appear in the input data. It is

not necessary to specifically identify the special cases that will appear.

6. Indicate the precision that is required for real results.

7. Contestants must write solutions for problems in a short time. While very

simple problems are not appropriate, neither are problems that require a

great deal of code; a few hundred lines of Java or C should be an upper

limit on what can be expected in a solution.

8. The program and chosen test data should not require excessive execution

time. Contestants' solutions may be less efficient than yours and so a

generous margin is allowed for execution. If your test data requires the

program to execute for a long time, then incorrect student solutions

(e.g., those with infinite loops) will take an excessively long time to

judge. We would like to avoid those situations.

9. The problem description (excluding sample input/output) should generally

require at most one page.

Judges' Solutions

1. For each problem you propose, prepare a solution in C/C++ or Java.

Solutions in multiple languages will be appreciated.

2. Include comments in your code, even though the contestants' code need not

be commented.

3. Make sure that your program correctly solves the problem! Include test data

that illustrates the generic and special cases that you expect the

contestants' solutions to handle.

Test Data

1. Data must be unambiguous when printed. Consider carefully those cases where

trailing blanks (or leading blanks, etc.) will make a difference in a

program that processes input data.

2. If several test cases are included, describe the manner in which data for

the test cases is separated in a single file.

3. Include a rationale for each of the test cases you provide. This will help

identify missing test cases as well as identify those cases where a student

solution fails.

4. Put a copy of the sample input data first followed by general cases, ones

which student solutions are likely to get. Stress tests (boundary values)

should appear last.

Submission of Problems, Solutions, and Test Data

1. Use electronic mail and send all files as either

* MS Word document,

* RTF,

or * flat ASCII.

PGP encryption is encouraged but not required.

My public key is attached to the end of this message.

2. Do not put your name in documents containing the problem statement,

solution, or test data.

3. Be discreet about problem statements and solutions. It is not appropriate

to discuss problems with people not involved with the contest.

4. Problem selection will be completed in October.

Judging Criteria at the Finals

1. Each solution proposed by a contest team will be judged as acceptable or

not. If not, at least one of the following comments will be returned to the


* Run-time error

* Time limit exceeded

* Wrong answer

2. Contestants may ask for clarifications of the problem statements. When

appropriate such clarification will be provided.


Each proposed problem must include the following components:

a) a problem statement

b) an estimate of the difficulty of the problem

c) a brief description of the algorithm used in your solution

d) a correct C/C++ or Java solution to the problem

e) a comprehensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) annotated test data

set for the problem.