1. MATLAB Contest Report - 6/10

The contest has been going on for over four days now, we are very

pleased to see the active participation by many MATLAB programmers

around the world. The top score has progressed from the initial 1174

to the current 263.96. Quite an improvement.

There have been two intermediate prize winners. The first one was Peter

Acklam, whose entry 'lolomove Tweaked VI' was at the top spot on

Wednesday (June 9th) 5pm EDT. The second one was Paulo Uribe, whose

entry 'SingleRov II' was at the top spot on Thursday (June 10th) 5pm

EDT. The next prize has a little twist. Instead of given to the top

spot occupant at a certain time, we decided to give it to the first

person who beats the score of 200, whenever it happens.

Before we put it out to the public, we had a MathWorks internal

contest for the same problem, to test the scoring function and other

factors. It is interesting to see that the evolution of the

submissions followed the same route both internally and externally. The

general pattern is a breakthrough followed by many tweaks until the

next breakthrough (algorithmly speaking). Some of the techniques that

worked so far are:

1. Go straight if possible, this is because turning costs an action.

2. Using transition matrix for the orientation. This technique can

make the code clearer and improve the speed (avoid MOD or REM function).

3. Look ahead several steps instead of just at the next neighbors,

this is like adding a telescope to the rover, we are moving in the

direction from local optimization to 'global' optimization.

4. The most important breakthrough is to handle each Rover alone

instead of handle 5 rovers at each step at the same time. This turned

out to be more effective (which is contrary to our natural instinct).

This was first introduced by Ram Rao in his 'Serial Rovers'.

Unfortunately, it didn't do very well due to other factors. We are

glad to see it come back in Paulo Uribe's submission.

5. The last interesting technique introduced today by Roger Stuckey is

to build a wall around the map, so that we can treat the boundary as

internal forbidden region. It saves a lot of CPU time avoiding

constantly checking if a rover is at the boundary.

More and more people are participating now, there are over 100

submissions so far. We still hope more people will come to join the

fun.

Come on and give it a try at http://www.mathworks.com/contest.

------

Zhiping You

The MathWorks Inc.

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