The Contest – What and Why

Turing machine is an extremely simple abstract model of computation that is powerful enough to embody any computer program.
TIC (Turing machine programming International Contest) is the first international competition of computational thinking using a Turing Machine Simulator, with the aim of training students from all over the world in computational thinking, as the use of the Turing Machine is the best possible start for a training for computational thinking.
The usage of the Turing machine can be explained in a 15 minutes lesson, and no specific mathematical or computer skills are required. However, some training is needed in order to develop good skills.
Before the competition, the organisers will provide exercises and solutions, and students will be able to interact with an online tutor to solve their doubts. Online training will start approximately in May 2020, with videos and material in English.
In Italy, the national competition “Gara nazionale di programmazione della Macchina di Turing” takes place every year since 1996, engaging hundreds of high school students involved in computational thinking using Turing Machines.

Skills required by contestants

The competition tasks are of algorithmic nature but no knowledge of computer programming languages is required.
Programming a Turing machine helps developing the computational thinking and requires the ability to create algorithms that, with very few possible operations, can solve problems of different degree of complexity. Despite their simplicity, Turing machines possess the same computing expressivity of any modern computer when it comes to compute mathematical functions. Logical thinking and the ability to define algorithms using the simple simulator syntax are required to address the competition problems.
In any case, in the months before the competition, the organisers will provide exercises and solutions, and students will be able to interact with an online tutor to solve their doubts. Online training will avail of ad hoc videos and material in English.
The TIC contest will be held on October 2nd: students will work in pairs and will try to maximize their scores by solving a set of particular problems during the competition day. In the days before the competition, training events will be organized where participants will be followed by a team of tutors.

Who can participate

Students from all countries born after 29 Sept. 2001 and before 30 Sept. 2006 are allowed to participate. They will compete in pairs.
Each couple of students, together with an adult in charge, compose the country team.


The first edition (29 Sept-4 Oct. 2020) will take place in Italy, in the city of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, which is one of the most beautiful islands of the Mediterranean Sea.

Terms of participation

One team from each country can send a request of participation to the following e-mail address:
Applications are accepted on a first come first basis.
Formal applications will be requested after confirmation of participation.
In principle, only one team per country is allowed to participate, in order to have the largest number of countries represented.
The participation of around 50 teams is expected.
All teams will be hosted in Cagliari starting from the day of arrival (September 29th) to departure (October 4th). The organisers will provide accommodation for five nights, food and program.
A minimal participation fee of 150 EUR is required to all participants.
Travel costs to and from Cagliari are not provided.
March 27, 2020: deadline for informing (by an e-mail message) about your intention to participate with a team of students – Please note that participation requests will be accepted on a first come first basis.
April 15, 2020: confirmation of acceptance by the Organizers
May 10, 2020: deadline for sending the official application form (online) and the payment of 150 EUR per person (450 EUR for each delegation)


The winners of the “Turing machine programming International Contest” will be awarded a scholarship of different cash amounts to the first, second and third prize.

First prize:  scholarship worth € 6,000
Second prize:   scholarship worth € 3,000
Third prize: scholarship worth € 1,000

The amount is shared equally between the two members of the teams.


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