Optical microlithography is the technique of printing a set of shapes on a wafer using light transmitted through a template called a mask. Repeatedly printing and stacking such shapes on top of each other to build electrical circuits allows us to manufacture chips in high volume. However this technique has now reached its fundamental physical limits of resolution. Current 193nm wavelength light is no longer sufficient to reliably transfer patterns which are now in the sub-100nm dimensional range. This has led to increased research in optimizing lithographic masks to pre-compensate for distortions introduced by the lithographic process. This is called mask optimization. In this contest, students are provided with a sample lithographic model which simulates the transfer of a mask pattern on to wafer. The mask is assumed to be a pixelated template, where every pixel can be turned on or off, to indicate where light passes through, or is blocked. Contestants are also provided with models to predict the robustness of their pattern i.e. how much variability is in the transferred pattern. Given these tools, the objective is to minimize the variability in the wafer image, as measured by process variability (PV) bands. This is subject to the constraints of runtime and satisfying pattern fidelity i.e. the transferred pattern should resemble the target pattern. Benchmarks are provided in the form of collections of geometric shapes, each of which provides a challenge in printing at sub-wavelength. © 2013 IEEE.