The Ultimate Coding Champion

By Deane Barker on March 14, 2006

Programming Contest
Pits World’s Top Geeks
In Battles Over Coding
: TopCoder.com sponsors programming competitions, which are like geek cage matches:

Each contest has three programming problems — none of which are easy to describe in a short amount of space — that must be solved in 75 minutes.

In the 15-minutes of Round Two, the real fun begins. Contestants gain extra points by challenging the programs written by others. If you can come up with a scenario that will cause someone else’s program to fail, you get 50 points, and the original programmer loses everything. But if the program withstands your challenge, you lose 25 points.

A common strategy, explains Mr. Wurman, is to challenge every solution to a hard problem offered by newbie contestants on the assumption that they couldn’t possibly have gotten it right. Another approach is to press challenges based on the assumption that if you ran into a blind alley, then others did too and are just faking it when they post their “solutions.”

I found this via a good discussion on one of Spolsky’s forums about whether or not we have time to practice our craft, beyond just a code we write every day.

This is all very much related to my “Call for Memorization” from a few months ago.

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