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The World's Greatest Competitive Programmer

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the wait-for-the-congressional-hearings dept.

Google 202

An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review profiles Petr Mitrichev, who has since 2005 dominated the world of competitive programming, a little known sport where competitors furiously code for five hours in pursuit of glory and cash prizes worth tens of thousands of dollars. Mitrichev now works for Google, and competes only for leisure, but is still ranked number one. Many large tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, now sponsor and pay close attention to competitive coding contests, seeing them as a place to recruit new talent."

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LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906627)

Might as well have a world's greatest virgin competition...

Re:LOL (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906659)

We're talking about coding competitions here, not posting-to-slashdot competitions.

Re:LOL (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906801)

Heh. Speak for yourself. A friend of mine lost his virginity in Phoenix, at ACM conference, and we were there for the college programming contest. It must have been '94/'95 or something. The organizers were generous, and we ended up at a fancy bar after the closing dinner. We were happy with how we had done, and success + cash is VERY attractive to some women.

Actually, I think that the whole 'computer nerds have no girlfriends' is a obsolete tropes. The losers in their parents' basement, maybe. But nowadays computer interests translate in employment, responsibility and ultimately financial security... My colleagues have better marriages than my neighbors.

Re:LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906899)

watch who you call 'loser'. it could've just as easily been you.. you and your 'colleagues' just won a lottery.. there aren't enough positions to go around no matter how good the programmer is. besides being relatively wealthy, most of the programmers I've met are also politically correct bitches who do what their wives tell them to, making them perfect pets for their feminist indoctrinated wives. that might make the marriages 'successful', on the outside, but the psychological dynamics on the inside are inhuman.

Re:LOL (3, Insightful)

coldfarnorth (799174) | about 2 years ago | (#40907003)

Woah. I'm surprised you can type with that chip on your shoulder. Ease up there . . .

Re:LOL (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907087)

not a chip. it's the truth most peoples' egos won't allow them to see.

Re:LOL (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | about 2 years ago | (#40907129)

lmao. what do you write, cobol? there are tons of programming jobs out there. i'm finding about 10 good candidate jobs out of every 50 i look at. i get solicited for my skills all the time. maybe you need to move to where the programming jobs are at.

most of the programmers I've met are also politically correct bitches who do what their wives tell them to, making them perfect pets for their feminist indoctrinated wives

back the truck up. this is what normal people call a "married man." the wife doesn't have to be feminist and the man doesn't have to be a programmer. i get the feeling you live in a very remote place and never travel more than a 20 mile radius from your home. have you even kissed a girl yet?

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907227)

i'm finding about 10 good candidate jobs out of every 50 i look at.

Are you dull? What matters is how many good people are applying for each job.

i get solicited for my skills all the time.

Then either your existing clients are asking for more work, which is barely solicitation, or you believe all those e-mails from recruiters.

The programming market in the US is awful. Unless you're already a senior programmer, in which case you're fine unless you're in an unfashionable field and have just been made redundant, it's extremely hard to get a job. I say this as a business owner who watches excellent candidates scramble for employment.

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907585)

The programming market in the US is awful. Unless you're already a senior programmer, in which case you're fine unless you're in an unfashionable field and have just been made redundant, it's extremely hard to get a job. I say this as a business owner who watches excellent candidates scramble for employment.

Correction: The programming market in the US varies by region. In the Midwest, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an available programming job.

I have heard that the situation is much as you describe along the East and West Coasts, though.

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907279)

lmao. what do you write, cobol? there are tons of programming jobs out there. i'm finding about 10 good candidate jobs out of every 50 i look at. i get solicited for my skills all the time. maybe you need to move to where the programming jobs are at.

There aren't enough positions to go around, sorry. Most of those opening you see are either already filled, or are open for a reason. A negative one.

back the truck up. this is what normal people call a "married man." the wife doesn't have to be feminist and the man doesn't have to be a programmer. i get the feeling you live in a very remote place and never travel more than a 20 mile radius from your home. have you even kissed a girl yet?

So doing what your wife tells you like mom to son is what constitutes a married man today? You know what? You're right! Pathetic, isn't it? Guys like you who revolve their self worth around their success with women are a big part of this problem. Keep flagellating yourself sir. Maybe, if you do it enough, maybe women will like you more! Fire off all the ad hom you want, it doesn't help your case.

Re:LOL (-1, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40907833)

What does "imao" stand for, "ignoring my ass off?" Oops, sorry. You're just too lazy to use the shift key. Does your resume look like that? Do you think it looks "133t" or something? Well, it doesn't. It makes you look like a punk teenager trying to be cool, and makes your writing unreadable. BTW, I noticed the AC you responded to was also a lazy fuckoff who can't use the shift key, no wonder he can't find a job.

Re:LOL (1)

Tuidjy (321055) | about 2 years ago | (#40907199)

> you and your 'colleagues' just won a lottery

Sure, it sounds like a lottery. No way the ACM finalists would be able to find jobs on the basis of their skills alone. It has to be luck.

"I believe in luck. That's how I explain the success of people whom I hate and envy"

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907633)

Intelligence is luck, just like retardation. No-one was born "deserving" their intelligence or stupidity.

Envy is a rational response to the arbitrary hands nature deals. Religion teaches us that envy is bad because, well, then you might actually dare to speak up against the status quo. This is why Western children are taught from a young age that envy is wrong.

That's not what your parent was arguing, of course. Though perhaps it should have been.

Re:LOL (1)

Sun (104778) | about 2 years ago | (#40908049)

Intelligence is luck, just like retardation. No-one was born "deserving" their intelligence or stupidity.

So far, so good.

Envy is a rational response to the arbitrary hands nature deals.

There is nothing rational about envy. Rationally, some people have to be smarter than others, just as some people have to get lucky. It is not rational to discriminate against smarter people for being smarter, nor is it rational to try and eliminate luck.

Religion teaches us that envy is bad because, well, then you might actually dare to speak up against the status quo. This is why Western children are taught from a young age that envy is wrong.

I don't know about "wrong". Envy means wasting time and energy over things you cannot, and probably shouldn't, change. You can prevent a certain undeserving (whatever that means) someone from being popular or successful, but you simply cannot prevent undeserving people, in general, from being so.

Spend that energy you meant to burn over jealousy and anger into making yourself better, for whatever definition of "better" that suites you (richer, more educated, better married, whatever), accept that some people will always be better, by your own criteria, than you, and you will lead much happier life than by being envious.

I don't know whether envy is a "bad" thing, but it is certainly counter productive and unhelpful all round.

Shachar

Re:LOL (0)

hackula (2596247) | about 2 years ago | (#40907403)

Hm, is it the lottery where everyone wins who buys a ticket? Every programmer I know who is reasonably up to date and has one modicum of social sense (the bar is quite low here. Pretty much "don't creep out the HR girl in the interview by talking about your assault rifle collection" should cover it) gets 3 or 4 unsolicited calls per week from recruiters begging for them to interview. Seriously, get a Linkedin profile, write "programmer" in the skills section, and watch the emails flood in. If your skill set is 30 years out of date and you use nothing but AS400 RPG2 or you refuse to use a mainstream platform/language then it is your own damn fault. If you have any experience in C# or Java, and cannot get a job, there must be something horribly horribly wrong (other languages are good too, and I do not actually use much of either at work these days, but they are currently pretty much job-guaranteed languages).

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40908081)

But... but... it's a really awesome assault rifle collection! Each unit lovingly wrapped in the skin of a dead woman's underwear. What would be the point of it if not to get a job easier?

I even wrote some software specifically to organize it by age of the victim.

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907189)

A friend of mine lost his virginity in Phoenix, at ACM conference, and we were there for the college programming contest.

The fact that the 21+ year old guy that didn't lose his virginity until college is being held up as an example of success with the ladies among programmers is fucking hysterical.

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907893)

Yes, because success with the ladies (if you can even call most of them that nowadays) is the only measurement of worth men have, right?

Re:LOL (3, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40907261)

I think maybe back before the 80s when you had to be really hard-core to be committed enough not only to own a computer but to actually be willing to put in the effort of being proficient with it on a technical basis, many of the people in that category were probably the stereotypical nerd. These days with the easy availability of hardware and the accessibility of tools, a much more representative cross-section of the population is getting into the game. I'd say at least 2/3 of the successful programmers I know are just common ordinary dudes that while not being overtly alpha like a jock are certainly not what you would associate with the live-at-home basement dweller we all joke about. As a matter of fact most of those basement "nerds" are usually just gamers and enthusiasts that can regale you with the minutia of which sata cable is the best and which graphics card is the most value for the money but would be totally lost without a GUI to click on. And you can forget about them being able to program anything as who has time for that when there's a RAID, MAN!?!

Re:LOL (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40907391)

If you can convert being a computer nerd into a successful component of your career it can certainly help attract women. If your computer nerd behaviour is your life, without anything but personal fulfillment from it (i.e. you happily lounge around in your underwear eating twinkies and can't get a decent job) then you're unlikely to have much success with the ladies.

The effect of being employed by google or facebook helps a lot too, since non tech people at least know those companies exist. I know a guy who used to work at ATI (when it was still ATI). When women asked where he worked rather than saying "ATI" he said "I design computer parts at a company at the 404 and 407" (404 and 407 are highways that anyone in toronto would know, though technically ATI HQ is one block west of that at Leslie). That made a big difference in his success with the ladies, and took him quite a while of failed attempts to impress saying ATI to find a better strategy. In *any* technical field it's really important to know how to relate to people who aren't in that field and the computer nerd stereotype can very much be overcome if you just assume people you meet know absolutely nothing about the computer industry, and don't act like they should.

Re:LOL (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40906829)

Might as well have a world's greatest virgin competition...

...

Which makes me ponder, by what metric would we measure the "world's greatest virgin?" Ability to remain abstinent in the face of constant temptation?


Damn you, AC, you just stole my afternoon...

Re:LOL (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#40907007)

Eunuchs have an unfair advantage.

Re:LOL (0)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40907115)

Shit, that ain't nothing. Look at these two ladykillers at the world's fastest typist competition [youtube.com] . You know that bearded guy has never seen a vagina before in person.

That's all gonna change now that he's the world's fastest typist, though. Fame, fortune, and beautiful women await!

As a Professional Developer... (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40906649)

As a Professional Developer, competitions hurt my ego, so I will come up with scores of excuses on how competitive programming isn't a good measure of one skill. I prefer to keep the illusion that I am the best programmer out there, just because I tend to out perform my peers.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

Minupla (62455) | about 2 years ago | (#40906687)

Wow - Mod this one +1 Honest :)

Min

Re:As a Professional Developer... (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40906691)

It's a decent measure, but not a great one, since it adds a time-based component. Saying that being the best competitive programmer is a measure of overall skill is like saying the best speed-chess player is the best overall chess player. It simply isn't true (although it could be, it usually isn't), although the speed-chess player is undoubtedly very good.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906749)

*someone's* jealous.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906759)

Sure, some of the technically best programmers are slow as hell, but these companies want their products out fast. I'm not surprised they shop there.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 years ago | (#40906765)

Exactly. Is it impressive? Yes.

Is it an effective metric to rank skill? no not really.

Heard of the slow food movement? (3, Interesting)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 2 years ago | (#40906825)

They appreciate quality food that takes time to prepare.

So do I. I don't give a rat's tail what you can come up with in 2 hours. What are you wise enough to come up with in two years?

Re:Heard of the slow food movement? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40906975)

If you absolutely must do a food analogy you would do better to compare McDonalds "food" with a fancy gourmet restaurant. Certainly for a given number of employees in a limited amount of time, serving up Big Macs will always win any unit production or economic profit contest, but...

Or if you're willing to permit inter species competition you've got the whole flies on dog poop thing and "a trillion flies can't all be wrong" etc etc.

Re:Heard of the slow food movement? (5, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40906977)

Has anyone ever compiled a report on the longer term noteworthy projects of these competitive programmers? I'd be interested in seeing if there is anything I use regularly or admire would be on the list. If they aren't cut out for that I'd bet they'd make hulluva sys-admins though.

Re:Heard of the slow food movement? (3, Insightful)

Rev Saxon (666154) | about 2 years ago | (#40907181)

Its actually a lot hard to be a sysadmin than most developers thing...

Re:Heard of the slow food movement? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40907297)

I agree completely. To be really good requires a vast knowledge that spans much more than the couple of programming languages the typical programmer knows. I didn't mean to disparage sys-admins at all. As a matter of fact, I meant it complimentarily as a large part of being a great sys-admin is being able to figure out the problem and act now! Sometimes with furious finger slapping in shell script or SQL cli. Much respect for those guys.

Re:Heard of the slow food movement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907611)

Similar to an AC below, I was also a competitor in similar competitions (ACM ICPC, CS Games (Canadian)). It takes a certain skillset and dedication to be any good at them. I was one of the top in a small CS program at a small university, which let me compete in that uni's team. We would constantly get clobbered by the neighbouring university. They had a huge CS program compared to ours, which means a much larger selection pool, and the competitors lived and breathed algorithms and competitions. I bet if you woke them up in the middle of the night, they'd recite the Longest Common Subsequence algorithm flawlessly. My impression, however, was that it was all they did, and not much else. To contrast, I've always pushed myself to have broad CS and software dev knowledge, and I never really had the motivation or ability to rise to their level.

If I were hiring, would I take someone who is the top at these competitions? Well, I bet if they were working on something like an accounting package or e-commerce, their code might turn out to be full of hacks, or they'd get bored and quit. If I were in charge of optimizing image processing or protein folding? These guys would probably churn out miracles on demand.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40906845)

Is it an effective metric to rank skill?

Yes it is maybe not the skills you care about, but it is most assuredly a measure of skill. I could see how having someone on the team that has almost immediate insight into how to solve complex problems would save an entire team time. Doesn't mean the same person is the best choice to sit down and write the enterprise level code to actually implement their insight though.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907195)

Is it an effective metric to rank skill? no not really.

I wonder if hiring managers understand that?

Maybe they do, or maybe it just helps dumb their job down a great deal so they don't care.

You know, the part where you sit a candidate down, make them solve problems on the spot, while others in the room hover silently for an hour or so and then make a decision on the spot without ever asking them about real-world experiences and results?

In fact, I wonder if we understand that?

It's a strange and ironic industry we live in where we tout the ability to stack, rank and analyze anything given the right data, the right algorithm, the right computation and one day we turn around and see we can no longer compete with the flawed metrics we have created. HR and resume "screening" are now so fucking broken as to be entirely useless. We automate the process, save the business money in the short term and then, only later realize we can no longer find candidates because of the system we've built.

But, if we want to push this competition, etc. aspect, then let's do so for other industries:
* Heart Surgery Arena: Two surgeons battle it out to come in under the clock and fix Timmy's heart.
* Lawyer Smackdown: Two lawyers compete to earn points from a jury by trying to free/convict a suspected murderer.
* The Great Ambulance Race: Teams compete to deliver a heart attack victim to the nearest ER. Teams may hit unexpected detours caused by invalid insurance.

Oh, wait, those people are too fucking smart to let that ever happen....

Re:As a Professional Developer... (4, Insightful)

hackula (2596247) | about 2 years ago | (#40907705)

Never hire a programmer without sitting them down to write some code. The problems should not be very difficult or specialized. You would not believe how many people I have spent an hour interviewing, was totally sold on, then when they had to write out FizzBuzz it turned out they had absolutely no clue what they were doing. People will flat out lie to you about there experience and many are quite believable due to their memorizing talking points about some language or framework. Testing sucks, but hiring someone woefully unprepared for a position is worse for everyone involved.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906911)

But in this case, the tests revolve around algorithmic processing. The irony is that one possible question is to code a bot to play chess.

Where this guy seems to shine is in his ability to come up with the best algoroithm quickly given his "quick starts". He doesn't have to figure things out on paper. He can determine the proper algorithm quickly. Somethign that transaltes into cost effectiveness due to less up front time costs in the real world.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906921)

Of course, overall, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page are the best programmers.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907583)

I hope that you're kidding here.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906953)

Regular chess still has a time component.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (5, Interesting)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40906957)

Does nobody remember an article on Slashdot a few years back?

1. The top programmers are 4x as productive as the average one.
2. There are some problems the top programmers can do the average ones cannot no matter how much time they were given.

If you don't fall into that category, and you probably know if you do, don't bother.

Actually the fastest guy would probably benefit from a small audience of programmers pointing out he missed a semicolon or that array is wrong-sized somewhere. This would be obvious to you as such a top programmer.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

hackula (2596247) | about 2 years ago | (#40907589)

...Because there is no time component to real world projects? IDK what planet you work on, but for every hour I am late my client gets to go at my limbs with a machete for 10 minutes.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906793)

...excuses on how competitive programming isn't a good measure of one skill.

Oh, I disagree, there is no doubt it is a good measure of one skill.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906819)

Given the right academic task, I wouldn't be surprised if some of your peers can beat you at it.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

LifeIs0x2A (2615925) | about 2 years ago | (#40906821)

Same here.. After being somewhere in the peasant area on Topcoder for years and having been refused a job as software developer at Google in the first interview round, I wonder how I can still make a living more or less programming all day long. Wait, maybe that's why it takes all day for me to finish things. The guy in the article would finish all my work in five minutes :-) Well, at least that probably means that software / hardware development is not just about raw coding skills.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (5, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40907125)

After writing this, I got on a little bit of a tangent so it isn't all necessarily directed at you, LifeIs0x2A so don't be offended if it seems slightly condescending or obnoxious.

If you're proficient in practically any language, find a small under 10 person company to work for and it almost doesn't matter what you do they'll think you walk on water. Of course, do a good job out of professional pride if nothing else but in small businesses the IT guy that "makes shit happen" gets a ton of respect. Early in my career I started out at a sports wholesale distributor that wanted to insource their IT stuff. A friend of a friend heard about it and got me the interview. As a hobbyist I was already proficient in Python, Java, and web technology in addition to odds and ends like AutoIt and the ilk. I aced the "interview" which was basically, "Can you do computer stuff?" and got started. There was so much slop that could easily be automated I was like a kid in a candy store. One minute I was writing a custom database front-end that shortened the 20 minutes it took to enter products into the website to about 2 minutes and the next moment I was working on the sales/CMS application the salespeople (when it was finished) started running around with. It was great. It got to the point that the bosses daughter was bringing me home cooked meals to my desk everyday already heated up and ready to go. I'll stop there.

The point is if Google won't hire you then fuck them. If you have some skills then alpha the fuck up and network. There are plenty of opportunities for the taking.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (4, Interesting)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 years ago | (#40907229)

Amen to this. A mega-corp turned me down because my MA is in anthropology despite the fact that my BS is in computer science. Working in a small shop where my tasks for the day may include programming in: C, Python, PHP (ugh), or Perl, doing network troubleshooting, or administering our Linux servers is a lot more fun than 8+ hours of pure programming every day. As always, your mileage may vary. I certainly know a lot of people who are doing just fine working at the same task day in and day out.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (2)

LifeIs0x2A (2615925) | about 2 years ago | (#40907263)

If you're proficient in practically any language, find a small under 10 person company to work for and it almost doesn't matter what you do they'll think you walk on water.

No offence taken. Why do you think I founded my own company? :-) Like that I can witness myself walking on water every single day!

It got to the point that the bosses daughter was bringing me home cooked meals to my desk everyday already heated up and ready to go. I'll stop there.

I have to admit, that sounds tempting..

The point is if Google won't hire you then fuck them. If you have some skills then alpha the fuck up and network. There are plenty of opportunities for the taking.

Right, actually it was a good thing they didn't take me. I think what I'm doing now is the right way.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40906851)

Alternatively, "There's a worls of competitive programming?"

My ego won't be hurt. Have at thee!

Hmmm...gonna need a ready-made framework for I/O so I don't waste precious seconds redoing it each time...

Re:As a Professional Developer... (3, Insightful)

SolitaryMan (538416) | about 2 years ago | (#40906861)

I'd say that the biggest problem here is that being good at these competitions does not necessarily mean that one would provide great value for the company and it does not even have much to do with technical skills. In the real world the problems are never well defined, the "scoring" rules are non-existent. Then, there are "people" skills.

I don't want to diminish this guy's achievement, I know for sure he is a great developer in all other respects, but these competitions measure only one projection of a skill on a specific axis.

Name your price! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906987)

I'd say that the biggest problem here is that being good at these competitions does not necessarily mean that one would provide great value for the company and it does not even have much to do with technical skills.

Speed programmer in interview, "I win competitions where I write code fast and it works."

Employer, seeing a proven productive programmer that will reduce development costs, "You're hired!"

But go ahead, all of you tell yourself how you plan more, design better, think about the problem and come up with an optimal solution - while your meter is running. Go ahead and try, just try, to convince a company that your way is better than the speed programming champion.

ROI talks, bullshit walks.

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... talk to the hand!

Re:Name your price! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907051)

I'd say that the biggest problem here is that being good at these competitions does not necessarily mean that one would provide great value for the company and it does not even have much to do with technical skills.

Speed programmer in interview, "I win competitions where I write code fast and it works."

Employer, seeing a proven productive programmer that will reduce development costs, "You're hired!"

But go ahead, all of you tell yourself how you plan more, design better, think about the problem and come up with an optimal solution - while your meter is running. Go ahead and try, just try, to convince a company that your way is better than the speed programming champion.

ROI talks, bullshit walks.

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... talk to the hand!

And yet, Google, Apple, Facebook, et al are constantly forced to keep buying out companies made of people they evidently didn't hire and aren't cutthroat speed freak coders so they can get a jump start on solving problems their speed freaks DIDN'T solve.

No, no, that's wise business sense. Hiring the slick competition coder for $200k/year and then having to buy out another company that did the job right for $50M two years later is economical.

Re:Name your price! (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40907649)

And yet .... Google is the one with the 50 mil to do the buying.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40907023)

You forgot the most important part from an economic standpoint, maintainability.

I can squirt out multi line regexes that are not troubleshootable by anyone, not even myself. Very quickly too. Doesn't mean its a good long term idea.

You know you're in trouble when the fastest way to debug a big mass of regex is to rewrite it from scratch.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906889)

I am not the best programmer out there.

I don't think I'm even "one of the best".

But I am fairly sure that this sort of competition does not measure anything relevant to most workplaces or to academia.

Just like a SAT or an IQ test or any other number of things which may be statistically indicative of potential but don't actually measure useful output, this sort of thing is interesting but no substitute for actually examining someone's experience in the real world.

In fact, I'm probably better at short, sharp speed tests than the slog engineering of the real world, so I'm putting myself down by putting this guy down. But it's like arguing that being good at recreational mathematics means you're going to be a good mathematics researcher - yeah, someone who is exceptional at the former will probably be better at the latter and vice versa, but we don't actually need to do anything with that information. We acknowledge it and let people get on with their work rather than pigeonholing them earlier than necessary.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906895)

As a Professional Developer, competitions hurt my ego, so I will come up with scores of excuses on how competitive programming isn't a good measure of one skill. I prefer to keep the illusion that I am the best programmer out there, just because I tend to out perform my peers.

As a former competitive programmer (ACM/ICPC, TopCoder, UVA, IPSC, you name it) and a long time professional programmer (going on 13 years now) I have to say that I have never seen such a rate of improvement in my programming abilities as the couple of years that I took competitions seriously.

These improvements included not only coding speed, but also high accuracy under time constraints, the ability to predict and analyze edge cases and weird scenarios, thinking about efficiency in terms of Big-O and implementation specific constants, and a lot more. Not to mention a good working knowledge of a lot of data structures and algorithms most programmers never even hear about, which is a given for any competitive competitive programmer. These traits, I think you agree, are what every good programmer could use.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40907045)

I was an early Beta Tester for TopCoder... That turned me off to the competitive programming thing. (even though I won... Only because I was the only one who submitted code... It didn't even compile, they didn't bother telling us what was needed to compile the code. I tried uploading my Jar file, I tried just uploading my source... It compiles fine on my computer but just not on the TopCoder. I was tremendously frustrated with it.
They probably have fixed it sense the early Beta Days. But sense then the idea of competitive programming just turned me off.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907183)

Really? A buggy BETA version of a web site was all it took to turn you off of programming competitions?

There's nothing wrong with just saying you don't like the competitions, but to blame a BETA version of a site years and years ago for why you don't compete is just sad, really.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40907291)

First Impressions, are always the biggest ones.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#40907025)

I used to read the alumni magazine USC sends me. About 10 years ago I started an article about some woman who was upholding USC standards yada yada, and she had three patents, fed starving children in Africa, brought ponies to the poor kids in Australia, helped fight an Ebola outbreak in, wherever, Canada or something, and was now starting a tech business, and on and on...

Turn the page to her photo and details. She's... 26 years old. That was the turning point for me. Well, one of them.I realized I was shit and started hating the world. Some people just have what I call the life force, and I know I don't have it, and no, it's not intended as a SW reference.

I built an awesome mountain temple this week in Minecraft, though... has an indoor forest... yeah, I suck. :(

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907203)

Don't say that. You're awesome. You know what I did this week? I watched someone else play a video game on twitch.tv. At least you're producing.

From there, it's just a matter of perspective and motivation to get yourself out there making the differences you want to make in the world.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

PhamTrinli (2700335) | about 2 years ago | (#40907695)

"life force" is something you can develop its not just something you are born with, although I also think people are born different. Also bear in mind that our society rewards people who fit a certain mold, and from your summary this woman ticks all the boxes.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#40908149)

Oh, I'm not a strict nature or nurture type by any stretch, but I can't escape the sense that there is some inadequately defined factor involved. It could be one or the other or a function of both. People call it drive or ambition but what I'm trying to describe seems to be an unconscious source that leads to those other things.

All I really know is that I don't have it. My head is full of neat projects, but I no longer have the ability to see the point to doing any of them, and even when I did it seemed more like a chore than a fun hobby.

Or I'm just farting in the breeze. As ever.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about 2 years ago | (#40907295)

My thoughts precisely. I can wish upon a star that I had that talent, but instead I'll just wish upon my biweekly paychecks that I can continue to outpace my peers and make my bills.

Re:As a Professional Developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907815)

As a Professional Developer - source code or it didn't happen!

Street Corner Of Programming (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906843)

A place where you can programmers that can give you quick, dirty code that gets the job done but ultimately leaves you with a disease.

Does the fastest code handle all cases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906873)

While there is a huge difference between a good coder and an average one, I always preferred one who thought out all the possible data cases and programmed not just for the norm but for the exception. Not to mention one who spent more time on creating test cases than actual coding. And doing speed tests of the code. The life cycle costs of the great programmer's code is so superior to the average that it is worth while paying the price to get it right the first time it goes in a customer visible release.

I've seen bug fixes cost more than the original functionality cost to create.

Said from a perspective of one who mucked around with OSs for 37 years.

Fast != Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40906881)

This competition produce the fastest programmer.

I was under the impression that a good programmer had a clear and easy style, was writing comments etc.
Do you really think that's what's mesured in these competitions ? I'm sure their code is horrible.

Re:Fast != Good (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40907079)

That's like saying it's silly to swim the butterfly because it's more efficient to swim the front crawl, or saying it's silly to not use your hands while playing soccer. It's a competition, you can argue whether it's measuring the right thing or not, but this guy seems to be the best. Why don't you enter one and see how you do?

The Fast and the Furious... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#40906927)

...a little known sport where competitors furiously code for five hours in pursuit of glory and cash prizes...

That was the original story line for a movie [wikipedia.org] , but I hear Vin Diesel preferred cars over code.

Re:The Fast and the Furious... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#40907083)

"That was the original story line for aÂmovie
, but I hear Vin Diesel preferred cars over code."

Yes. The one about coding was starred by Emacsn Gasoline instead.

Re:The Fast and the Furious... (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40907511)

Why isn't this +5 funny yet?

Re:The Fast and the Furious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907565)

Vim Gasoline

So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40906947)

. . . which drugs are we supposed to take, to improve our performance? Will they institute doping controls?

All REAL sports have drugs. If your sport does not involve drug enhanced performance, it isn't a REAL sport.

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (1)

AugstWest (79042) | about 2 years ago | (#40906993)

Ritalin, Adderal, the list goes on.

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907131)

Modanafil, dextroamphetamine

I'm a machine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907033)

that turns coffee into code.

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (1)

Ichoran (106539) | about 2 years ago | (#40907037)

Caffeine?

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907089)

Alcohol. [xkcd.com]

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#40907097)

Red Bull and Mountain Dew?

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (1)

mkkohls (2386704) | about 2 years ago | (#40907427)

. . . which drugs are we supposed to take, to improve our performance? Will they institute doping controls?

All REAL sports have drugs. If your sport does not involve drug enhanced performance, it isn't a REAL sport.

As you should all know it's alcohol [xkcd.com] .

Re:So if programming now is a REAL sport . . . (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40907497)

Sadly, drug abuse is actually quite prevalent in the sport.

The World's Greatest Competitive Middle Manager (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#40907081)

As a manager, our tests are a bit more strenuous reflecting the importance of the synergies of many diverse skills. The dynamic test includes email with a certain threshold of cc’s to disinterested parties. We get bonus points for lunches out and extra points on top of that for lunches paid for by vendors. A second part of the exam includes writing unintelligible memos and unfollowable policies. Tests are administered through the cloud, using value-added third-party vendors. Oh yeah, more bonus points for using management speak words.

I'm world champion, baby.

Privacy issues (1)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#40907179)

Seems interesting that the registration link is not https

http://www.facebook.com/hackercup/register [facebook.com]

Re:Privacy issues (5, Funny)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#40907507)

Maybe not secure, but they developed the site in 21.3 seconds.

Detroit Public Schools HS programming teams (4, Interesting)

logicassasin (318009) | about 2 years ago | (#40907235)

I went to high school in Detroit in the late 80's and, believe it or not, there was an official city-wide high school computer programming league much like the high school sports teams. We were given a list of individual tasks and had to write a program in BASIC on IBM XT's and the entire event was timed. Each working program was dropped onto floppy and handed to the judges to execute with their own data sets and we were scored based on time to execute (if it took too long it had to be rewritten) and if it actually worked.

I led my school's team to 3rd place three years in a row back then. I had often wondered if there were leagues like this in other cities. Not sure if it still exists either but it was great back then.

Re:Detroit Public Schools HS programming teams (1)

Wordplay (54438) | about 2 years ago | (#40908003)

I did this sort of thing in high school in the late 80s during individual regional contests, but never in league play. That would have been fun!

Sprint vs. marathon. You need them both. (0)

sgtrock (191182) | about 2 years ago | (#40907239)

There are times when you need someone who can come in, find a quick hit solution that works, and moves on. There are also times when you need someone who can sit down, thoroughly analyze the situation, devise a long term plan to resolve it, and stick with it through to completion.

Re:Sprint vs. marathon. You need them both. (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#40907481)

I don't think they do programming contests for large scale projects that need to be reliable, accurate, and thoroughly secure ... such as a banking system. I would not put a whole lot of value in contest wins when hiring developers for such projects.

Re:Sprint vs. marathon. You need them both. (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#40907711)

If you start off with the second person, you generally do not need the first person.

I have nothing against these sorts of contests, but I'd rather see a competition where a developer writes an elegant solution to a problem in some reasonable amount of time, and *documents their approach completely*.

Code poorly designed and without a good set of documentation is a perishable asset to any business that has changing needs... which is most of them.

Videos of Mr. Petr Mitrichev coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907449)

Check out his blog for videos/screencasts of him coding [blogspot.com]

made the mistake of hiring one once (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40907471)

Once. Consistently ranked in the top 5% on a lot of these coding competitions. He's really fast. Gets amazing things working in remarkably short time. Unfortunately they're an unmaintainable mess, and tend to be packed with bugs. They work for exactly the cases known at the start (well, sometimes only even most of those), and break as soon as they find a new edge case. We got a very low to possibly negative net productivity out of him.

Re:made the mistake of hiring one once (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907977)

I'm sorry that I let you down, sir.

for x=1 to 10
writeline ("Forgive me");
next

Spades (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#40907567)

Let's call a spade a spade.
Companies aren't funding this shit to look for top talent, they're funding this shit to look for efficient monkey slaves.

Amazing that he does this for relaxation now (1)

PhamTrinli (2700335) | about 2 years ago | (#40907631)

I've done these while preparing for a job interview, and they are really hard (apart from the earlier competitions). It's amazing to me that this guy does them for relaxation. It shows just how different people can be, or how plastic the brain is.

High-level vs. Low-level coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907651)

If your algorithms change or need to be adjusted frequently then you may need to modify the relative level of the coding. For example, if you go to a doctor they won't tell you a bunch of medical jargon and expect that you know what it means...even though they're precisely explaining what is going on, what will transpire, and what the solution is; they will tell you in terms that you can understand. The same is true with programming. For very complex algorithms that can be maintained by a couple people you have more flexibility with how low-level you can be with the data structures and overall design. If you have a vast set of algorithms that many people must maintain the it make sense to "dumb" it down a little and focus more on creating a maintainable codebase rather than something overly complex.

"I code to win for me!" (1)

Trashcan Romeo (2675341) | about 2 years ago | (#40907989)

"For me!"

lambda lamda lamda! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40908101)

On your mark!
Get set!
Nerds!!!

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