Google Code Jam 2008

I joined this year’s Google Code Jam.

It’s part of my characteristic competitiveness and arrogance that I actually imagined I had a chance at winning the contest. No such luck, see my results. I was eliminated in the second online round. That I managed to get there at all was surprising considering the level of difficulty.

I’m not really a com-sci guy, so I’m weak with regards to algorithms, I don’t always know what the best approach for particular classes of problems – I usually just brute force it then try to optimize based on my on-the-spot analysis of each problem. It seemed it wasn’t enough; there were a lot of hardcore guys who were able to get perfect scores, and I salute them.

I’m not sure whether I’ll still participate next time, as the problems don’t seem to be geared towards someone of my skillset. Still, the fact that I managed to pass 3 rounds (including the qualifier) indicates some potential for winning. And I was one of only two Filipinos who made it to round 2! Good luck to the last guy…

After the code jam, I’m thinking of taking a look at TopCoder.com which hosts weekly programming contests. I’m not sure whether I’ll really have time, but I’ll probably try it once or twice to see how well I fare.

This was a very humbling experience; even though I consider myself a pretty good programmer, there’s always someone better.

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