Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Code Jam 2005

I tried my hand against around 5000 other programmers in Google's Code Jam 2005. Last year Windows corrupted the hell out of itself halfway through, when I had foolishly not saved any work. The time and concentration lost rebooting killed me. (I had the infamous anti-aliasing problem for my 500pt question. The lowest qualifying score from that group was in the 170s, IIRC. Google dialed down the difficulty considerably this year.)

This year I went into battle armed with Visual Studio 2005. TopCoder doesn't recognize any of the beta additions, but Studio 2005 has a pretty decent Emacs mode. Instant 10% productivity bonus!

The alert reader will have already noted the use of the past tense in the first sentence and concluded that I didn't make it into the top 500 to qualify for the next round. Correct; I missed the cut by 4 points (732 to the 100th place guy's 736).

Ouch. I'd kinda rather have been way outclassed than lose by 4 points out of 1000. Now I'm kicking myself for wasting time checking and re-checking that I hadn't missed something in the 750 pt problem before submitting. It was just so much easier than last year's 500 pt question that I thought I couldn't have solved it that quickly. Having to shake the rust off my C# (what do you mean, you have to declare types? That is so last century!) didn't help either.

Maybe next year they will have Python and the top spots won't be so completely dominated by C++ people with dozens of topcoder-specific macros. Grr.

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