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Programming IT Technology

Google Code Jam Winner Announced 325

Posted by simoniker
from the very-clever dept.
Wild-eyed Visionary writes "According to the San Jose Mercury News, Jimmy Mardell, 25, of Stockholm, Sweden, beat out more than 5,000 coders to win $10,000 in Google's second annual Code Jam programming contest. Second place: Christopher Hendrie (Canada), third place: Eugene Vasilchenko (Russia), fourth place: Tomasz Czajka (Poland). Tom Rokicki, of dvips/Radical Eye Software fame, was the oldest finalist at age 40."
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Google Code Jam Winner Announced

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  • by penguinboy (35085) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:08PM (#7482167)
    So what exactly did the winners' programs do, exactly? I saw no mention in the article.
  • by Pavan_Gupta (624567) <`pg8p' `at' `virginia.edu'> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:11PM (#7482186)
    I don't comment very often, but I always get a little tingly feeling thinking about how Google is one of the very few companies I see in the wide expanse of capitalism that seems to actually enjoy making their customers feel good about the fact that they are giving a little out of their own pocket/time. I would pay to use google, just becase google is not an angry behemoth like Microsoft, Walmart, or Big Bro.

    Congrats to the guys who won, and a special congratulation to Google for being my favorite company on planet earth.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Peridriga (308995) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:12PM (#7482192)
    fucking xenophobe....

    you run a company where you don't hire certain people b/c of arbitrary charecteristics and see how well you do.... I want to be your competitor so I can crush with w/ my diverse team of superior intellect and ability because I draw from a larger pool of talent instead of your artifically limited one....
  • by XorNand (517466) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:20PM (#7482228)
    Why is this a warning sign? Looking at it from a purely statistical point of view, the odds were not very good that an American would be among the winners. Stop being so narrow-minded, there are bright people from all over the world--America and abroad.
  • Yay Jimmy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YodaToad (164273) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:34PM (#7482302)
    I just want to take the time to congratulate Jimmy on a job well done. I knew someone from the "TI Community" would make it big some day.

    I'm sure everyone who's ever owned a recent TI graphing calculator (TI-83 and up) will remember zTetris, among other puzzle games, that Jimmy wrote.

    Jimmy Mardell [ticalc.org]
  • by XorNand (517466) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:39PM (#7482321)

    Your two aforementioned companies are both publicly owned. They are legally bound to do what is in the best financial interests of their shareholders. The actual owners of the company are not involved in the daily management and have only one, single-minded reason for owning stock: profit.

    When Google finally bites the bullet and has a billion dollars in other people's money, a old-school board of directors, along with the need to please the SEC and Wall Street analysts, things will change drastically. You'll suddenly see Google become much more conservative because they have so many interests to look out for and competing voices to listen to.

    Then some other upstart, agile company will usurp the crown and be the geek's new flavor-of-the-week. It's just how capitalism works. The moral: Don't get to blindly attacted to Google or you're going to feel deeply betrayed--they *are* only a business after all.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monkeyfinger (683580) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:01PM (#7482426)
    Last time I checked, Google was an AMERICAN company. You think that they would have the decency or the patriotism to give at least one award to an AMERICAN. Sorry Google but you are no longer my search engine of choice. Altavista here I come.

    Decency? This was a competion and the best men won, what's indecent about that?

    Patriotism? If google ran a crooked competition where an american got a prize they didn't earn would that make you proud? Wouldn't it be better to keep trying until you win fair and square and then take pride in that?

  • by Cokelee (585232) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:10PM (#7482479)
    Shouldn't it be scaled to the coding population, not just the population? You're scale assumes that everyone in the country is a potential programmer.
  • by KalvinB (205500) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:40PM (#7482632) Homepage
    Considering only 24 people are ranked for Sweden and over 1300 for the US, it's not surprising we're ranked lower. We've got a lot more people trying (and failing) which lowers the overall score.

    It'd be interesting to see how our top X compare to another country's top X or just who has the top coder over all.

    The statistics as they are, are pretty much meaningless.

    Ben
  • by danielrm26 (567852) * on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:50PM (#7482674) Homepage
    "Of course there are. There are ~300 million Americans. There are over 5.7 billion other non-Americans."

    That argument doesn't hold water when you account for the penetration of computers into the lives of those 5.7 billion vs. our 300 million.
  • by Corpus_Callosum (617295) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:52PM (#7482684) Homepage
    I just got done taking a look at www.topcoder.com. I must say, outside of a few real competition related challenges, this site appears to me to be a complete exploitation scam to get practically free consulting.

    The people who are competing for prizes are, AFAICT, donating their labor to solve real problems for real companies. Take a look at the set of current "competitions" here [topcoder.com]

    Or, how about this quote (trying to lure "customers", ahem... Donations for competitions):
    What Our Customers Are Saying
    "What makes Topcoder unique among component library vendors is their development strategy. It harnesses the strength of the global development community that has been so effective in creating the GNU tools, Linux kernel, Apache and the rest of the components that have formed the backbone of the modern day Internet, ensuring quality through rigorous peer review and testing while at the same time providing the contributors some additional incentive to participate in the process."

    or, this one:
    Over 30,000 developers are competing to build your next application. Learn how TopCoder delivers high-quality software at a lower cost than the competition.

    So, do you want to work for free, for a chance to win less than you would have made in your job to do the same thing? All for the opportunity to get listed as a good coder on a site that exploits you?

    If so, be embarrassed... Be very embarrassed.
  • Totally worth it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freeweed (309734) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:57PM (#7482713)
    One-hundred hours of my time is worth about $7,000 (100 hours * 70 dollars per hour salary).

    Just to clue you in to a little known fact:

    The vast majority of people in developed countries make nowhere near $70 an hour.

    I'd venture that a lot of the people going in for something like that probably make more in the $10-20 range.

    $10,000 is a hell of a lot of money for someone just starting out, or not making $140,000 a year like yourself.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nutbar (138893) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:03PM (#7482741) Homepage
    It's that kind of closed minded bigotry that makes people the world only get pissed off at americans. The sun does not shine out of your ass because you were born in the USA.

    Sorry to the americans that *aren't* like that - as with most things, the few spoil it for everyone.

  • by spectecjr (31235) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:04PM (#7482748) Homepage
    The problem with TopCoder is that it emphasizes hacky brute force solutions over elegant / high performance ones.

    Which is all well and good if you need to hack something out real quick, but if you need to get something stable, robust, high performance and high quality, you're talking about a whole different set of skills.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre@nospAm.geekbiker.net> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:26PM (#7482866) Homepage Journal
    The American thing to do is pick the best man (or woman) for the job, regardless of their national origin. That is what makes this country great.
  • by MisterFancypants (615129) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:42PM (#7482930)
    Google is smart, not "Good". If you think they are really the champions of the common man, consider the fact that they actively help the Chinese government censor most of the net for its citizens.

    I use google all the time, because they know what I want, not because they are some sort of do-gooders... Because they aren't.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cidtek (632990) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:48PM (#7482953)
    That's not patriotism your talking about, that's nationalism.
  • by MSBob (307239) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:54PM (#7482981)
    Poland's math and computing education is modelled on the soviet degrees just like in the rest of the Eastern Europe and are much tougher than anything in the West. Course notes are essentially like reading Knuth's TAOCP. I think only MIT could give Eastern European Universities a run for its money.

    They don't have many universities (for the size of the population) but they provide some of the toughest, highest quality courses in math, engineering and Computer Science.

    I spent only three years in a Polish high school (they normally last four or five years) and went straight to a third year of a top British University in their Electrical Engineering programme. All of the math required was covered in the first couple of years in my high school.

  • by gubachwa (716303) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:56PM (#7482996)
    Meritocracy is the way to determine who knows their stuff and academic merit does not hold up well to real world merit in my experience. Of the best coders I have ever met many are college dropouts ... .
    Sigh. This debate seems to rage on without ever coming to a adequate conclusion. Does having a degree in Comp. Sci. mean you're a good coder? Obviously not. But it does actually indicate some very important things that may determine's one success in the business world.

    First of all, a Comp Sci degree consists of more than simply programming courses. In fact, instruction in particular programming languages is minimal in any decent Comp Sci program of which I know. What you learn instead are concepts, which if you learn them adequately, you should be able to apply to any number of situations. Besides computer related courses, you are also required to take courses that may be in unrelated subjects like (gasp!) English, History, Philosophy, or the Arts and Social Sciences in general. Being able to succeed in a broad range of courses and being able to learn abstract concepts indicates to an employer that you can do more than just code. Frankly, I would rather take a job that requires a degree than one that doesn't, because chances are that the job that requires a degree will allow some career mobility and won't restrict you to solely being a coder for the time during which you are at the company. The job that requires only that you know umpteen million languages or software products basically means you will be confined to a very narrow role while you're employed in that job, and when those particular tasks are no longer relevant to the company, you will be expendable.

    I have worked with "college dropouts" in the past, and my experience has not been the most positive. Some of them, I agree, were very good coders, but this seemed to be the extent of their abilities. There were certain aspects of the product on which I worked that had a more mathematical bent, and when these aspects of the product were discussed among the degreed developers, those without the degrees seemed to have no clue what we were talking about.

    Having said all that, I have also worked with degreed developers who are incompetent. But, in general, my expereince has been that those with a degree are better overall developers than those without. I think people in the business world realize this as well, and that is why a lot of jobs in the software industry require a degree.

  • by be-fan (61476) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @05:23PM (#7483117)
    Um, this isn't the Olympics. The government of Croatia does not go out of its way to get the best 11 coders to sign up for it. "Croatia" really has nothing to do with it. It just happens that the 11 programmers who happened to sign up from Croatia were better than the average US contestant. The only thing you can argue is that a sample of 11 programmers it not large enough to be statistically significant --- and thus not an accurate representation of the average programmer in Croatia.
  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj@gmai l . c om> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @05:38PM (#7483191) Homepage
    I just don't understand loyalty to companies based on anything other than price and product/service quality.

    It's actually very easy to be loyal to smaller companies that still have a human face. As companies grow they usually jump off the cluetrain [cluetrain.com] and become impersonal assholes in order to extract maximum profit. Google is set to do that.

    I'm sure COSCO is your kind of company though... cheap slave-products.

    --

  • by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @07:49PM (#7483760) Homepage
    They helped google figure out how to do some things apparently their own programmers could not do...free consulting. Don't have the cash on hand to hire 5,000 programmers? Hold a contest and generate IP for free!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:56PM (#7485051)
    Kids would be stupid to pick the tech field. The only thing stupider would be to say you wanted to work on an assembly line or something. Those jobs are going going gone...
  • by spectecjr (31235) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @04:47AM (#7486243) Homepage
    NASCAR requires you to drive as fast as you can without regard to safety of others and has no relevance to real world driving situations. Therefore I would never be a NASCAR driver.

    Stupid argument. Draw your own conclusions


    Note that when you win NASCAR, the trophy you get isn't for "Safest Commuter Driver" either. TopCoder, however, supposedly ranks developers according to their talent and ability. This is not, however, what they are doing. They're ranking them by their ability to come up with quick hacky solutions - not real software engineering.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 16, 2003 @06:48AM (#7486487)
    Yes, your argument by analogy is stupid, as it entirely ignores the issue at hand.

    As for what one can conclude from the TopCoder FAQ --
    they say they're looking for ways to make their contests
    measure coding skills other than quickly hacking out minimal algorithms to simple problem descriptions. Therefore one can conclude that that's all their contests measure.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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