Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Programming Stats

Russian Programmers Dominate At Google Code Jam 159

Posted by timothy
from the steady-diet-of-brain-food dept.
New submitter Migala77 writes "Now that the third round for Google Code Jam is finished and only 25 contestants are left, we can look at which nationalities performed well and which didn't. Code Jam contestant foxlit has the stats, and some interesting things can be seen. Although there were over 3000 contestants from India in the qualification round (17% of the total) , only 3 of those managed to reach the third round (0.7% of the round 3 contestants) . This in contrast to Russia with 77 out of 747, and Belarus with 13 out of 114 reaching the third round. The U.S. performed somewhat below average too, with only 25 out of 2166 contestants making it to the third round."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Russian Programmers Dominate At Google Code Jam

Comments Filter:
  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:54AM (#40294273)
    Take a look at where the best compression algorithms come. Almost all come from former Soviet bloc countries. India isn't surprising either, as many American companies have found out from outsourcing.

    Or these results don't reflect anything about the quality of the programmers from a country, and rather the bias of who found out about the Code Jam (lots of everyday Joe programmers, vs those in-the-loop).
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:59AM (#40294315) Journal
      What I find interesting is the relative cull rates. As might be expected for a large country with some major IT activity, India was well represented at the starting round, but the subsequent rounds knocked 3 factors of ten off the total. Russia and Belarus both only took about one factor of ten, and the US around two...

      Numbers per-capita, much less absolute numbers, aren't wildly interesting; but those are some fairly dramatic differences in attrition...
      • by DemomanDeveloper (2658739) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:15AM (#40294475)
        Russia dominates in technical computer stuff because during the last decades of Soviet Union, the government greatly pushed and spent money for computer education. It's one of the things that actually worked in Soviet Union's communism.

        There's a reason why StarForce (the notorious almost impossible to crack DRM), sophisticated malware, one of the best antivirus software (Kaspersky), cracking of software and games and other highly technical stuff and algorithms originate from Russia and other CIS countries. The fall of Soviet Union led to tons of highly capable programmers without work and income, so some went to dark side while others spend time on good things. Nevertheless, both sides are filled with highly capable people, all thanks to Soviet Union's appreciation to computer technology.
        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @06:24PM (#40301945) Journal

          Russia dominates in technical computer stuff because during the last decades of Soviet Union, the government greatly pushed and spent money for computer education. It's one of the things that actually worked in Soviet Union's communism.

          I wouldn't say that USSR had a lot of money spend on computer education. I grew up there, and the first time I saw a computer was when my father took me to his work, and that was already after I was in school.

          What Soviets did spend a lot of money on, though, was education in hard sciences in general, but especially math, with physics a close second. If your brains were wired for it, you would get noticed pretty quickly and moved to a specialized school where you'd have 15 hours of math per week by the time you graduated. From there, a fast track to the appropriate degree in the uni, free so long as you can pass the entry exams (which, by that time, you usually could with ease).

    • by gutnor (872759) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:18AM (#40294505)
      There is also the motivation of the contestant. I would expect a lot of Indian to enlist just with the hope to increase their creds or make their resume stand out, that would mean a bigger proportion of lower skill applicant.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:41AM (#40294769)

      Hell even the Indians educated here seem to be fairly useless. Adept at rote learning, useless as engineers. It's cultural.

      • by Larryish (1215510)

        The Indians were at a disadvantage.

        Russian coders are like machines.

        Why?

        Because in Soviet Russia, computer programs YOU!

    • Almost all come from former Soviet bloc countries. India isn't surprising either, as many American companies have found out from outsourcing. Or these results don't reflect anything about the quality of the programmers from a country, and rather the bias of who found out about the Code Jam (lots of everyday Joe programmers, vs those in-the-loop).

      For India, look at the GSoC numbers as well. India and USA seem to dominate it

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:58AM (#40294311)

    Why are you looking at nationality? What are you trying to prove? Is this the 1936 Summer Olympics?

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:13AM (#40294449)

      Why are you looking at nationality? What are you trying to prove? Is this the 1936 Summer Olympics?

      Differing national funding priorities in education Appear to result in differing results in a competition leading to Very Pointed Questions about those funding priorities.

      Frankly I'm flooring the Indians did so miserably. What is wrong with their educational system WRT CS/IT? On thing is sure, the winning solution is not just throwing money on the table, Russia was an economic disaster when these competitors were growing up and learning. The Russians are doing "something" the Indians are not doing.

      In a way it IS very much like the olympics, although more cold war era than 1936 era.

      • by P-niiice (1703362)
        The Russians are doing "something" the Indians are not doing.

        You mean running multiple scam rings and botnets and fleecing the entire internet?
    • by mblase (200735)

      Why are you looking at nationality? What are you trying to prove? Is this the 1936 Summer Olympics?

      Obviously, if one nation has a substantially higher proportion of winners in a competition like this, it suggests there's something in the national culture that encourages it. Other nations would like to know what that is. It's not pride, it's post-game analysis.

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:59AM (#40294313)

    ...the strong emphasis on mathematics and science during the Soviet era. Just throw in a bit of Lysenkoism to carry its fruits into the current generation, and presto, world dominance!

  • Consolation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @08:59AM (#40294319)
    At least the US is still number one in financial scams and reality TV. Snooki can't program.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And we still have the Kardashians!!!!!!

    • by vlm (69642)

      Microcode and high speed pizza delivery.

  • Sergey Brin and tell him to keep these Russians away from dominating this American company... oh yeah.... nevermind

  • Economics and chess (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MetricT (128876) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:15AM (#40294473) Homepage

    Someone once told me this, and it makes sense to me...

    It takes a lot of money to fund a lab in medicine, biology, chemistry, experimental physics, but computer science, theoretical physics, and mathematics basically require just a computer or pencil/paper.

    Because Russia is relatively poorer and has fewer labs relative to its population compared to, say, the USA, Russia's brightest minds naturally gravitate towards the "cheap" sciences, and that largely explains why they punch substantially above their weight in those fields.

    I've also heard it's due to Russia's love of chess, which score one for them, I *really* wish would catch on here.

    Either way, they're definitely doing something right.

    • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:22AM (#40294557)
      And because their best and brightest aren't pushed by their parents to join the sea of Lawyers.
    • I've also heard it's due to Russia's love of chess, which score one for them, I *really* wish would catch on here.

      In my youth I held a master's rating in chess, and my profession is software development, but I don't really think chess was particularly helpful in that. (But then I was a competent but less-than-great chess player and certainly not a superstar developer, so maybe that doesn't mean so much.)

    • It's not just computer tech being cheap - it wasn't back in time. Russians high sophistication in computer technology can be mostly thanked to Soviet Union's appreciation for highly technical computer stuff and algorithms. The love for chess too.
    • Or they're just smarter than us, hiding their cure for cancer ~~
    • by citizenr (871508)

      Someone once told me this, and it makes sense to me...

      They lied.
      Poland is second in those stats with half the people, better cull percentage, quarter of Russia population, and virtually non existent Chess culture :)

    • by aralin (107264)

      Experimental physics, chemistry, biology and medicine are VERY dangerous when drunk or hung over. That's the only reason. :)

    • India is even poorer than Russia, so your theory doesn't really pan out... My theory is Indian students who can't get into med and law school have no choice but to a) get a CS degree or b) disappoint their family. Result: Reasonably good Indian lawyers and doctors, hopeless everything else
  • by Mannfred (2543170) <mannfred@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:19AM (#40294509)
    It seems to me that part of the dynamic here is that highly skilled programmers in the US have less of a need to prove themselves in a competition like this - they probably already have good salaries and good jobs. Programmers in poorer countries are probably not as fortunate, though, and taking part in an international programming competition could provide a ticket to a more lucrative future working for a Western company.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Balanced by most recent US grads (around 50%) are un- or under- employed yet have gigantic student loans to pay off. Obviously the ratio is lower in a "real" degree like IT or CS, but there's still plenty of very hungry skilled USAians.

    • Ditto that! This applies IMHO to other 'areas of endeavour' where former soviet countries have an unusually strong presence. For example....fashion modelling. It's not like that russian/ukrainian/whatnot women have some kind of ..."hotness gene" -although their phenotype does often help when it comes to modelling e.g in terms of height- but due to the flaky financial situation, a good looking girl in these countries if a *lot* more motivated to try a lucrative international carreer as a model compared to an
      • by sapgau (413511)

        Huh? There are no hot chicks where you live? I didn't understand you logic at all!

    • by sapgau (413511)

      Or, given a stable job and income you will die to show off your office buddies how you managed to qualify at code jam.
      They will just have to listen and wish they were as smart as you.

      You only live once!
      XD

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:29AM (#40294617)

    The Mighty GOOG entrance numbers are within an order of magnitude of the project euler membership numbers. I think you need an account on PE to see the stats:

    http://projecteuler.net/countries [projecteuler.net]

    For those who don't want to "compete" in PE but want to know the numbers anyway, I copy some from the article and from PE's registration data:

    over 3000 GOOG contestants from India vs exactly 4300 on PE
    747 Russian GOOG contestants vs 2269 on PE
    114 Belarus GOOG vs 254 on PE
    2166 USA GOOG vs 21563 on PE

    I don't know much about the GOOG contest but I would guess the Venn Diagram of the GOOG and PE is almost entirely overlapping.
    A good question is why less than a tenth of USA PE people competed in the GOOG, yet almost all the India PE people competed in the GOOG.

    As far as the elite levels go, this is very superficial, but the names of "first 50 to solve a PE problem" and the names in the forums on PE seem to trend very asian, so Japan might only have 1900 or so contestant, but they're all Ruby Ninjas with leet skills, or whatever. I wish I had real numbers other then vague observations.

    Another interesting observation is that the Mighty GOOG short term contest is vaguely roughly around half the size of the permanent/ultra long term PE project.

    As a PE guy or player or contestant (or nerd?) I can personally verify that PE is higher mathematics and hard core computer science with virtually no IT component. I don't know anything about the innards of the GOOG competition, can anyone involved describe the ratio of CS::IT or logic::memory in the Mighty GOOGs competition? Also PE merely requires any Turing complete language (although some problems can be solved by non-Turing complete languages anyway, and some can be done on pen and paper if you're hard core or its a REALLY easy problem), does the Mighty GOOG require something specific like Java only or maybe even more specific like "must be an android app" or something like that?

  • Language? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:29AM (#40294621)
    In America, a student who is good at math, science and CS is called a nerd. In Russia, such a kid is called smart. Seriously, Russia has always kicked ass in science and math education. We should copy their schools.
    • Re:Language? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:47AM (#40294825)
      The problem isn't the schools, it is the culture. The schools aren't the ones labeling kids good in STEM, nerds. That is a hard thing to do when the culture idolizes idiots and liars(sports and entertainment, pick your associations).
      • by vlm (69642)

        As a parent of grade school students in a district with a STEM school, the kids are made fun of for going into a field where they'll be outsourced. Some parents call it the outsourcing school.

        The schools are almost perfectly focused on the fields most likely to decline in the future, which is scary. Its as if special "automotive assembly line bolt turner" high schools were set up in Detroit in the early 70s, just dooming the kids to life long poverty. Pretty sad situation.

        Now there's nothing wrong with c

        • Re:Language? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:06AM (#40295875) Homepage

          What do you suggest an alternative? The US needs to export something to buy all that foreign made tech, the mainstream commercial porn industry is in freefall, and the German amateurs are already giving away most of the sick niche stuff free.

          Lawyers to sue the world, politicians to tell them that it's OK to do so, and grunts with guns who make it OK to do so. Did I miss any?

      • by zr (19885)

        it is indeed cultural, but its not so much that the russians dont call nerds nerds, they do. its that good teachers are treasured (not always by higher salary, admittedly) and are given MUCH MUCH greater leeway in terms of pushing children to excellence.

        there was an incident not long ago when a teacher was accused of sexual harassment, in russia, the parents of his pupils raised to his defense in perfect unison. which is indicative of the fact that a good teacher can be assured of support if he (or she) is

    • by zr (19885)

      i regret to say, if you did copy (good) russian schools, half of teachers would be fired and sued for child abuse.

      oh, and by the way, russian teacher unions (where there is such a thing which its relatively rare) would _laugh their asses off_ if they knew a teacher can't prep for a class for more than an hour.

      just saying.

    • by dmt0 (1295725)

      In America, a student who is good at math, science and CS is called a nerd. In Russia, such a kid is called smart. Seriously, Russia has always kicked ass in science and math education. We should copy their schools.

      I have news for you. In a typical Russian school, a kid with a higher than average GPA would be called a Botanist (which is somehow considered stereotypically the most boring subject ever).

      • I have news for you. In a typical Russian school, a kid with a higher than average GPA would be called a Botanist (which is somehow considered stereotypically the most boring subject ever).

        The word "botanik" (which literally translates to "botanist") doesn't actually have to do anything with botany. It derives from "botan", which is to say, a person who always "botaet" - which is a contraction of "rabotat", "to work".

        In other words, the Russian word for "nerd" is literally "a guy who works a lot".

        Being one myself back in Soviet/Russian school I'd say that the attitudes these days are not dissimilar to the kind of experience American nerds describe, though perhaps slightly better because Russi

    • Re:Language? (Score:4, Informative)

      by SolitaryMan (538416) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @01:11PM (#40297771) Homepage Journal

      As somebody raised in the Soviet Union I can totally confirm that. In Soviet Union culture (movies and even pop music) scientist or just smart in a scientific sense guy wins. A lot of Soviet era TV shows were about smart people competing (kinda like Jeopardy) and these shows made them TV stars and kids were looking up to them.

      Unfortunatelly, this changing now. Partially due to American culture influence.

  • by deodiaus2 (980169) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:50AM (#40294853)
    The Russians have been doing this sort of thing for years in math.
    I would think that these sorts of contests are something that new CS students would notice and prepare for. Now, this presents the opportunity of getting noticed by the West, the chance for getting a schlorship at a school like Berkley, and potentially employment at a rich American company being paid in dollars is icing on the cake.
  • The Google Code Jam competition - at least the event we are talking about here - is 100% in English, which emphasizes the Russians performance.
    And don't count on the translation programs... the problems are pretty complex and an automated translation would generate many ambiguities (or even mistakes).

    Regarding the performance itself, from Round 1 (after the qualifications round) the problems are very Math-oriented. A competitor with a background in mathematics is clearly having a huge advantage. Even the
  • Interesting to see that Australia is the highest ranked native English speaking country (12th overall). Also interesting that United States cumulative total was only 3% ahead of Indonesia. percentages from rounds 1, 2 and 3 added together: Belarus 166% Russia 152% Japan 142% China 140% Taiwan 137% Ukraine 135% Poland 132% Hong Kong 128% South Korea 110% Netherlands 109% Vietnam 107% Australia 102% Hungary 100% South Africa 98% Sweden 98% Greece 98% Thailand 96% Germany 90% United Kingdom 89% Bangladesh 87
  • But God help you if you need to maintain their code, because I absolutely guarantee you that they won't.
    • But God help you if you need to maintain their code, because I absolutely guarantee you that they won't.

      We wouldn't want to leave you good American folk jobless, so for every job of yours that we steal, we create two more. It's called proletarian solidarity, comrade!

  • by Moskit (32486) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:07AM (#40295895)

    Take a look - it's not just Russia with high scores, but also Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.

    Western nations fare much worse, especially as a percentage of guys who make throught. It seems as if more people in USA were convinced of their skills and participated, while EE attracted only those who actually have the skill. This corresponds with real life and self-confidence. EE people seem to judge themselfes harder than others and don't participate in such events even if they have skills.

    In any case it's sad to notice that excellent programming skills do not translate to excellent commercial success - many of those talented work for Western companies, do not create good domestic ones.

    Feel free to point out if I'm wrong here.

    • So, all countries where good Hockey Players come from too then.
    • Take a look - it's not just Russia with high scores, but also Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.

      i.e. countries that were all socialist in the past, and had inherited their education system from that period.

      There's a lot of negatives that can be said about the USSR and other regimes aligned with it, but one thing they never skirted on was solid scientific education - especially after all the bullshit with Lysenko and Marr and other "proletarian sciences" was thrown out after Stalin.

  • 54% of Russians have a college degree. That's the highest percentage in the world. Why are you surprised that they win competitions that require high IQ?

    • That doesn't say anything about intelligence. The number of degree holders in the US has been increasing but I certainly wouldn't say intelligence is rising.
    • Not sure I follow what you are saying. Get a college degree and raise your IQ? Or are you saying Russians have a higher percentage of college graduates because they have a higher average IQ than other nations? I don't think either is accurate because from what I can find Russia actually averages slightly (an insignificant amount) below US is IQ scores. So... I disagree.
    • 54% of Russians have a college degree because it's free to get. In the USSR, it was free if you were good enough to pass the exams (and that percentage was lower). Today, it's free if you're rich enough to pay a bribe to get in.

  • So much for being an IT superpower....
  • I wonder if it has anything to do with that particular countries education system? I'm generalizing but it seems that in some cultures (India and China for example) a lot of emphasis is placed on memorization and learning by rote. Creative thinking seems to be stressed more in North American and European schools. Those creative thinking skills seem to lend themselves particularly well to solving complex multi-dimensional programming problems - thinking outside the box if you will. It's not really a function
  • No "I for one welcome" joke??

  • I was looking at the stats to see why Brazil and other S.American countries didn't fair so well (Brazil had 520+ participants!). When look through the first problem I see that it makes reference to something that is "one-to-one" and "onto". While many Americans know that a "one-to-one" function is an injective function and an "onto" function is "surjective" many people from other cultures/languages may have a hard time understading what they're referring to.

    Since this is a programming contest and not a lang

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

Working...