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Programming Education

No US College In Top 10 For ACM International Programming Contest 2013 199

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-number-one-sometimes dept.
michaelmalak writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970s, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there hasn't been one in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."
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No US College In Top 10 For ACM International Programming Contest 2013

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  • by Seumas (6865)

    Can someone draw us a diagram that explains the submission?

  • . . . we're still number one in obesity, right?

    . . . and . . . how come I never get those programmers when my company outsources . . . ?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      . . . we're still number one in obesity, right?

      Uhh, no... [washingtonpost.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:53AM (#44247383) Homepage

      . . . and . . . how come I never get those programmers when my company outsources . . . ?

      For the same reason you never get a knowledgeable person if you dial a helpdesk.
      Those outsourcing countries have internal markets as well, including normal programming jobs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      TBH a lot of these people are not the kind of programmer you'd want to outsource your average business app to.

      It's really more of an algorithm competition. The programming part is mostly concerned about getting a correct implementation, quickly. The winners tend to be people who 1. know a lot of algorithmic theory, and 2. can write and keep track of fiendishly complex code, with emphasis on conciseness.

      I'm sure many of them can write clean and maintainable code as well, but it's not a requirement for this c

    • by mc6809e (214243)

      There probably is a correlation between obesity and a slothful mind, present company excluded, of course.

  • *shrug* (Score:4, Informative)

    by coaxial (28297) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:51AM (#44247363) Homepage

    So what? I don't see any of those schools being real power houses of innovation either.

  • College might be considered a waste of time by the best programmers.

    Another possibility is that the very clever are washing out of school before they even get to college. I once saw a study that suggested (not proved) that something like 20% of high school dropouts in the USA might be gifted.

    In my experience most of the attention in public school goes to those that are ultimately ineducable. Gifted students are just expected to be fine without help. If they dropout, though, they're less likely to be program

    • I once saw a study that suggested (not proved) that something like 20% of high school dropouts in the USA might be gifted

      I would have thought it was closer to 80%. You have to be pretty smart to see the writing on the wall as a teenager.

    • Maybe that's what happens when you start teaching Python as an introductory language instead of Scheme?

      Also worth noting that you can study and practice for these competitions, there are books explaining good training routines. So it's very possible those countries just practiced harder for the contests.
      • So it's very possible those countries just practiced harder for the contests

        Quite true. Another possibility is that 'those countries' won fairly.

        • Quite true. Another possibility is that 'those countries' won fairly.

          I'm going to assume by "won fairly" you mean, "won because their universities are better than ours." Because I consider winning by practicing harder to be fair.

          That's what the article seems to be worried about, are the CS programs in those countries better? As if I have any idea.

          • That's what the article seems to be worried about

            Damn! You got me.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            I won more than my share of programming contests when I was in high school. It has less to do with the quality of the school than the caliber of the student. The skills follow the students, not the professors. If they don't get a pool of skilled freshmen every year, there's nothing the school can do to get them to the caliber they need to win these things. I was programming in BASIC from about age 8, making my own programs on my VIC-20, because I didn't get all the cool games of the C-64. By age 12, I
            • You're high school programming contests weren't nearly the difficulty of an ACM programming contest, sorry.
              • by AK Marc (707885)
                I just looked up an example. It was noticably easier than a number I had seen in high school.

                But thanks for presenting your incorrect opinion as fact. Reminds me I'm on Slashdot, where people think their ignorant opinions trump reality.
                • An example, eh?
                  • by AK Marc (707885)
                    An example, as in an actual question from a previous year (2009):
                    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1842587/can-you-answer-this-2009-acm-international-collegiate-programming-contest-finals

                    What an actual question from a few years ago doesn't count as a valid example? Whassa matta, proven wrong too often today? I don't have an example from the competitions from 20+ years ago to compare against, so I'm sure you'll invent whatever you want as an excuse for why I'm wrong and you are right. But I was there.
                    • I'm not sure why you think that problem is easy......you can't use the brute force solution, the running time will be too high.
                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      I never said it was easy. You need to read what you are responding to before you complain. But then again, I've been joking about you being the standard Slashdot whiner, so that would be right in line. Answer for what you think they meant, even if not supported by what they actually say.
                    • I seriously doubt you were doing dynamic programming in high school. If you were, props to you bro
                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      Go look up the #1 public high school in the USA. Depending on the year in the results you find, that's where I went. You assume dynamic programming is required for a solution. Though the CS teacher there was big on recursion, so I'm sure some recursive solution would have presented itself. Not sure if you'd consider that dynamic programming.
                    • You assume dynamic programming is required for a solution. Though the CS teacher there was big on recursion, so I'm sure some recursive solution would have presented itself.

                      The problem is not recursion, although that might make it easier to write; it's great you learned that in high school since most CS majors don't learn that until their second semester; the problem is that if any sort of straightforward approach is used (like the solutions shown on stackoverflow), the algorithm will end up solving the same subproblems repeatedly, and the number of subproblems will grow factorially as the input size increases. So you need some way to keep track of which sub-problems you've al

                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      I was studying object oriented programming in 1991 in BASIC. The funny thing about the sample given is that the result was determined by methods that are itteritive, simple, and stupid. Often in the programming competitions, the data sets would be similarly limited, so the solution would be unrelated to the problem being solved. The "answer" is [LARGEST(bi)-SMALLEST(ai)]/(n-1) for all sample data. Yes, the entire "complex" problem is solved for all test data in a single simple statement. There are just
                    • Your solution fails for the case of:

                      3
                      0 10
                      10 15
                      1000 1010

                      Yours will print out 505, but the answer is 15
                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      Correct, but that wasn't in the dataset. The "solution" given on that page had every comment giving another dataset that didn't work. Part of the contests is that you must get the correct answer for all the data, but the data is given, so accounting for edge cases not in the data will cause you to lose.

                      That and I was deliberately giving a "correct" answer that takes 10 seconds and obviously isn't exhaustive because I thought it funny. The "real" solution I would have come up with would likely have worke
                    • You don't understand the contest. The data given is the sample data. The true dataset is kept by the judges and is much, much larger
                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      How many programming contests have you been in? How many wins? You seem to keep lecturing me about contests you have no knowledge of. I bet you are the type to argue with doctors "But I read about something like this on the Internet."

                      Most of the contests I've been in, you had to data-enter your own data (type in the "official" data from the printed sheets) for testing, and a few would provide sample data in a file. I'm almost all cases, the sample data was the contest data. The actual run files woul
                    • This is the ACM programming contest, it's not like it's some secret, random contest. They have them every year, the rules aren't secret. I participated in 8 of them, if you must know.
    • In my experience most of the attention in public school goes to those that are ultimately ineducable.

      Define "ineducable".

      Gifted students are just expected to be fine without help.

      As they should be. If you're bright enough you should be able to learn it by yourself. If you can't, then you're not as clever as you think. Genuinely gifted students, or even just the "pretty bright" (top few percentile) should be cheap to educate. There's the library, it includes computers and Internet access if your family can't afford them, they'll be an exam on the following material next Thursday. Attend the lectures if you want.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      The 4 smartest programmers I ever worked with were all high school/college dropouts.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:07AM (#44247759)

    Or better, it _is_ already lazy. I have done some competitive programming while studying, but it was a small group of students in a special elective course and only 6-7students in it. I already was a PhD student at that time and not taking the course, but I knew the professor doing it and he had told me that he was setting this up and also participating himself. Ended up being 1st until the professor and another student started "cheating" by using inline-assembler ;-)

    Still, even in this specialized, elective course, only half of the student put any real effort into it. That is not good. Programming is something you need to be able to do reasonably well if you do anything advanced in IT, or you will never be any good at it. Historically, the west did protect its economic advantage by having better infrastructure, machinery and materials, but that is over. Any bright person with at least slow Internet access, reasonable English language skills and an older computer with Linux or one of the xBSDs on it can compete now on a world-class level, geography has become pretty meaningless. Or rather, being in the west is a disadvantage due to a pervasive sense of entitlement. Personally, I think this is a good thing. Competing on merit only is the only working way to identify talented people.

  • Sponsored by a local company (probably recruiting) and not officially ACM-sanctioned. These are the kinds of competitions where if you practice you'll do much better at them. Our college had just rebooted their ACM club and I got the distinct feeling that had we been dedicated for years a team could place very high. We were around the 80% percentile or so and still burned 1/2 our time figuring out the logistics (physical space and PC access was limited). On top of that, we had a couple questions worked

One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone.

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