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Programming IT Technology

Google Code Jam Winner Announced 325

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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  • Anyone know... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:08PM (#7482160) Homepage
    what the problems were?
  • by danielrm26 ( 567852 ) * on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:15PM (#7482208) Homepage
    ...all from outside the U.S.?

    Our education system is in serious trouble.
  • by sm.arson ( 559130 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:31PM (#7482288) Homepage
    The Google Code Jam winner was certainly famous for his skills a long time before this... even ordinary kids in my suburban high school new about Jimmy Mardell 8 years ago.

    Jimmy Mardell [] was one of the pioneers of assembly programming for the TI calculators way back when. Without his ZTetris program (with two player link capability, no less!), high school math class would have been really boring for me.

    I credit Jimmy Mardell's work for sparking my interest in game programming. It's good to see he's still on top of things.
  • Re:Anyone know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jareds ( 100340 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:46PM (#7482355)

    The easy problem was, given a topographic map (as an array of strings of the same length, with 'A' to 'Z' giving the heights), a point on the map, and a cardinal direction, return the farthest point visible in that direction from that point.

    The medium problem was, given an array of integers representing the coefficients of a polynomial, return the largest root. Note that this is harder than it sounds because it's difficult to solve correctly just using Newton's method.

    The hard problem was, given an integer n and a fixed, precisely defined set of keystrokes available in a hypothetical editor, return the minimum number of keystrokes required to produce exactly n copies of the same character. This required an efficient search and correct choice of state space.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:54PM (#7482390)
    Turns out the Europeans can beat the best of Silicon Valley.

    Well, first of all, I don't agree with that. It kind of assumes that the best of Silicon Valley were attending that contest instead of actually trying to make a go of their company!

    Secondly, however, I think it might point to a weakness in our current US culture. Nearly every young person that I talk to now (I am 50, by the way), when talking about majors in college, puts any kind of technical degree at the bottom of the list. In fact, of the few that did express an interest in a technical degree, it was always with the assumption that a business degree would soon follow (direct quote from one: "Electrical Engineering with a Master's in Business Administration").

    And why not? The big rewards now all go to CEO's, CFO's and a lot of other CxO's that don't really create anything, they just manage it. Aside from a few entrepreneurs who started their own technical businesses (and, no, Bill Gates does not count, I've seen the code that he "created" in the early days of his career; he's better off managing!), there are few high-profile creative technical people in the US right now. Rightly or wrongly, a helluva lot of the credit (and, lately, a lot of the blame) goes to the managers of companies, not the people who sweat blood creating products that make companies what they are today.

    Unless things change radically in the next few years, I would guess we'll see a lot more of this.
  • by yomegaman ( 516565 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @04:36PM (#7482619)
    When I was in grad school for physics it was sort of a running joke that the incoming Chinese students would always destroy the American ones on the qualifying exam. Finally I asked one of the Chinese guys about it and he told me that he had to beat out hundreds of people in China on a battery of tests just to even apply to an American grad school. We only get a chance to meet the best of the best, the rest of them are still in China.
  • by Flu ( 16236 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#7482936)
    I think there's a few things done in Sweden that can explain some (although not all) reasons for Sweden being a good source of IT personell, and in some cases I believe the similar is true for the other nordic countries.

    For Sweden, I think the reason is spelled Ericsson.


    Take a look at these reasons:

    • GSM basestations. Ericsson is one of the leading developers of the technologies behind the GSM network, and most development is done in Sweden. However, they needed to be able to sell handsets as well to get telecos to purchase basestations. Thus, they do both. For Finland, Nokia is in a similar situation.
    • ENEA. Ericsson uses OSE from Swedish company ENEA in its products, and ENEA was the first internet node in Sweden, back in the days when Sweden was connected to USA using a dialup modem.
    • SUNET. is not only a huge ftp server, it is also the name of the university backbone network which connects all major cities and a lot of minor cities, too.
    • Distances. Sweden is a looong country, approximately 3000 km's from top to bottom, with a fairly poor airline and train system. Videoconferences have always been seen as the solution to the long distances. Guess what the Uni's do research on, using which network and guess if the telecom business likes video?
    • Neutrality. Sweden has a policy of being a neutral nation. Because of this, Sweden manufactures and develops almost all of its militiary technologies like the SAAB (they don't manufacture cars, BTW) JAS 39 Gripen fighter plane, Kockums submarines etc, rather than purchasing US, UK, German, French or Russian-made military technologies, like most small countries do. And, yes, Ericsson does military equipment as well!
    • Growth. A couple of years ago, Ericsson was the #1 mobile phone manufacturer of the world, outselling Sony, Motorola, Siemens and Nokia, with a lot of resarch on 3G and UMTS being done. They had a need for every single Master and Bachelor of Computer and Electronic and Physics Engineering student being examinated every year alone. Guess if technology studies got popular?

    Oki, there are a few other things as well, that does help Ericsson quite a bit:

    • Free education. The government pays even the university studies. All you have to pay for is food & living.
    • Subsidized computers. In Sweden, the taxes are redicilously high. But, since 5 years back, it is possible for everyone to purchase a computer through your employer at an approximat 50% (!) discount solely because of tax reductions, and it is totally costless for the employer!
    • Computers in school. A couple of years ago, a reform was done to increase the number of computers in schools. Well, contrary to what one would believe, the kids weren't really those in the most need for more computers, but the teachers were!
    • Former prime-minister Carl Bildt. Extremely technology friendly, he was the first MP to bring a lap-top (well, at the time the lap-tops were heavy enough to crush your lap in case you tried to put it there) into the parliament chamber for actual use - and he was almost thrown out of the chamber the first time he did it. It is claimed that he was the first prime-minister of any country to use e-mail to communicate with another prime-minister (which, of course, was the US president at the time).
    • IT-boom. There were a couple visionary geeks that knew how to speak that managed to start a couple of high-tech companies that needed a lot of people. Framtidsfabriken, Hardvarubolaget & Bredbandsbolaget had a vision of video-on-demand in every household. All started by the same person, they really wanted to make money on high-tech internet services, but they had to build the infrastructure in order to create the marked.
    • Teleco monopoly. This may sound strange, but: Telia had a monopoly on telephony and networking. Any
  • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @08:18PM (#7483645) Journal
    As your other respondent sortof points out, the primary complaints on google watch relate to people in the "search optimization industry."

    These are people that want their websites to get higher rankings on Google searches. It actually has nothing whatsoever to do with poor behavior on Google's part.
  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @09:34PM (#7483933) Homepage
    How did you come to this conclusion?

    When I came across a question asking me to determine how a table of data with three columns was sorted.

    The way they wanted you to figure it out was to sort the data in every possible combination of ways, and then compare those combinations with the actual data.

    Some of the others were of a similar nature. At which point, after spending the time to come up with an elegant solution and being ranked badly on time, I realized that I could have done it the "easy but completely assininely stupid in a real world scenario" way, and gotten high marks.

    At which point, I decided that Top Coder wasn't worth playing with. Too frustrating when you make a living coming up with solid code.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault