Was reading Marks July 15 post, and remembered about my Programming Challenges time. Back in November 2004 I found the site, and start solving the problems. I shared the site with the people at ATR and some internal competition started. The site also had a phpBB attached, where people would ask questions and nobody would answer. So I decided to be the person that at lest acknowledge the persons question even if I did not know the answer. Most questions could be answered by repeating the answer given the day before. I am not sure if it was the new user base that just didn’t understand the concept of search before ask. The more annoying thing was there were problems with the problems, like solutions that worked on the bigger UVA site. The sites phpBB was pulled done earlier this year due to it been hacked, and has not been replaced. The site admins never answered any questions, so it would appear to just be a pretty version of the UVA site, to help sell their book. I’ll admit the site gave you the error output when you code fails to compile which UVA does not. The small problem set also makes the site less intimidating.
While the phpBB was still active I was discussing the above problems another coder, who suggested TopCoder, describing it as having good feedback, and the chance to win money. So I promptly signed up there and never did anything about it.
So last week I entered my first algorithm competition, man it was fun. It was a session sponsored by the NSA, so they had a few people in the chat room for an hour before the competition. The competition it’s self was fun. The third problem was simpler than I first thought so I wasted a lot of time thinking I couldn’t do it. Then added extra code that wasn’t needed. So now I’m in Division I, and the problems look a lot hard. You start in Division II when you are unranked. I’m keen to compete in the next competition that happens in my time zone on the 8th. This one has cash prizes, but I’m not expecting to get any. Here the my TopCoder profile in case you feeling competitive ATR people.