The blog of Maxime Kjaer

IEEEXtreme 24-hour programming challenge

A friend and I decided to take part in the IEEEXtreme 8.0 24-hour programming challenge a few weeks ago. Optimistic as it may have been for two freshmen undergrads, I think that we did alright!

The hard part wasn’t even the lack of sleep. I still felt good Saturday evening, after almost 50 hours without sleep. It was a learning experience, for sure. I wanted to write down what I had drawn from it.

You may code up the craziest hacks, but in the end, having specific knowledge of different algorithms is what will make you win sweet points. I’ve been meaning to read a book called Algorithms in Python, but haven’t had the time to do so until now.

At some point, I got stuck for good. But just explaining the problem to my teammate made it clear to me, and I figured it out on my own (that’s also why I’m writing this post - what I’ve learned from the competition suddenly becomes more concrete).

A lot of our problems were caused by the input. Though it was specified that all input exactly would match the description, we found out that that should be taken with a grain of salt. I wasn’t checking the input at all (that’s a no-no!) because I had been told that it wold be perfect, but they were actually adding a newline and a space at the end of their input, which messed with my script. I didn’t have access to the error codes, so I really had to solve that blindly.

But all in all, it was a lot of fun, and I think that it will get even better as I gain more knowledge about the algorithms that I need to implement versions of. I’ll be there next year!

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