"Programming isn't about what you know; it's about what you can figure out." -Unknown 

Since the rise of computer systems in the last few decades of the 20th century, there has been a steady growth in the need for programmers, systems engineers, and experienced coders. Computer programmers need to tell the computers what they need to do and when they need to complete their assigned tasks to keep users content.

With so much demand and technological devices only becoming more and more popular, a future without computer programmers does not exist. 

Therefore, many recently graduated secondary school students are wise to consider a career in computer programming since it promises prosperity and a guaranteed job position. Moreover, any job in computer development and technology is a safe bet in today's digital age.

However, did you know that something is going on now that is known as competitive programming? If not, you're not the only one! So, without further ado, in today's article, we're going to take a look at competitive programming and everything that it entails. Let's get coding!

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Let's go

What is Programming?

Many of the apps we use regularly would be impossible to access if it weren't for the diligent work of computer programmers behind the scenes. (Source: Unsplash)

Before mentioning the principles behind competitive programming, it's essential to define the basics of general programming and what it involves. First and foremost, in the most basic terms, computer programming can be defined as designing and building a computer program to accomplish a specific task or to engage in a particular computing result.

Computer programming encompasses the ability to know how to code a specific coding language and is part of a much bigger topic known as computer science. To better understand computer programming, the following are a few tasks that computer programmers/coders must complete regularly:

  • Coding and debugging computer programmes,
  • Designing and analysing computer structures from different sources,
  • Finding the errors to system problems,
  • Writing clear instructions in code for the computer to understand,
  • Managing the different database systems of the computer,
  • Analysing algorithms,
  • Discussing computer programming projects with team members and clients.

All of the previously mentioned duties are completed daily by computer programmers no matter where they are from and whom they have as their employer(s).

It's important to state that without the hard work accomplished daily by computer programming experts, it would be impossible to scroll through Instagram, check your email, or do your online banking. So there is a lot of work that gets done behind the scene, and you could call computer programmers the unsung heroes of the modern world!

But how is competitive programming accomplished? Keep on reading to find out more!

What Does Competitive Programming Entail?

competitive programmers
Competitive programming events are an excellent chance for experienced programmers to show off their skills and the best other professional coders. (Source: Unsplash)

Know that we've established the guidelines of what computer programming is, it is now possible to understand a little bit better what the details behind competitive programming are. Competitive programming is competition between programmers and coders held over the internet in a nearby or the same network that involves programmers trying to code according to unique specifications.

Contestants of competitive programming are referred to by experts in the computer science world as sport programmers.  

Competitive programming contests may involve one or various coding languages and are a perfect chance for programmers to establish whether they are superior to others in terms of speed, solving complex computer bugs, and overall skills.

To visualise competitve programming, think of the scene in The Social Network when Zuckerberg tries to find new programmers by having them engage in a competitive programming event. 

Competitive programming aims to have computer programmers brush up on their skills and see how good they are compared to others. The fastest one to write source code created to solve any given programming issue wins the competition and the respect of fellow competitors and potential employers watching the contests.

It's worth stating that many computer coding problems presented in competitive programming require coders to think deeply since they involve mathematical skills and logical thinking abilities. 

Suppose you're a computer programmer with continued interest in the field of computer science. In that case, we remarkably suggest attending to view or participating in competitive programming since you will feel more involved in your line of work and try your best to better yourself.

The Most Significant Worldwide Competitive Programming Events

While there are plenty of competitive programming events and contests that occur daily worldwide, there are some that are much more significant than others. For instance, the most prominent programming events welcome the best coders from all parts of the world to compete against one another to determine once and for all who is the finest programmer of them all!

Now, you might ask yourself, what are the most significant computer programming events, where are they located, and why are they relevant?

First of all, competitive programming events are a fantastic way for coders to challenge their abilities and grow. Also, depending on the type of programming competition, it can be held either in-person or online. But, what are some actual competitive programming events? The following list highlights a few of them:

  • The ACM-ICPC International Collegiate Programming Contest, 
  • TopCoder Programming Events, 
  • Google Code Jam, 
  • Google Hash Code, 
  • The ICFP Programming Contest, 
  • BME International 24-hours Programming Contest, 
  • Internet Problem Solving Contest, 
  • Microsoft Imagine Cup. 

The previously mentioned competitive programming events are established by reputable companies for persons of all ages and backgrounds. Also, depending on the type of contest, the event may be held in-person or online, and there may even be prizes to be won!

On the other hand, since the internet is a goldmine of information, some websites test computer programmers skills and offer them challenges to prepare for the competitive events that lay ahead. Such as? The following are a few websites worth taking a glance at:

  • HackerRank,
  • CodeChef,
  • Geeks Coding Challenge,
  • LeetCode,
  • Codeforces.

While there may be many more options, the previously mentioned sites are enough to keep programmers entertained and trained!

Also, it's worth stating that before participating in competitive programming events at a national or international level, there are some tips and tricks to consider that will make a person's skills go from zero to hero in no time. Such as? Keep on reading to find out more!

Tips on How to Prepare for Competitive Programming Events

practising to win coding competitions
There are some tips and tricks to consider that can make your performance better during competitive programming events. (Source: Unsplash)

As is the case with all academic disciplines and topics of interest, to become better and quickly see results, it is essential to seek the help and advice of experienced ones who have been through the learning journey that we are currently embarked on. This is especially true when an individual is involved in learning a complex subject such as computer programming.

Although the fundamental concepts of computer programming and competitive coding are practically the same, there are some tricks from past competitive programming experts about how to prepare and succeed during coding and software engineering competitions. Such as?

The following are the top three ways to put together your thoughts to win competitive coding courses:

  • Know the Basics: without a strong foundation of the fundamentals of one or many programming languages, it is impossible to move onto the more complex aspects of code that will inevitably be featured in competitions against others. Therefore, know the basics of programming by heart and memory and then move onto the next steps.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: before embarking on a coding competition, it's worth highlighting that you should practice writing down code every day. Albeit this won't be difficult for working computer programmers, preparing yourself for the competition is something that everyone should strive to do despite their expertise.
  • Seek the Help of a Private Tutor: it doesn't matter if you're a beginner or advanced computer programmer; if a coding competition is something you've never embarked on, you should seek the help of a personal programming instructor. Why? The guidance, tips, and tricks that a private instructor provides is indispensable and will most definitely set you apart from the competition.

So, no matter which coding competition you decide to participate in, we are confident that you are bound to succeed by following the previously mentioned tips.

In conclusion, competitive programming is a brilliant idea and a great step forward for programmers and computer science workers who want to continuously hone their abilities and see what else their sector has to offer.

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.