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How about a Java coding competition in Java Ranch?

Hari Srinivas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 26, 2008
Posts: 46
Dear Bartenders,Sheriffs and all ranchers
(sounds like Friends...Romans...Countrymen...Doesn't it?)

I was a Java greenhorn until sometime back, but I have made considerable progress because of Coding a lot in Java. How about having regular programming competitions among ranchers? This will help newbies to integrate coding and problem solving techniques and hence learn better and faster. I have been a member of a well known Programming competition site for some time now and I was wondering if we could have an engine similar to(NOT THE SAME) the one those people use. I would like to know what you guys feel about it(Do you already have such a thing going around???). Competition is not always bad.

Thanks a lot for all the replies in advance
[ April 24, 2008: Message edited by: Govind SrinivasaRaghavan ]
Manuel Leiria
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 13, 2007
Posts: 171
You mean something similar to TopCoder site?

I Think it's a good idea and I'm ready to contribute!


Manuel Leiria<br /> <br />--------------<br />Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. <br /> Albert Einstein
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41820
    
  62
What would holding such a competition on JavaRanch add that TopCoder (or other sites) doesn't offer?

We do have the Programming Diversions forum where people talk about such matters and collaborate in solving them.


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Manuel Leiria
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 13, 2007
Posts: 171
Originally posted by Ulf Dittmer:
What would holding such a competition on JavaRanch add that TopCoder (or other sites) doesn't offer?


Why do I go to java sun's forum and come here?
Why do I read two daily journals instead of one?

Diversity is the answer!
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8903
    
    8

This idea gets suggested from time to time. There just doesn't seem to be enough interest to get such a contest off the ground.


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Hari Srinivas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 26, 2008
Posts: 46
Well I m really interested in getting things started....I need all you ranchers to support and/or contribute....
To Ulf:Sir I 'm not trying to say that we can try and compete with TopCoder, may be we can have a favorable environment in our own JavaRanch...can't we?
paul wheaton
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Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20574
    ∞

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Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

What if it were more along the lines of something off site but sponsored by JavaRanch? I'd be willing to head something up if that were the case.


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Michael Dunn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 09, 2003
Posts: 4632
back in about '03, the monthly(?) newsletter had a bit of a coding challenge,
which was run via the Programming Diversions forum (Jason Menard).

WordFinder and MazeSolver are a couple I recall, and was extremely interesting
perusing the different solutions (some almost 'a work of art').

The newsletter/PD forum sounds like it would still be an ideal place for it.
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41820
    
  62
Interesting. I hadn't known about the PD/newsletter stuff; I found three: WordSearch, Maze Solver and Binary Reflected Gray Code.

It might be fun to build a server component where people can submit solutions to such puzzles, which are then run in a properly secured environment, and compared to a predetermined solution.
Hari Srinivas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 26, 2008
Posts: 46
Well i have already had the experience of building n engine very similar to that of TopCoder for my university's inter college online coding challenge and there were other participations from topCoder members also,. Even though it actually wasn't successful(we had a really useless server and it crashed), I expect this one with JavaRanch to do well.
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41820
    
  62
Having the software is only part of it, although the likelihood of something like that happening here at JavaRanch would certainly be increased if someone were to contribute it. (Hint, hint - how's that for a programming problem to solve :-)

Regularly coming up with challenging and/or interesting problems is another, and that's where I see the bigger issue.
Hari Srinivas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 26, 2008
Posts: 46
Ok Ulf...I would like to let you know that I have already started working on the software part of it... . I understand your apprehensions regarding the contribution of questions by ranchers on a regular basis, but why don't we try giving it a shot once? After all that if people still think this wouldn't quite work out, we can scrap it...What say?
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41820
    
  62
If it looks manageable in terms of workload, and there are some moderators and/or other ranchers who are willing to shoulder that load we might well do it. The only way I could see it happen, though, is if it's highly automated. Here's what I could envision:
  • At a particular pre-announced point in time a puzzle/programming problem is revealed publicly.
  • A discussion thread in the Programming Diversions forum could be used to talk about the problem, although there's something to be said for talking about it only after the competition has ended. Maybe it would strictly be for clarifications of the problem during the competition.
  • Solutions can be submitted online in the form of a Java source file. This would need to implement a particular predefined interface that can be used for starting the algorithm and obtaining the results. (Needless to say, a security manager would prevent the code from doing anything untoward.)
  • A web page would show who submitted solutions so far, along with a few simple metrics (runtime of the algorithm, Non Commenting Source Statements (NCSS) and Cyclomatic Complexity Number (CCN) are a few that come to mind). (There's a Java library called JavaNCSS available that calculates these.) Or maybe it would show only who has submitted, and not the metrics until after the end - that's something to think about.
  • After the cutoff time (maybe after one week or so), no further solutions are accepted, and the source code to all solutions is made public.
  • While some pride could be gotten from submitting the fastest or shortest entry, the focus wouldn't be so much on winning, but on solving the problem. I suppose prizes could be awarded if someone were to come up with them (JavaRanch doesn't have a budget for something like that).

  • Baseet Ahmed
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 18, 2006
    Posts: 224
    Salaam/Hi,

    It would be interesting and challengeable.

    One question:
    Who will decide the result of competition ?
    Team of Some people OR Some Automated System(using some logic)

    Let us know about the kickoff...

    Regards
    Baseet Ahmed

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    Ulf Dittmer
    Marshal

    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 41820
        
      62
    Baseet,

    see the last item in my previous post. That's just suggestion, though - other approaches are possible.

    But, there will be no competitions until we see much more interest, including from folks who come up with the software needed and a steady supply of problems to work on. So far, there has been none of either, so it doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon.

    In other words: This is a chance for the JavaRanch community to get involved.
    [ May 26, 2008: Message edited by: Ulf Dittmer ]
    Hari Srinivas
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 26, 2008
    Posts: 46
    Like I have already mentioned ULf, I have started working on a competition arena(call it whatever you want). It will be great if everybody can actually get together and formulate the rules and a tentative starting date first( a realistic one), and that will speed things up for sure...And thanks for some insightful suggestions, glad to know people still think it can be done.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30512
        
    150

    Hari,
    It often takes more than a few people to make something happen as Ulf alluded to. I actually recommend getting everything in place before trying to think of a starting date. When you are working with a bunch of volunteers, it's hard to predict when anything will be done. Plus volunteers don't usually like having deadlines - there's enough of that at work!


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    Ulf Dittmer
    Marshal

    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 41820
        
      62
    Hari, please check your private messages.
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: How about a Java coding competition in Java Ranch?