Julie JCH Ryan, D.Sc. wrote:
This is a little off topic, but I'm wondering if anyone would like to

I'll bite, but as I'm not American, you'll have to take my comments with a grain of salt. Firstly, chastise your student for using the word factoid, it's a fact, a factoid is untrue. I know this is pedantic, but the harassment I got from my compiler lecturer about the differences between brackets, braces and parentheses kind of stuck to me. [ eats, shoots, and leaves ]

The supposition that students have lost their edge is because they do not enter
programming competitions is a poor argument - probably over 20 of the
universities listed in the 76 entries on this year's competition were American,
which seems to be a reasonable percentage, considering that significantly less
than that are of western European origin, I'd say that you've got good odds. I
am aware that this is just throwing some arbitrary statistics at the posting for
this year's results. [ lies, damned lies and statistics ]

The challenge is not in the programming, it's in the problem solving, and the
fact that less American students are winning it should be addressed by
questioning the motivations of those attending, I know for a fact that if I was
offered the opportunity to go to China to attend a programming competition I
would leap at the chance, knowing full well that I would probably not place very
well, but I'd have a damned fun time there. [ the junket argument ]

I think that the duration of the challenge is fair, and as this is a pseudo
exam-like system, the unavailability of the internet is only fair. Being made to
'memorize' things is not the issue, the students are expected to have a good
grounding in all the topics that are likely to turn up in the competition, and
that by having a team you are expecting that they should be capable of at least
doing some forward research into the likely topics so that they don't get caught
Real world programming is for the most part boring - I can count on one hand the
times I've used really interesting algorithms in my work; and I've been working
in what would be for a software engineer a really interesting field. Having a
programming competition that emphasizes mathematical style problems makes it a
fun challenge, without the 'math type' problems, then what would we expect to
see? I for one would lament the loss of a true challenge.

As for the 'have the US programmers lost their lead?' I'd have to say yes, they
have, but that's only because they're now a smaller piece of a much larger pie.

-- Pete +353 (87) 412 9576 [M] | +353 (1) 235 4027 [H] Boston, n.: Ludwig van Beethoven being jeered by 50,000 sports fans for finishing second in the Irish jig competition.

Reply via email to