It doesn’t matter if you’re a new programmer, still in high school, or well into your development career. It is an excellent idea to begin competitive programming. Many people believe that competitive programming is more than just typing code, but it takes years to master this sport.

In fact, competitive programming is more than just a pastime. Participating in competitions can help you get a job, improve your logical analysis skills, and expand your creativity.1

So, what exactly is competitive programming?

Competitive programming is a sport, and perhaps even an art form. Solving difficult coding problems is an activity that requires creativity and analytical thinking. Competitive programming consists of online events in which participants, known as sport programmers, solve specific problems or puzzles. It is a mental sport in which participants solve coding problems using algorithms and data structures.1 

The participants are supposed to write a source code that solves a logical or mathematical problem while adhering to various constraints such as memory limits, execution time, coding limits, space, and so on. The winner of competitive programming is determined primarily by the number of problems they solve and the time taken to write successful programming solutions to these problems; however, other factors such as output quality, execution time, program size, and so on are also considered in this process. This evaluation process is usually carried out by host machines.2 

These competitions have existed since the 1970s, and interest in the events has grown significantly over time, with international contests and a global community. Several large corporations, including Facebook and Google, have acknowledged these events.1 

 Competitive Programming

Key Features of Competitive Programming

  • Problems That are Clearly Defined: There will be a few problems given to you in any competition, and each problem will be well-defined, that is, you will have constraints on variables, assumptions, and any other limitations.
  • Computer Programs: You will create computer programs and source code to solve the problem. It is important to note that these computer programs are simple command-line programs rather than fancy graphical user interfaces or web applications.
  • Specified Limitations: You will be asked to create a program with a time and memory limit. This constraint will force you to think creatively and problem-solve. You will also be limited to a set of programming languages.

Once you learn competitive programming, you can take part in competitions like the ACM ICPC, Google CodeJam, Facebook HackerCup, and many others. You would need to  use your expertise in algorithms, data structures, logical arguments, and other techniques to solve challenging algorithmic problems in these competitions. This is particularly challenging because competitors must develop programs in a short amount of time. Java and C++ are the most popular languages for competitive programming due to their relative run-time efficiency when compared to other programming languages such as Python or JavaScript.1 

Benefits of Competitive Programming

The abilities required for competitive programming have enduring advantages. Taking part in competitive programming has a variety of benefits, such as: 

  • It aids in the development of your reasoning and analytical abilities.2 
  • Your understanding of algorithms is enhanced.2 
  • It is a great addition to your resume.2 
  • World-famous companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and others support it.2 
  • It improves teamwork skills.1 
  • This opens up a great opportunity for interview prep.1 

Competitive programming can be fun and rewarding. You’ll not only have the opportunity to distinguish yourself from your peers and win prizes, but you’ll also sharpen your problem-solving and programming abilities by putting them to the test. Furthermore, the skills you gain from participating in these competitions may make it easier for you to get started and find a job that requires coding.

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  1. What is competitive programming? Competitive programming with C++. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from 
  2. Competitive Programming (Coding) for Beginners: What is, Top Website. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from