By Evan Wen (IV)

This year, the Competitive Programming Club was formed to introduce Pingry computer science students to competitive programming. In competitive programming, participants are given problems that they must solve by writing programs.

The club primarily focuses on preparing students for the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) and contests on Codeforces, a website that hosts online programming competitions. Both of these competitions are online, which means they’re guaranteed to run, regardless of closures to due coronavirus, and are a great way to pass time while at home.

Several students are preparing for the USACO, which has four divisions: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. An upcoming contest on the weekend of December 18-21 is an opportunity for competitors to get promoted to higher divisions. In November, Alan Zhong (III), Nick Meng (III), and Hansen Zhang (III) competed in the online Montgomery Blair Informatics Tournament. In the future, there will be more team competitions as well as in-person competitions, once it is safe to gather in large groups.

Participating in competitive programming has many benefits, including preparing for interviews for programming jobs. Companies such as Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google all interview candidates by giving them tasks similar to those featured in programming contests. By learning from these programming competitions, participants are essentially also getting ready for job interviews at top tech companies.

If you are interested in programming or solving puzzles, let club leaders Chris Gu (V) and myself (Evan Wen) know via email. Currently, we are in the process of organizing a mock programming contest that will take place after winter break. If you aren’t sure whether competitive programming is for you, I suggest giving this mock competition a try. In addition, the Competitive Programming Club currently meets once a week to go work through problems that are selected from past USACO contests. Members may also choose to practice on their own by doing contests on Codeforces, solving past problems online, and reading online resources to learn more about certain techniques. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Competitive Programming Club looks forward to a year filled with strong results!