July 10, 2008
Google Code Jam 2008
by Marco Vitanza
Google Code Jam is a coding competition in which professional and student programmers are asked to solve complex algorithmic challenges in a limited amount of time.

Registration ends on July 17. $80,000 in prize money will be distributed starting with $10,000 to the winner, all the way down to $250 for 100th place.

You can check out practice problems at the site. Each problem has a small and large input data set. Solutions can be implemented in any programming language. For each input data set, you must upload the resulting output data set for scoring. The problems seem to require all sorts of general algorithms; for example:

You have a list of items you need to buy today, and you know the locations (represented as points on a cartesian grid) of a few stores in the area. You also know which of these stores are selling each item on your list, and at what price each store sells it. Given the price of gas, what is the minimum amount you need to spend in order to buy all the items on your shopping list and then drive back home? You start and end the journey at your house, which is located at (0,0).

To make matters interesting, some of the items on your list may be perishable. Whenever you make a purchase that includes one or more perishable items, you cannot drive to another store without first stopping back at your house. Every item on your shopping list is guaranteed to be sold by at least one store, so the trip will always be possible.

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