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What is Competitive Programming?

Competitive programming is solving coding problems using algorithm and data structure. The participants need to write code under various restrictions like memory limits, execution time, limit of coding, space, etc.

The winner is declared base on some problems solved and time spent on writing successful programming solutions. However, it also includes other factors like quality of output produced, execution time, program size, etc.

In this tutorial, you will learn

Benefits of Competitive programming

Here, are benefits of taking parts in competition:

  • Competitive programming helps you to improve your logical and analytical skills
  • It improves your algorithmic knowledge.
  • It is an excellent addition to your CV.
  • Improve your network of friends who are also passionate about programming
  • It is supported by world famous organizations like Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and others.

History of competitive programming

In the competitive programme world, the oldest contest is ACM-ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest ). It was originated in the 1970s and has grown to span across 88 countries.

Interest in programming challenges has grown extensively after 2000. It was possible due to the growth of the Internet. It allows coding contest sites to hold international contests online.

Skills Required in the Competitive Programming Exams

Skill Details
Important skills
  • Algorithm Skills
  • Basic Math Skills
  • Programming Skills
  • Typing Speed Skills
  • Debugging Skills
Complete search
  • Brute force searching using the entire search space
  • Beating the time limit
  • Optimizing the search
Divide and Conquer
  • Dividing the coding problem into smaller parts
  • Binary search
Dynamic programming
  • Determine problem state
  • Faster and more elaborate recursive backtracking

How to get started?

Here, are some useful tips that you should know before getting started with Competitive programming:

  • It's vital that you select a programming language which you are most comfortable with
  • Sign up on any online coding challenge website and start solving their practice problems
  • You need to learn about Data Structures which is vital to solving complex coding issues.
  • You need to understand the concept of complexity in programs.
  • Learn important programming patterns like recursion, Dynamic Programming, etc.

Top Competitive Programming Sites

The most important best coding challenge sites are:

  • TopCoder
  • Coderbyte
  • Codewars
  • CodeChef
  • Codeforce
  • Hackerearth


Topcoder is a widely popular platform for competitive programming. It offers a lot of algorithmic challenges that you can complete on your own using their code editor tool. The website is better suited for an advanced audience.

Visit Here: https://www.topcoder.com/


Coderbyte offers more than 200 various types of coding challenges which you can solve in an online editor using 10 different programming languages. It provides official solutions and more than 800,000 user created solutions.

Visit Here: https://coderbyte.com/


Codewars offer an extensive collection of coding challenges. You can submit your challenges which will be edited by the community. It allows you to solve these challenges online using their editor of 20+ programming languages.

Visit Here: https://www.codewars.com/


CodeChef offers hundreds of competitive programming challenges. It allows you to write code in their online editor and view a collection of challenges. The coding problems are separated into different categories based on your skill level.

Visit Here: https://www.codechef.com/


Codeforces is a Russian base competitive programming website. It regularly hosts coding contest where competitive programmers from all over the world.

Visit Here: https://codeforces.com/


HackerEarth offers enterprise software solutions. It helps companies or individual with their innovation management and technical recruitment needs. HackerEarth has conducted 10,000+ programming challenges to date.

Visit Here: https://www.hackerearth.com/

Myths and reality of competitive programming

Myths Reality
It's too late to start competitive programming There is no fixed age for this best to start earlier in your programming career.
It is an excellent way to get a software programming job No, it is not true as it is a sport which may benefits. However, it doesn't offer a job guarantee.
You need to solve lots of computing programs before starting competitive programming. You can learn theory, but you solving computing challenges will not help as every competition is unique with its unique challenges.
You need to an expert in algorithm You need to be able to solve the problems
Competitive programmers are all experienced programmers. No, it is for everyone even beginner code can participate
It is just a hobby or a game Competitive programming, in contrast, covers some of the same skills taught in the computer science curriculum, but at a much deeper level. So, you can't call it a game.

Best practices for competitive coding exams

Although there is no fixed rule, still some best practice that you should follow are:

  • Try to learn new and efficient algorithms and implement them when needed.
  • Develop a good knowledge of data structures like lists, trees, and graphs
  • Read the privacy information from the competitive programming website and contact them before signup.
  • You should select a problem for which you can find a solution and possibly an explanation of those solutions.
  • Write test cases for the problem and test your logic using those test cases before submitting.
  • You need to maintain pre-written templates for Standard algorithms, necessary headers, functions, etc.
  • Use functions/methods and minimize repetition of code.
  • Test your code for worst case and try to figure out the best solution for this situation

Drawbacks of competitive programming

  • Runtime Errors on problems with bad inputs are difficult to debug.
  • You are so used to small rewards and short-term goals. In real life when you work on any project, it mostly takes two-three months before you get the reward for the project you're working on
  • You will likely become master of coding, but you won't know any frameworks (important for real projects)
  • It is time-consuming and more tedious to participate, and you need to do it repeatedly.


  • Competitive programming is solving coding problems using algorithm and data structure.
  • Coding contests help you to improve your logical and analytical skills.
  • ICPC was originated in the 1970s and has grown to span across 88 countries.
  • Algorithm Skills, Basic Math Skills, Programming Skills, Typing Speed Skills are required in the competitive Programming Exams.
  • It's crucial that you select a programming language which you are most comfortable with
  • The most important best coding challenge sites are: 1)TopCoder 2) Coderbyte 3) Codewars 4) CodeChef 5) Codeforce 6) Hackerearth.
  • It is a common myth that it's too late to start competitive programming. However, the reality is that there is no fixed age for it.
  • Develop a good knowledge of data structures like lists, trees, and graphs is a good best practice for competitive coding exams.