Competitive programming, also known as algorithmic problem solving, is a popular programming contest where an individual or teams compete against each other in order to solve problems. The competition takes place online, with the aim of finding out who can write the most efficient code for solving them.
While many people think that this kind of work requires only mathematical skills and knowledge, it is not true! While there are some math-based aspects involved in competitive coding contests (like knowing how to find Prime numbers), there are also many things which can be learned by reading through solutions provided by other people or by practicing yourself at home with simple problems first before attempting anything complex. Here are some tips to perform better on competitive programming.
Read the problem statement carefully and make sure you understand it fully 🖥️
The first step in solving a problem is understanding it. It’s important to check for any ambiguity in the problem statement. You should also make sure that you understand what information is being asked for and how it should be provided by using each line of code correctly. Carefully examine the given input samples and desired output samples.
Once you are clear about the problem, try to find an approach that will solve it. It can be helpful to think outside the box and come up with a different solution than what is being asked for. If there is more than one way of solving a problem, try each one out individually before choosing which approach is best suited for your needs.
Brush Up your basics, know the core concepts 🗒️
Having a keen knowledge of the programming language is one of the most important aspects. By knowing the core concepts of the programming language, you know what concepts will be helpful and how to use it to get the desired functionality.
Learn about DSA and know how to choose the best one 📊
An individual with strong DSA skills will have better and more effective approaches to resolving a problem than someone who is unfamiliar with DSA concepts.
Data structures and algorithms (DSA) review standard problem solutions in detail and give you an insight into the efficiency of using each. It also teaches you how to evaluate the effectiveness of an algorithm. This allows you to select the best from various choices.
Programming is all about how to store data and how to solve problems using that data. By learning DSA, you can choose the appropriate data structure to store the data efficiently according to the problem and get the desired solution by applying the proper algorithm.
For example, suppose you require a data set in which frequent insertion and deletion takes place, then LinkedList would be a better option as compared to the Array.
Choose your programming language wisely ✨
In almost all competitive contests, you have a choice to choose your favorite programming language to code with. If you know multiple programming languages, you may code your logic in any one of them, I’m sure about it but it is good to choose the programming language wisely, because there are some problems for which you may write efficient code rapidly as compared to other languages. For an instance, suppose you have to extract the last character of the given string, then you may use any language you want like Java, but if you know python as well then it will be a better choice.
Practice more and more solved/sample problems, think about why it works and why your solution might be wrong 🗊
Practice more and more problems so that you can learn different approaches to solving the problem. If you don’t get the desired result, go for the solutions. When looking at a solution, think about why it works and why your solution might be wrong. For example, if you are given a problem to solve and it takes ₹100 for you to solve the problem but only ₹30 for others, what does this mean? Is there something inherently wrong with your approach or is more time needed?
Try some of your own test cases and check them by hand before submitting a solution ⌨️
Test your code against your own test cases is an important part of competitive programming. The best way to write them is by hand, and you should check your solution by hand before submitting it.
The best way to do this is by writing out the algorithm and then checking it yourself.
While solving a problem, keep an eye on time required by each step of your solution ⏱️
Make sure you know how much time each step takes, and keep track of how long it takes you.
If you’re working on a team, make sure that everyone knows which steps have been completed so far and what other people’s progress is.
Take care of the execution time taken by your code and reduce the time complexity ⌛
One of the major issues competitive coders faces is execution timeouts. You may write the code correctly, but it will not generate the functionality in the desired timeframe. Almost all execution servers limit the code running time, and if your code does not get completed in this time, your code gets rejected as the time complexity of your code is too high. To avoid this problem, check your code, use efficient data structures, rewrite and try to code as short as possible.
As a programmer, you should always be thinking about how to improve your performance. The tips in this article can help you do that by reducing the time required for each step of your solution or improving the efficiency of data structures. These tips don’t just apply to competitive programming; they also apply if you are working on any problem where performance is important such as web applications or AI and data science projects!