18 January 2006

But What Is It Really Worth?

I am very much looking forward to Saturday, when me and my mates will be going to Genting for the day-long seminar and awards ceremony for last November's eGenting Programming Competition. It's gonna be so fun because everything is free - yes, FREE! "Free" looks more attractive when spelled in all capitals, doesn't it?

Basically, the Genting coach will pick us up from our college itself and drive all the way up the City of (Boring) Entertainment. Once there, all our meals are provided for, and their food is pretty good. So it's gonna be real fun, especially since I expect a little rivalry with the MMU students. MMU sent many participants too, so I believe I'll see a large group of them there.

Ever since I heard that Genting is going to pick us up from our college, I had an interesting thought. Edy mentioned the same thing as well, but the others do not agree. Edy and I think that perhaps one of us 5 participants actually won a prize. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, there is the real possibility. Consider the following points:
  1. On the day of the competition, we had to make our own way to their offices in KL. We weren't even given transport allowances.

  2. In the e-mail announcement, it is clearly stated that contestants should once again meet at their office in KL. Exceptions were only made for us and MMU.

  3. A lecturer followed us up during the competition. He managed to skim through several answer scripts and commented that many of them were plain rubbish. While I don't think my answer was particularly good, I didn't really copy'n'paste much code.

Those 3 points are giving me fervent hope that one of us, or even me, won one of the top 3 prizes. Or at the very least, be offered jobs at eGenting.

My theory makes sense for the MMU students as well. Since they sent so many participants, they have a higher chance of winning. But if this is the case, and one of us are winners, it begs the question, "What is it really worth?"

It may seem strange for me to have high expectations of winning, and yet treat the prize as worthless. Allow me to explain how the competition works. There are 4 questions of varying difficulty, and they are assigned different point-values. For this competition, the 4 questions had the maximum scores of 250, 350, 100, and 500 respectively. Within 8 hours, we were expected to answer as many questions as possible. But it is clearly stated that we do not need to answer each question. So the winner is obviously the one with the highest score.

I attempted the 250-point question and had initially planned to do the 100-point question as well. Alas, I could barely finish the first question! I checked with the others and they had all done only one question, either the 250 or the 100. So my concern is, if 250 points can make one of us a winner, what does that say about the quality of Malaysian student programmers?

Very little, I'm afraid. I would at least expect all winners to score around 400 to 500 points. I would frankly be a little ashamed if I won anything. Of course, it is very possible that Genting is being very generous and we didn't win anything, but I'm still hoping for some prizes. So when this Saturday comes around, I will see for myself how well our local students perform.

As an interesting note to support my theory that Malaysian student programmers suck (I know I do), consider this:

Just recently I've been joining TopCoder programming competitions, which pits contestants from around the world. I like it very much because it tests our ability to solve problems, not just output silly things like "Hello World". Once registered for a particular competition, I can view the details of other contestants. I've joined 3 times so far, and to my disappointment, I was the only Malaysian there. Sure, it could have something to do with the fact that it is sometimes held at 1am local time. But then again, I see quite a number of Singaporean contestants, so that is not a good explanation.

And the strongest proof that most student programmers suck? I, supposedly a top-scorer in my class, could only answer the easiest question everytime.


Jackson Lim said...

"And the strongest proof that most student programmers suck? I, supposedly a top-scorer in my class, could only answer the easiest question everytime."

A top student in class is not necessarily means a good programmer. I know a few people that are very good at programming currently studying overseas, and they are Malaysians too! Why would Microsoft sponsor their studies if they are not good? They already have a place in Microsoft after they graduate.

I’m not saying that I am the best programmers in College; I’m just saying that there are other people, who don’t really want to show their talents because of various reasons.

Anonymous said...

i not agree with what u say. unforturnately, i am the winner of this year competition. i manage to answer the 500 marks question and the 100 marks question. In APIIT, my friend is much more stronger than me in programming (2003 winner). I know many friends that programming is better than me also. Actually the questions in EGenting is quite easy, but problem is we need to write it in hand.

Anonymous said...

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

by John Calvin Coolidge

I like this statement. A genius who can do many things but her or his work cannot be recognized by someone. Then, what is the point for doing this. To waste time? Or you need to continute to work for it? To take part in any game, we need to have a good planning. Some planning may be wrong. For example, “My theory makes sense for the MMU students as well. Since they sent so many participants, they have a higher chance of winning….” I disagree on this plan. The reasons are:
a) More not means good
b) When you take part this game, you do it for yourself or others.