Winning at programming competitions is a negative factor for being good on the job

Peter Norvig says that being good at programming competitions correlates negatively with being good on the job at Google.


8 thoughts on “Winning at programming competitions is a negative factor for being good on the job”

  1. hmm, so google hires the best people out there who in practice don't perform well on day to day tasks? so what exactly makes them the best?

  2. Personally, I find this view simplistic of how competitive programmers are within the realm of software engineering or some similar field. His statement neglects certain aspects of the sport, such as the gruelling hours one has to put in to truly understand a problem, one has never encountered before, and how this process is relevant in becoming better. Also, I'd like to make mention of the so-called marathon matches, as seen on topcoder, codechef etc that span over the course of days which involve careful implementation, a fairly complex analysis, and use of things other than algorithmic knowledge such as machine learning, AI and so forth. Though I acknowledge that churning out code is a very useful skill for this sport, I'm very skeptical that a good/excellent competitive programmer wouldn't be able to adjust to some other field such as, software engineering, and realise that rushing to a solution isn't adequate for this type of work (they are pretty bright people after all).

  3. Doing programming in college or contests is completely different than doing it professionally for a corporation. Since your code will be used for by millions of people, you can't hack and slash a solution as quickly as possible, you have to consider all things when writing your code.

  4. Maybe the winners and top performers in competitions are too arrogant to work in a collaborative environment or take feedback without taking it personally?

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