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Code Jam History

Code Jam Facts

  • There have been seven problems in global Code Jam rounds that were not solved by anyone during the round in which they were posed. They may be our hardest problems of all time:
    1. 2008's chessboard puzzler King.
    2. From the 2010 World Finals, Ninjutsu, a geometry problem about grappling-hook-wielding assassins.
    3. The Paths of Yin Yang, a grid-based combinatorial problem with shades of Taoist philosophy.
    4. From the 2011 World Finals, the non-traditional Program within a Program, which asked contestants to program a Turing Machine.
    5. The difficult-to-wrap-your-head-around Ace in the Hole.
    6. From Round 2 in 2012, a problem that garnered 79 attempts but no solutions: Descending in the Dark.
    7. From the 2012 World Finals, the lost-in-the-woods simulator Shifting Paths.
  • No contestant has ever achieved a perfect score in an onsite final.
  • The fastest correct submission came from Russia's SergeiFedorov on 2010's Rope Intranet. The submission, solving the problem's Small input, came in just 2 minutes 41 seconds after he saw the problem for the first time at the start of the contest. For the fastest Large, Australia's xiaowuc1 was either quicker or more confident, submitting his final solution to the same problem just 3 minutes 14 seconds into the contest (22 seconds after his own Small), beating SergeiFedorov's Large by a healthy 9 seconds. These numbers ignore qualification rounds, where contestants start at different times.

2012's Champion: Poland's Jakub Pachocki (meret)

1st Place $10,000 meret
2nd Place $2,000 neal.wu
3rd Place $1,000 misof
4th - 25th Place $100
Detailed results T-Shirt: What Language do you Speak?      Creative Commons License  

2012 saw a big jump in the number of competitors who tried to solve at least one problem in the Qualification Round; perhaps because they were amused by the very silly Speaking in Tongues. In any case, we had 20,613 contestants give the contest a whirl, from 149 countries and regions, using 73 programming languages.

This year's Online Round winners were a mix of the familiar and the up-and-coming. Canada's SnapDragon took Round 1A, a strong showing in his first time competing in, rather than preparing, a Code Jam since 2006; he would finish the contest in 8th. Belarussian phenomenon Gennady.Korotkevich took his first round win in 1B. He was high-enough ranked, but ineligible, for the Finals this year (at 17 years of age) and in 2010 (at 15); but he turns 18 in September, which should be making his opponents very nervous.

Belarus's mystic, who spent 2011 putting in an incredible three 2nd-place finishes–including one in the Finals–won Round 1C. Japan's hos.lyric won Round 2, showcasing his skills in the language D; he would eventually finish 5th in this year's finals. Russia's EgorKulikov, 2010's champion, took Round 3 and would finish the competition in 15th.

The finals were held in New York City this year, and provided sweet recompense for Poland's Jakub Pachocki (meret). In 2011, a single-character bug knocked him from first place into third. This year, knowing that one of his submissions was wrong, he saw himself in fourth place at the end of the contest. Jakub, however, wasn't the only contestant with a wrong answer. misof's D-large was wrong; as was eatmore's. Burunduk1, who appeared to be safely in the lead, had three incorrect submissions.

With those three competitors out of the way, Jakub rose into first place, and earned the title of Code Jam Champion—as well as a hefty $10,000. Rising up with him into second place was the United States's Neal Wu (neal.wu), and hanging on for third place was Slovakia's Michal Forišek (misof).

Makoto Soejima (rng..58) Wins Google Code Jam 2011

1st Place $10,000 rng..58
2nd Place $2,000 mystic
3rd Place $1,000 meret
4th - 25th Place $100
Detailed results T-Shirt: What Language do you Speak?      Creative Commons License  

Perhaps it was the prospect of a trip to Tokyo that drove record numbers of contestants to compete in Google Code Jam 2011. We saw a record high of 14,397 competitors from 130 countries and regions, using 62 programming languages.

Our Online Round winners this year were all old favourites: krijgertje, rng..58 and Burunduk1 were among their number. linguo, who this year used 12 different languages to compete, won Round 3, after 2008-09 champion acrush took Round 2.

Our finals this year were held in Tokyo, Japan, in the Google office there. If you haven't been to Tokyo, we wholeheartedly recommend it; and if you can, bring 25 intense, brilliant friends. The problem set for the finals was one of our favourites. It featured two non-traditional problems, Program within a Program and Ace in the Hole, both of which stumped our contestants. Russia's eatmore was quick to realize we'd overvalued E-small, and solved it only 36 minutes in; unfortunately for him, the other contestants saw his submission and caught on, and it ended up being solved by more people than any other dataset.

At the end of the round, but before we'd revealed the results of judging, Poland's Jakub Pachocki (meret) stood alone at the top of the scoreboard. Judgement after judgement flicked by, with not a single wrong answer, until we finally got to Jakub's B-large... and it was the only submission to fail, due to a single-character error that dropped him to third place.

Japan's Makoto Soejima (rng..58) stood supreme at the top of the scoreboard, having spent more than half of the contest becoming the only person to correctly solve problem E. He added A to his tally with half an hour left in the contest to put him over the top. He takes home $10,000 and the title of Code Jam Champion!

Belarus's Ivan Miatselski (mystic) rounded out the top three, with all of problem A and a strategically-chosen set of Small solutions.

2010 Gold Goes to Russia's Egor Kulikov (Egor)

1st Place $5,000 Egor
2nd Place $2,000 krijgertje
3rd Place $1,000 Burunduk1
4th - 25th Place $100
Detailed results T-Shirt: What Language do you Speak?      Creative Commons License  

2010 saw a few new Code Jam records. More people competed (12092); more passed the Qualification Round (8308); more countries and regions were represented (125); and more programming languages were used (53) than ever before. One of our favourite Code Jam traditions, started in 2008 by polyglot contestant Linguo, kept going strong this year: a number of contestants used several different, often unsuitable, programming languages to solve the problems in the qualification round.

We saw a lot of new faces at the top of rounds this year: rng..58, Gluk, ZhukovDmitry and Burunduk1 all won rounds for the first time; but no Code Jam would be complete without a round win from South Africa's Bruce Merry (bmerry), who took Round 2.

The finals, held in Dublin, Ireland, were intense. First place changed hands several times, with defending champion ACRush grabbing the lead and holding onto it for several minutes; meanwhile the Netherlands' Erik-Jan Krijgsman (krijgertje) hid near the bottom of the scoreboard, with solutions to A, B and D ready to submit. When he submitted those solutions, Erik-Jan vaulted into a high score that would ultimately net him second place. Russian contestant Burunduk1 took a risk and went after The Paths of Yin Yang; he was ultimately the only contestant to solve the Small, a tough problem in its own right, which moved him up from fourth to his final third-place finish.

In the end, the day belonged to new Code Jam Champion Egor Kulikov (Egor), one of two contestants to fully solve four problems and one of the brave few to make progress on Ninjutsu.

Code Jam Africa 2010

1st Place RalfKistner
2nd Place mohamedafattah
3rd Place Ahmed.Kamel
Detailed results

Code Jam Africa 2010 was an online-only tournament designed to engage the community of software developers in Africa. Some of Africa's best coders signed up to participate in two rounds of brain-teasing algorithmic challenges. When the dust settled, the winner was South African student Ralf Kistner (RalfKistner). Congratulations to Ralf and the rest of our Code Jam Africa competitors!

China's Tiancheng Lou (ACRush) Takes No. 1 at Google Code Jam 2009

In the qualification round we spoke to our contestants in an Alien Language, and we bade them Welcome to Code Jam. Over ten thousand contestants participated, representing 111 countries and regions, and "speaking" 40 programming languages. From there they launched into the online rounds, where old favourites Tiancheng Lou (ACRush) and Bruce Merry (bmerry) took Rounds 2 and 3.

The finals this year were no less dramatic than 2008's, though for a different reason. The contestants disagreed about which problem was the easiest, and the first four submissions were for four entirely different problems. Nobody could disagree, though, about who deserved to win the round: 2008's champion, ACRush, grabbed the lead 27 minutes in and never let go, finishing the competition with double the points of everyone but his countryman, second-place Zichao Qi (qizichao).

1st Place $5,000 ACRush
2nd Place $2,000 qizichao
3rd Place $1,000 wata
4th - 25th Place $100
Detailed results T-Shirt: What Language do you Speak?      Creative Commons License

China's Tiancheng Lou (ACRush) Takes No. 1 at Google Code Jam 2008

1st Place $10,000 ACRush
2nd Place $5,000 Innovative.Cat
3rd Place $2,500 bmerry
4th - 10th Place $1,500
11th - 30th Place $1,000
31th - 50th Place $750
51th - 75th Place $500
76th - 100th Place $250
Detailed results

This was the first Code Jam run by Google on our own platform, built on Google App Engine. The competition boasted over eleven thousand contestants from 118 different countries and regions. One of the reasons we were excited about running our own Code Jam was that contestants would be able to use the programming language of their choice, and they sure did: in the qualification round alone we saw over 40 programming languages, from C++ to Objective CAML to Erlang.

Two of the big stories of this tournament hailed from very different parts of the globe: South Africa's Bruce Merry (bmerry) and China's Tiancheng Lou (ACRush). bmerry dominated his last three rounds before the final, with two firsts and a second place, including a regional victory that left him twiddling his thumbs for the last third of the competition; meanwhile ACRush won his own regional. In the final, the South African had all but one of the problems solved with an hour to spare. Fortunately for his Chinese competitor, Bruce couldn't see the trick needed to finish Mine Layer; and with seven minutes left in the competition, Tiancheng solved it to edge him out by a mere two points, and to claim the title of champion.