I Challenge you to a Duel: Indeed’s 2013-2014 coding competitions

This past February, 136 collegiate coders from UT Austin, UIUC, MIT, UTokyo and 10 other Japanese universities gathered in classrooms across the nation to compete in Indeed’s Coding Duel. This “final showdown” coding competition resulted from the culmination of two duels held in Fall 2013, in the United States and Japan.

Where the Fall 2013 Indeed Coding Duels were isolated to each university, this showdown pitted the top finalists from previous duels against one another. The February showdown also raised the stakes by challenging coders to solve 10 logic and mathematical problems in exchange for a $3,000 cash prize for the top finisher.

What events led up to this final competition? What programming languages dominated the competition? Read on to find out how the competition went down, and how your university can get involved next year.

University Fall Face-off: U.S. competition

The Fall 2013 Indeed Coding Duel attracted about 100 participants from UT, UIUC, and MIT. Participants were given three hours to attempt seven programming exercises similar to the types one might find at an ACM-ICPC competition. With MIT as the new competitor and a friendly rivalry between UIUC and UT, the atmosphere became increasingly lively as the results began rolling in on our live results dashboard.

MIT had the first correct answer on the board, but UIUC and UT quickly followed. As the competitors entered into the final hour of the competition, the competition was neck and neck between MIT and UIUC. In the final half-hour, we turned off the results board, increasing the suspense of the event’s finale. Despite their newcomer status to the competition, MIT edged ahead and won the competition. Both UIUC and UT were close behind, with Illinois ultimately coming in second, and UT in third. The winners at each school won Chromebooks. The second and third place finishers at each school won a Nexus 7 and a Das Keyboard, respectively.

Many students seated at desks and focusing on their laptops

UT students at Indeed’s Fall 2013 Coding Duel (Photo by Jolynn Cunningham)

The casual walk-up nature of Indeed Coding Duels at the U.S. universities attracted engineers representing a variety of programming languages and skills, and underclassmen were eager to hear how they could prepare for future duels (practice makes perfect!).

A December Duel in the East: Japan competition

On December 8, 2013, Recruit and Indeed hosted a similar contest in Japan, inviting all Japanese computer science students to participate. 159 students (109 in Tokyo and 50 in Kyoto) joined the competition.

The excitement of all the participants was palpable in the room and on Twitter at #rprocon. To our surprise, 34 coders submitted a correct answer to the first problem in less than five minutes! Within one hour, one contestant had already solved seven of the eight questions, so we added a ninth question that was not used in the U.S. to keep the winner entertained for the last few hours. An hour later, we had to add a tenth question. The final results were astounding: 19 people solved eight or more problems, including one person who solved all 10. No one from MIT, UIUC or UT Austin had solved more than seven. It was clear to us that the coders from Japan would be a force to be reckoned with in the final competition in the U.S.

Many people seated at desks, focused on laptops

Indeed/Recruit’s Coding Duel in Japan (Photo by Shigeru Nishikawa)

East Meets West: Top finishers from Japan compete stateside

In February 2014, Indeed flew the top finishers from the Japan Indeed/Recruit Coding Duel to Boston for a final showdown against the top U.S. contestants from UT, UIUC, and MIT. Of the 136 competitors in the final duel, 117 students submitted at least one correct solution.

Breakdown of final showdown participants by university:

  • Japanese universities (22)
  • UIUC (26)
  • MIT (35)
  • UT Austin (53)

Doug Gray, SVP Engineering at Indeed, describes the competitive environment at MIT, “We held the competition in a lecture room. Nearly every seat was taken and reporters from Japan and spectators formed a ring around the room. It was quiet except for the sound of clicking keys.”

Many people coding at laptops in a classroom setting

The scene at the final showdown at MIT (Photo by Takeshi Akita)

Our live results dashboard showed coder’s scores as they solved each problem and provided a view into the competitions that were occurring on the UT and UIUC campuses at the same time. The composition of the top 10 finalists included 2 students from MIT, 1 from UIUC and 7 from Japan.

One of the most exciting parts of this competition was the variety of programming languages used by the participants. The two most common languages used were Java and Python, but we also saw some C++ and Ruby. Interestingly, competitors at UT primarily wrote in Java, MIT students favored Python, and UIUC represented a diverse mix.

The programming language breakdown at the final Coding Duel is as follows (by solution, not by contestant):

  • C++ (281)
  • Java (279)
  • Python (234)
  • C (48)
  • Ruby (11)
  • Perl (6)
  • Matlab (3)

The overall winner of the final competition walked away with a $3,000 prize after solving 10 correct problems in three hours. He solved all of the problems using C++.

Japanese tech media reported the results of Indeed and Indeed/Recruit’s Coding Duel’s in Gizmodo (Japan) and Wired (Japan).

Get coding!

Want to be a part of Indeed’s 2014-2015 coding competitions? Make sure to keep your coding skills fresh by participating in Top Coder or by trying your hand at past problems like these from the ACM-ICPC World Finals.

Would you like your school to participate in an Indeed Coding Duel next year? Please email university-tech-recruiting@indeed.com.

UPDATE (2/11/2016): Changed recruiting contact instructions.