Are you passionate about coding and love to solve coding challenges? If yes, then competitive programming is the best opportunity for you to try out your coding and problem-solving skills. Competitive programmers from every corner of the world compete on CP platforms to secure higher ranks.

This article guides you through each step required to start a competitive programming journey. You will get an in-depth insight into every aspect of competitive programming.

What is Competitive Programming?

Competitive programming is all about finding the best and most optimized solution to a problem. It is a mind sport where you have to come up with a logic that is apt and does not violate any constraint and the time limit. This blog will walk you through each and every aspect of competitive programming, covering every corner and leaving no stone unturned.

Competitive Programming for a Bright Career

Well, if you are indulged in CP, this section might excite you. There are various reputed platforms for competitive programmers where doing good and getting higher rank-ups can get you in tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Goldman Sachs.

A competitive programmer can grab the job of SDE (Software Development Engineer), technical analyst, and all the jobs related to technical fields. This simply means that a competitive programmer can never run out of job opportunities!

How to prepare for Competitive Programming?

1. Choose the Programming Language

The first and the most important step of kick-starting your journey in competitive programming is choosing the right programming language. C++, Python, and Java are considered to be the most popular languages for CP. But in my opinion, C++ is the best language for competitive programming. The reason behind this is:

  • C++ is faster than Python and Java. The same code in C++ could work fine whereas in Python and Java it could give TLE.
  • C++ is very popular for competitive programming and so it has a large programmers community that can help you learn and grow.
  • The Standard Template Library (STL) of C++ has various predefined classes that can make your work easy and efficient.

You should be thorough with all the popular algorithms like different sorting algorithms, Greedy algorithms, the Dijkstra algorithm, and so on. Most of them are indirectly associated with many questions where the optimized solution needs such algorithms to be added

Space and time complexity play a major role in competitive programming. You can be asked in your interviews to explain the time and space complexity of your code. The better the complexity of the code, the more optimized your code is.

3. Dive Deep into Data Structures

Data Structures are the heart of competitive programming. One must be proficient in DSA to step up in competitive programming. Data structures like Array, Linked List, Stacks, Queues, Trees, Graphs, and Heap are the key to the success of a competitive programmer.

After brushing up all the basics and familiarizing yourself with the DSA fundamentals, it’s time to start practicing. Practice is the only golden rule that can make you succeed in the journey to learn competitive programming.

There are numerous platforms where you can find a good variety of competitive programming questions. You can start with websites like Codechef, HackerRank, LeetCode, and Codeforces. Many tech giants consider the ranking of a candidate on these sites during the hiring process.

5. Participate in Challenges and Contests

Contests are a great way to test your competitive programming skills. You get to compete with the CP enthusiasts like you and even with some experienced programmers throughout the globe.

Participating regularly in such challenges and contests boosts your confidence and provides you the opportunity to get noticed by various tech giants who directly hire top rankers from such contests.

6. Key Tips

The following points highlight the most crucial tips that can help you throughout your competitive programming journey.

  • Make notes whenever you learn any new concept of DSA. They will be with you in your journey from starting CP to preparing for the interviews.
  • Before submitting your solution, do a dry run with some sample input cases. If there are any errors in the program, then they will be identified during the dry run.
  • Practice regularly and try to participate in as many contests as you can. This develops a habit of solving a variety of questions in less time.
  • When you practice any new question, try to find the most optimized solution. This helps a lot in interviews, where you are asked different approaches ranging from the naive approach to the most optimized one.

Bottom Line

If you are passionate about solving coding challenges, then competitive programming is the best choice for you. It needs patience and a lot of practice.  Apart from boosting up your resume, it sharpens your skills like decision-making, teamwork, and the ability to come up with effective solutions in less time. Competitive programming is definitely the bridge that can lead you to get placed in your dream company.