Introduction to Programming Challenges

Learn algorithms with the help of two simple programming challenges.

Chapter goal

This chapter will discuss two simple programming challenges and walk you through a step-by-step process of solving them. We will encounter several common pitfalls and show you how to fix them.

Below is a brief overview of what it takes to solve a programming challenge in four steps:

  1. Reading the problem statement: The problem statement specifies the input-output format and the constraints for the input data, as well as time and memory limits. The goal is to implement a fast program that solves the problem and works within the time and memory limits.

  2. Designing an algorithm: When the problem statement is clear, start designing an algorithm, and don’t forget to prove that it works correctly.

  3. Implementing an algorithm: After developing an algorithm, implement it in a programming language of choice.

  4. Testing and debugging the program: Testing is the art of revealing bugs. Debugging is the art of exterminating bugs. Once the program is ready, start testing it. If a bug is found, fix it and test again.

We’ll be solving the following two problems in this chapter:

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