# Saturday, November 08, 2003

This week, Corillian (my employer) sponsored a programming contest for employees.  What I thought was one of the coolest parts was that non-technical people were encouraged to join teams (of 2-4) to solve the programming problem by contributing their problem solving skills.  

Since the contest is over (although the results haven’t been announced yet) I can let the cat out of the bag.  It was a word search.  Given a dictionary of words, and a rectangular array of characters, find all the words from the dictionary that exist in the puzzle, in any direction.  

It was a total blast.  I was on a team with some folks I know from STEP, Dr. Tom (a real live doctor of computer science), and Darin (a hardcore ATL head) and Don (a QA engineer).  Much fun was had by all.  I haven’t had such pure geek fun in a long time.  I woke up the next morning still thinking about potential optimizations to our solution (which ended up being in C#).  I got to work to find email from Dr. Tom with some more suggestions. 

I thought it was a really great idea to get people thinking about hardcore programming problems, involve non-technical people, and just have a lot of fun coding.  I’ll be really interested to see all the solutions after the judging is complete.  

Kudos to Scott and Chris for coming up with the problem and the reference implementation.