Why Is Python the Best Programming Language for Competitions?

When participating in coding contests, programmers may question whether their Python skills are proficient enough to excel. Such a mindset is completely valid.

Companies that specialise in a specific product are constantly on the lookout for highly skilled programmers who can fulfil their ongoing needs. As part of the hiring process, candidates are frequently given a hypothetical programming problem to solve. They are given a set of preset inputs and required to determine the output. These programming tasks are created to evaluate the candidate’s logical and mathematical abilities, in addition to their problem-solving capabilities. Competitive programming assessments are another technique for employers to determine the response time and cognitive speed of a potential employee. Throughout these assessments, competitors are expected to reduce the time and space complexity of their solutions.

Why should competitive coders prepare themselves with Python?

In modern times, Python has emerged as one of the most desirable programming languages, owing to its adaptability in a diverse array of fields including software engineering, data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Its prevalence is proof of its usefulness and efficacy in these domains, rendering it a highly coveted aptitude for numerous employers.

A 2002 study conducted by Nirma University uncovered that programmers who have a strong grasp of the Python programming language are considerably more likely to excel in the Google Code Jam – an exceedingly competitive global programming event – with an impressive success rate of 69%.

The Importance of Python in Competitive Coding

With its expansive array of data structures and a plethora of libraries and frameworks accessible, Python is the ideal language for competitive coding. Furthermore, the ensuing points underpin the benefits of selecting Python for competitive coding competitions:

  1. Striking a Balance between Speed and Ease

    In the fast-paced world of competitive coding, discovering the most efficient solution in the shortest amount of time is crucial. Among conventional programming languages, such as C++, C, and Java, Python surpasses the rest with its minimalistic coding requirements, resulting in time-saving during the development phase. This additional time can then be spent analysing the logic behind the solution. Moreover, Python is a user-friendly and simple language to understand, making it an easily accessible choice for individuals who do not have ample time on their hands. In brief, even if you’re pressed for time, there is no reason not to learn Python basics.
  2. Variety in Data Structures

    With a rich collection of data structures, including tuples, dictionaries, and more, Python offers developers diverse options for addressing intricate programming obstacles. These data structures serve as valuable aids for programmers and can have a significant influence on the results of programming competitions.
  3. Unrestricted Manipulation of Data Types

    Python enables the manipulation of variables without having to specify their data types explicitly. This heightened flexibility extends as far as hardware capacity permits, with the language internally handling the differentiation between integers and long integers, streamlining the type conversion processes. As a result, Python meets the demands of competitive programming with ease, significantly enhancing the speed and quality of code-writing.
  4. Collections of Python Code

    Python is renowned for its vast library that contains a wealth of useful resources such as sort, max, min, count, and numerous others.
    • Minimise and Maximise:

      It is useful in identifying the least or most frequent item in a set.
    • Counting Procedure:

      It can be utilised to determine the number of occurrences of a specific item in a list.
    • The Ordered Function:

      With this function, you can arrange a list in the order that suits you best.

      Below is the Python code that includes input and output, exemplifying the above operations.


      arr = [10, 76, 87, 45, 22, 87, 90, 87, 66, 84, 87]
      print("Maximum = ",max(arr))
      print("Minimum = ",min(arr))
      print("The sorted array is = ",sorted(arr))
      print('Number of occurrences of 87 is = ',arr.count(87))


      ('Maximum = ', 90)
      ('Minimum = ', 10)
      ('The sorted array is = ', [10, 22, 45, 66, 76, 84, 87, 87, 87, 87, 90])
      ('Number of occurrences of 87 is = ', 4)

      Developers often use built-in functions to save time by automating repetitive tasks. One such example is the sorted function, which utilises the timsort algorithm for consistent sorting, even in the worst-case scenario, with a runtime of O(nlogn). The best-case runtime of O(1) makes this algorithm the optimal solution for sorting.
  5. Exceptional Array and Linked List Pairings

    Developers are able to selectively remove or discard segments of their program with Python’s in-built `del` function, as the memory slots remain contiguous, facilitating insertions at any point in the program. Despite the apparent variance between this feature and the linked list paradigm, it still provides users with the option of flexibility. Here is an example of Python’s `del` function.
  6. Specialised List Manipulations

    • Typically, the last item in a list can be accessed using -1 as its index position, regardless of the length of the list. Similarly, the index value of -1 can be used to access the second-to-last item in the list. This feature facilitates the traversal of the entire list without the prerequisite knowledge of its length.
    • Similarly, it can act as a dynamically allocated array without the requirement of a predetermined list size.
    • Python’s capability of yielding more than one result, a feature unavailable in several other programming languages, is a key reason behind its widespread use in competitive coding. The ability to provide multiple values empowers developers to craft sophisticated and efficient programs with greater flexibility.
    • Python’s lists are versatile enough to incorporate an extensive range of data types without requiring the creation of multiple lists.

The Takeaway

With its versatility and simplicity, Python proves to be an excellent language for competitive programming. It provides a convenient platform for demonstrating coding proficiency, regardless of experience level, in examinations and contests. Proficient management of complex programming issues and a thorough comprehension of data structures are two critical facets of developing effective and accurate code. Therefore, mastering Python is imperative for success in competitive programming.

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