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I know a bit of C++, Java and Ruby. I want to be proficient in one of these now and I don't know how to pick. I was wondering if picking one over the other would be advantageous in any way for competitive programming?

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1 Answer 1

I've had some (minor) experience with the ACM ICPC, which I suppose is quite similar to most programming contests. If I had to pick a language, I'd do so in the following order:

  1. Your level of competence / comfort in the language. Number of problems solved almost always trumps time taken to solve them, so your priority is to get things working.
  2. The degree to which that language helps you with different types of problems. Some languages just have better support for certain things. Take string manipulation for example - many serious teams have at least one person who is (very) competent in a language which is good at string manipulation.
  3. The general verbosity of the language. While the limiting factor will probably be your ability to come up with solutions, it does help if you don't have to write "useless" things, like the types of exceptions you might be expecting. This is a programming competition, you are not meant to write the code for maintainability.
  4. The speed of the language, in general. If running time is slow, you are probably using the wrong algorithm, and in any case, you won't have time to micro-optimise the code. Many people make their choice based on this, and in my opinion, poorly.

BTW, this topic is fairly well documented and discussed on the net - simple googling will lead you to a variety of topics and stories.

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