I've got an idea for a fun (!) challenge but it would be a little different from the ones I normally see on this site. The challenge would be to come up with an algorithm that solves the problem the best way and to implement it in code, which I would estimate taking a day or two to work on. The winner would be the program that generates the best output according to an objective criteria.

Would this sort of thing be welcome on this site?

(The following isn't the challenge I'm thinking of, but to give you an idea of scope.)

Compress Shakespeare.
Write a program that will take a text file containing English text and produce some program code that will reproduce the input text. I'm looking for algorithmic cleverness since no-one has yet developed a good general purpose compression algorithm.

Your program should work with any text file, but the winner will be the code that produces the shortest output from Shakespeare's hamlet, (link).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure what makes this different than some of our existing optimization style code challenges (example). Can you share any more details about how it would work? \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Aug 25, 2015 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've added an example challenge that could have been a little interesting a few decades ago. \$\endgroup\$
    – billpg
    Aug 25, 2015 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say they are if there is indeed an objective criteria, but the main problem is that the challenge shouldn't be too hard. If it takes days to get a working answer, chances are most people won't be interested in the challenge (personally, I wouldn't want to invest this much free time in a program just for green "+10"s) \$\endgroup\$
    – Fatalize
    Aug 25, 2015 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fatalize I participated in a few performance/algorithm challenges that were a lot of work. If the goal is gaining rep, they are certainly not worth it. And they typically don't get a lot of participation. 2-3 answers is about typical. For me, I participate in them if I'm really interested in the problem. I actually enjoy finding efficient solutions for fairly complex problems more than code golf. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2015 at 3:56

1 Answer 1


There aren't many challenges on this site which are are aimed at that level of effort, but there are some, and they seem to be well received. See e.g. Emulate an Intel 8086 CPU.

However, the specific example you mention is very badly chosen. The easy pickings of compression / Kolmogorov complexity have been done more than enough times, and your example would be closed as a duplicate (e.g. of Text compression and decompression — "Nevermore.").

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The compression example was just the first thing that popped into my head. I don't want to give away my actual idea until its ready. \$\endgroup\$
    – billpg
    Aug 25, 2015 at 23:29

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