seeking story source

Posted in Hacking at 12:29 pm by ducky

I heard a story once, but don’t have any idea where it came from. It’s too good a story to let die, so do any of you know where this story came from?

A computer science department had a programming competition of some sort. The winner would be the team that computed the result fastest. The contestants could enter as many times as they wanted without penalty.

One team entered a (slow) program that calculated the value, wrote it to a file, submitted it, and quit. They then entered a second program which read the value from that file and submitted it. They were way, way faster than any of the other teams.

The computer science department was split. About a third didn’t care. A third thought that the team were cheaters and should be completely disqualified and scorn heaped upon them. A third thought that the team was brilliant and should get the top prize and high praises.

The way I remember the story, the department was ripped apart by this issue. It laid bare some fundamental differences in value priorities such that the faculty was unable to work together.

Is this apocryphal? Urban legend? True? Help me out here….

Comments »

  1. Best Webfoot Forward » divergent reactions said,

    November 3, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    […] blogged about divisions over the proper reaction to a programming contest entry; recently something similar […]

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