Code golf

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Code golf is a type of recreational computer programming competition in which participants strive to achieve the shortest possible source code that solves a given problem. While the exact origins of this sport is lost to history, it is known to have been popular with early APLers. While dedicated golfing languages (programming languages constructed expressly for the purpose of winning code golf competitions) usually can accomplish the goal with shorter code than APL can muster, APL does almost always have the upper hand when compared to other production languages. This is thanks to APL's array comprehension and common operations being represented by single characters.

For production code, one normally shouldn't just strive for code that is as short as possible, as code clarity, execution speed, and memory usage usually are more important. However, engaging in code golf can serve to:

  • encourage exploration of the programming language's facilities
  • learn cutting edge techniques
  • become more comfortable with the lesser known features of one's programming language
  • become accustomed to think out-of-the-box which may lead to realising better ways of approaching problems
  • have fun while programming leading to a better state of mind and thus better code and higher effectivity

Stack Exchange's Code Golf site has a very active group of APL golfers, with a significant percentage of new posts receiving APL answers within a relatively short time. They tend to convene in the APL Orchard to ask for help, discuss solutions, and challenge each other.

Several formal code golf tournaments have been conducted during recent years. For example, a couple of Dyalog User Meetings have hosted half-day code golf workshops.

External links

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