For those that don’t know me, I never actually finished school. I was fortunate enough to be able to land a real programming job at the fresh young age of 20 after a 6 month internship where I learned just about everything about programming that I could. This job was at an animation studio and the tasks were so varied that I was introduced to many aspects of programming from server side scripting, to networking computers, to special effects.
Now that I am a professional developer, I am learning that there are some fundamentals that I skipped along the way that are pretty important. The main thing being some of the fundamental algorithms. I am now on a quest to expand my programming ability by learning some of the things that I missed. In my search for how to approach this large topic, I found a website called topcoder where they offer a few interesting things. One is that they actually pay people to come on and complete various challenges to win real money! The thing that interests me is that they have a section where you can go on and do challenge questions that test your ability to code and come up with algorithms. These challenges are presented as word problem with various constraints. Basically you have to take the problem, create a certain class with a certain function that is detailed in the problem, and give the correct output based of the input that is given. ( I may do a post in the future about how to get started doing this as I was a little confused myself on how to navigate around the site and find the challenges )
I am now in the process of working through some of the challenges and I will be posting my progress here for my reference and hopefully I can help out some other people along the way. They also have a section of tutorials that you can learn from here that I am working my way through. I think that a hands on approach is the best way to learn, as well as taking the time to analyze my approach and detailing why I made certain decisions. I think in doing this I will be able to pick up the algorithms I am missing in no time!