Hung Truong: The Blog!

Greplin Programming Challenge

February 16, 2011 | 1 Minute Read

I had some spare time on Monday and just read about Greplin getting some funding (and I guess they just went out of private beta today), so I did the Greplin Programming Challenge.

Unlike many programming challenges, the problems in this one were pretty easy to solve. I think a lot of people on Hacker News complained that you could basically brute force them into submission. For example, one question is finding a prime Fibonacci number. I’m sure there’s super smart ways to do it but I just iterated through Fibs and then ran a really slow primeness function on each one. It worked eventually!

I finished the challenge and sent an email to the Greplin guys, since the challenge instructed me to do so. After reading through some of their site, the challenge actually started to make more sense to me. From their jobs page:

You should know the fastest way to do something – which sometimes means the least CPU cycles and sometimes means the least programmer cycles.

Basically, you could figure out the most efficient way to do the challenges (from a computational perspective) at a cost to programming time. Or you could recognize that N was trivially large for all of the challenge cases and just code something really simple up and get the answer. I picked the latter. Greplin is probably looking for both types, so I think they did a good job designing the challenge.

In other news, I signed up for their service and tried it out. It seems like a really cool concept and I like it so far. I kind of wish there was a roll your own version though. I dunno if I can trust Greplin with all of my innermost secrets… It’s bad enough that Google has all of your email; Greplin can have that plus your tweets and Facebook stuff too!