Posted by: David Stewart | August 8, 2012

The Geek Olympics

At my house, we’re pretty big Olympics watchers. Since I don’t have cable TV, we’re limited to a single channel of coverage, otherwise I’d be getting even less sleep than I am now.

I have a a friend who complains that some sports just shouldn’t be in the Olympics, because they are not really Sports. Usually the complaint is about horse jumping or skeet shooting. I have another friend who complains that “artistic interpretation” have no place in the Olympics.

Some sports get added or dropped from the games. Beach Volleyball is a noteable addition. Some sports have also been dropped, like Tug of War and Bicycle Polo. One sport dropped early on was “Poetry.”

Yes, there were medals awarded in the first Olympics of the modern era for Poetry. But it was dropped early on due to the difficulty of judging an event like that with multiple languages. You could imagine trying to judge a poem in Finnish and Chinese.

We should petition the International Olympic Committee to add the sport of “Algorithmics.”

  • There is already an international body which could sanction the event, the Association for Computing Machinery.
  • The first event would be Speed Programming, which would require athletes to solve a particular problem in a fixed time frame, scored by taking some input and delivering a stream of outputs. Scoring is based on delivering the most correct outputs in a fixed time. (These events have been held by ACM in past).
  • Future events could include Doubles Speed Programming, Team Debugging, Performance Optimization.

Why not? Algorithmic thinking is probably more critical to contemporary life than riding horses or throwing sticks. It’s time for the Geek Events to be added to the Olympics.

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