I regularly compete in so called "Programming Contests", where you solve difficult algorithmic problems with your own code and problem solving skills during a limited time-frame. For referential examples of what those might look like, search for competitions like e.g. Google Code Jam, or ACM-ICPC.

(If you know what programming contests are, you can skip the following paragraph)

In these contests, you can compete either individually or in teams, at a physical site or online, and the goal is to solve as many problems as possible before the contest is over. Each problem is associated with certain constraints which your solution must fulfill, such as running time, utilized memory, etc. The problem difficulty can range from "obvious how to solve" to "demanding great knowledge or heavy ingenuity to crack". The main goal is of course to have fun, but success may in some cases lead to cash prizes, honor, and perchance even an interview with recruiters of top-notch companies like Google.

(If you skipped the above paragraph, stop skipping, because here comes my question)

Through programming contests I have been able to develop a genuine interest for algorithmics, computer science in general, and an overall sense of meaning when it comes to coding and developing my problem-solving skills. I would like to do so in scientific computing as well.

Question: Do there exist any competitions in the same vein as the purely algorithmic kind, but with a focus on numerical analysis, optimization et cetera?

I tried Googling, but couldn't find any at first glance…

Addendum: I got the suggestion to check out Project Euler, but that isn't really what I was looking for. What I want is more an arena to practice the more "dirty" kind of numerics, like getting creative with solution schemes for pde's, solving numerical optimization problems, et cetera. Just for comparison, Kaggle is a site where you can practice data mining, machine learning etc. in various contests held regularly. I want something like that, but for implementing and getting creative with numerical schemes and the likes.

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    $\begingroup$ Have a look at Project Euler: https://projecteuler.net/. These are mathematical problems that have a strong computational component. $\endgroup$
    – GoHokies
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @GoHokies Thanks for the suggestion, but I have been a member there for a good three years up until now (over 100 problems solved too). That site is a bit more "pure"/combinatorial in the mathematics than what I want. What I am looking for is more of an arena to practice the more "dirty" kind of stuff, like solving pde's numerically or applying optimization methods / algorithms. You don't really do that in programming contests, nor do you do so at Project Euler or similar sites. For example, Kaggle is a site for data mining contests, I want something like that for concrete numerics. $\endgroup$
    – MonadBoy
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 12:49

3 Answers 3


I don't know of any current contests, but you can definitely have a look at the SIAM 100-digit challenge. It's a set of 10 problems for which the contest required 10 correct digits per problem. All problems are of the type "if you do it blindly, you'll only get a couple of digits" (unless you resorted to multi-precision arithmetic with in some cases a huge amount of digits needed). See here for the Wikipedia page with just the challenges and the 10 digit solutions

The book "The SIAM 100-Digit Challenge" discusses all ten problems and provides different approaches to get 10 or even more digits correct. I heartily recommend it. But it's fun to try first without peeking and then read about all neat numerical algorithms that exist to solve those problems.

  • $\begingroup$ This is exactly the type of problems I am looking for, at least. I'll have a look at the references in the Wiki-article too. $\endgroup$
    – MonadBoy
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that was a great collection of problems. I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about them when they came out! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:46

One alternative would be top coder data science competitions. It doe not fit your description, but you can encounter very often contests which are a combination of algorithms - combinatorial - numerical calculus - machine learning. I would keep an eye on those.

A link to the home page for data science competitions is here.


Have you seen the competitions organised by GECCO (Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference)? http://gecco-2016.sigevo.org/index.html/HomePage#&panel1-1

There are several different competitions for the 2016 conference on the page at: http://gecco-2016.sigevo.org/index.html/Competitions

Some of the competitions can be attempted even though you have no intention of attending the conference.

  • $\begingroup$ I've never even heard of them until now. Thanks for the tip! $\endgroup$
    – MonadBoy
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 13:52

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