Funny, I go on a trip to Penghu followed by a four-day science camp and also get dragged into drawing classes and some sort of movie advising joint, and this is what I decide to blog about.
Since it’s summer, I went back to Rankk and solved stuff. This is lots of fun if you’re good with computers, plus a little math, cryptography, and general puzzling. I’m still stuck on level 8… oh well. Since the levels didn’t seem very indicative of difficulty to me, I decided to do some analysis.
New challenges have been added to Rankk over time, so my metric of difficulty is the number of solvers divided by the time from release to now. Of course this is far from perfect; for example, a challenge’s author doesn’t always seem consistently counted as a solver, problems with lower numbers and problems that will help level up are more likely to get checked out by new rankkers, and so on. But this is just for fun.
“I have been told that any encryption becomes safer if the underlying algorithm is maximally obscured, what is most conveniently done by coding it in Haskell.” — rankk
Functional programming is terribly addicting! Partly I think the completely different way of thinking makes it feel like learning programming, and falling in love with it, all over again. Partly there’s this evil sense of satisfaction from using
$s (and later
&&&s) to improve readability for initiated Haskellers and worsen it for everybody else. Partly it’s because Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! is such a fun read — there are too many funny bits to list but my favorite so far is when the author analyzes the first verse of Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend.
Although I think my code in Haskell tends to be more readable than in other languages, code obfuscation in Haskell is almost natural: all you have to do is refactor the wrong function to be “pointfree”, which means that even though it’s a function that takes arguments, you define it without parameters by manipulating and joining a bunch of other functions. Example (plus a few other tiny obfuscations):
isPrime = liftA2 (&&) (liftA2 ($) (all . ((.) (0 /=)) . rem) (flip
takeWhile [2..] . (flip (.) $ liftA2 (*) id id) . (>=))) ((<) 1)
QQ wordpress why no Haskell highlighting
Also, for some reason, you can do this in Haskell:
ghci> let 2 + 2 = 5 in 2 + 2
(via Haskell for the Evil Genius)
Okay, but seriously now. I wrote this about my journey to learn functional programming in the programming babble post half a year ago:
The main obstacle I have is that it’s hard to optimize or get asymptotics when computation is expensive (a big problem if you’re trying to learn through Project Euler problems, particularly ones with lots of primes).
Okay I don’t actually know how this pointless rambling got so long. I know the longer it is the more people will just tend to skim, because I do that all the time. So I went back and refactored—er, rewrote all the somewhat tangential bits (wow these puns are too easy) into footnotes. Manually. Obviously if I have to do this again I’ll write a script for it. But the post is still really long, and I bet nobody will read the whole thing. Oh well.
Life updates: I got out of the hospital Friday two-and-a-half weeks ago, went to the preliminaries of NPSC (a national team programming contest) with classmates, threw up a lot, went back into the hospital, and came out again. I wrote a lot of stuff about the experience and how much it sucked (hint: a lot) when I started this draft around that time, but now putting so much detail in this post feels weird. I’m mostly good now.
Three years ago NPSC was the only programming contest I really knew of; now I’ve participated in quite a few more, both online and locally, but it’s still the only contest I’ve entered that gives you real-time verdicts. I believe it inherits this from being modeled after ACM-ICPC, but that’s for college people and I’m less clear on how it works. All the other contests, namely TopCoder, CodeForces, USACO, and the other local individual competition (there doesn’t appear to be an English name so for the purpose of this post I’ll just call it “Nameless Local”; there’s a nation-wide competition in one-and-a-half weeks!), have system tests after the contest that don’t allow you to resubmit afterwards.1 They all give pretests that you get to know about right away, just to catch super-silly non-algorithmic mistakes like failing to remove the debug statements or reading input from the wrong place, but these contain weak test cases and don’t guarantee that the solution will pass the system tests and get full score.
(No, it’s not a factorial sign. Your mathematical sense of humor is entertaining.)
I’m a sucker for challenges of every kind. I just can’t resist to take a shot at any of these. On one hand, it’s a great way to work out my brain while having fun. On the other hand, it’s one big reason why I still procrastinate so badly. And there are so many responsibilities and projects I want to do…
Still, the feeling of achievement is just amazingly exhilarating.
So it seems the rules were phrased a little more tightly than I thought. Thus, I’ll offer a censored version of the solutions to the level 7 tasks, by replacing every character with something else. Here.
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