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Hal Burch conducted an analysis over spring break of 1999 and made an amazing discovery: there are only 16 types of programming contest problems! Furthermore, the top several comprise almost 80% of the problems seen at the IOI. Here they are:

  • Dynamic Programming
  • Greedy
  • Complete Search
  • Flood Fill
  • Shortest Path
  • Recursive Search Techniques
  • Minimum Spanning Tree
  • Knapsack
  • Computational Geometry
  • Network Flow
  • Eulerian Path
  • Two-Dimensional Convex Hull
  • BigNums
  • Heuristic Search
  • Approximate Search
  • Ad Hoc Problems

The most challenging problems are Combination Problems which involve a loop (combinations, subsets, etc.) around one of the above algorithms – or even a loop of one algorithm with another inside it. These seem extraordinarily tricky to get right, even though conceptually they are “obvious”.

If you can master solving just 40% of these problem types, you can almost guarantee a silver medal at the IOI. Mastering 80% moves you into the gold range almost for sure. Of course, `mastery’ is a tough nut to crack! We’ll be supplying a plethora of problems so that you can hone your skills in the quest for international fame.

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