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I often stuck on some competitive programming problems. I don't know a good place to ask my question. If my issue is about the algorithm to use not the implementation, can I ask my question here? How about problems that I have absolutely no idea about the solution, is it okay to ask for help in this site? If so what should I name the question? For instance is UVA 11293 an acceptable question title?

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    $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean by "competitive programming"? Questions about properties of algorithms, and comparisons between different algorithms are certainly on topic here! Yet, specific implementations are off-topic. $\endgroup$ – Ran G. Nov 13 '15 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ Do note that we discourage posts that simply state a problem out of context, and expect the community to solve it. Generally it's better to ask some specific question about some specific aspect or concept that you're stuck on. Also, make sure to cite your sources (where the programming contest problem came from), and if the competition is currently running, I recommend you make sure that the competition allows you to ask others for help with your solution. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Nov 14 '15 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ What is UVA 11293 supposed to mean? $\endgroup$ – muru Nov 14 '15 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ There's an Area 51 proposal for a dedicated competitive programming site. If you're interested in that topic, please support it. $\endgroup$ – RedGreenCode Feb 5 '17 at 21:54
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If my issue is about the algorithm to use not the implementation, can I ask my question here?

Depends. If you have an actual question about what you have tried, yes. If you want to post, "How to solve [UVA 11293]?", no.

How about problems that I have absolutely no idea about the solution, is it okay to ask for help in this site?

Depends. Can you formulate a specific, computer science question that makes at least a small step beyond the problem statement? Yes. If you want to post "I need an idea for [UVA 11293]!", no. You may want to try our chat instead.

If so what should I name the question? For instance is UVA 11293 an acceptable question title?

No, that is never an acceptable title. You should describe the question in the title. The name of an exercise problem, overly generic titles like "algorithm problem" or "dynamic programming" are useless. If you can not formulate a better title -- one that describes your question shortly but aptly -- you are not ready to post yet.


It all comes down to this: we expect posters to have done something before they post, and show it. Useful steps are

  • understanding the problem statement (you'd be surprised...),
  • trying the obvious,
  • researching the literature resp. on the internet, and finally
  • describing where you got stuck, that is why the above did not work.

"I don't know how to begin, help?!" is always a bad question. You want to post something like "I have tried to set up a dynamic programming recurrence, but I'm not sure about the second case. I think I have to consider X but how do I do that?".

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