The Rorschach test for programmers (was RE: [JOB] Perl Software Developer and Database programmer )

McGlinchy, Alistair Alistair.McGlinchy at
Thu Feb 23 13:28:07 GMT 2006

Ovid proposed:
> >     foreach my $alpha ( @alphas ) {
> >         foreach my $beta ( @betas ) {
> >             if ( $alpha == $beta ) {
> >                 push @results, $beta;
> >             }
> >         }
> >     }

Dirk offered:
> Beauty, in programming, generally equates to simplicity and 
> obviousness written down well.

That's what made the problem so cool (and evil but it's pretty common
that these two go together). It was simple but not obvious. Unlike a 40
character golf solution where every programmer can see immediately "thar
be dragons", this problem's dragons (the use of ==  and the ostensible
intersection functionality) were elegantly hidden.

An excellent Rorschach test for programmers, and like Rorschach tests,
the often say as much about the examiner as they do the examinee. [*]

I'd be interested to know what Ovid believes a candidate should respond
in order to get the job.  Saying "This question is
stupid/wrong/weird/badly formed/fun/a symbol of my sexuality" in an
interview would take a lot of courage and I get the feeling would be
heavily frowned upon. Perhaps I'm wrong?


[*] An excellent summary of what to say to look sane.


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