Shouldn’t the algorithmic problem statements and their editorials designed for online international programming contests, which are published on well known coding platforms like Codeforces, Codechef, Topcoder etc. be considered as worthy of publications in academia?

Before publishing the problem statement online, the moderators, testers and editorialists of the platform review the problems and rigorous testing is carried out. Also testers and editorialists are invited from all over the world based on respective expertise and their review, tested code and editorial is made available online for further discussions and improvements.

Each problem statement is open for feedback, ratings and corrections/bug reports from the users.

Also, before publishing, the statement undergoes intensive plagiarism, quality and novelty checks.

Authors of the problem statements also submit their solutions in form of tested code, logical explanation, proofs and test cases to the hosting/publishing platform.

In short, these problem statements also undergo a rigorous review process.

Any perspectives are appreciated.

  • 1
    Unless you already have the knowledge and reputation to do something at the level of Hilbert's problems, probably not.
    – Zenon
    Jul 29, 2020 at 18:15
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    Probably you mean something more specific than "academia," because I have no idea what those are. Jul 29, 2020 at 18:36
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    Please answer the simple question: Do you submit solutions? Yes or No?
    – Nobody
    Jul 30, 2020 at 6:40
  • 1
    Sir, @scaaahu, Yes! Jul 30, 2020 at 6:58
  • 13
    Sir Deepak Tatyaji Ahire, I want to friendly inform you that most people (especially women) in the world/in international forums do not prefer to be refered to as "Sir".
    – user111388
    Jul 30, 2020 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


No. Those contributions are not peer-reviewed (in the traditional sense) and they do not describe computer science research (in the traditional sense).

Regular authorship of accepted IOI problems (for example) would be considered valuable service/outreach work, which should definitely be mentioned in an academic CV. But that value derives at least partly from the rigorous screening process that IOI problems go through before they are actually used, which comparable to peer-review. I wouldn't expect contributions to platforms like Codeforces or Topcoder (or StackExchange!) to carry as much weight.

Update: Until the question was edited, I was not aware of that Codeforces, Codechef, and Topcoder also required a rigorous review process. But I would still argue that those contributions are still not research of the type that is normally valued in academia, so I would still classify them as service (or outreach, or educational) contributions rather than publications.

But really, I think "Should these be considered publications?" is the wrong question. The right question is "Are these valued as scholarly contributions to the author's target academic community?" That value comes from two sources: content (Are the contributions of the form that the community values?) and reputation (Do trusted people in the community advocate for their value?)

For example, my theoretical computer science research papers have little or no value to biologists, historians, or competitive programmers, because those communities are looking for things that my papers don't provide. Yes, they're publications, but not in any sense that would matter if I were to try to switch careers. The only way that could change is by someone who is already trusted in the biology, history, or competitive programming community publicly declaring that my papers actually are important for that community's work.

I'm not aware of an academic community that would value Topcoder problems as the same kind of thing as research publications. Those problems are not intended to expand the boundaries of human knowledge; they serve a different purpose. And so my answer is still "No."

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    sir, I respect your point, but before publishing the problem statement, the moderators, testers and editorialists of the platform review the problems and rigorous testing is carried out before the problem goes online. Also, the testers and editorialists are invited based on respective expertise and their review, tested code and editorial is made available online for further discussions and improvements. Jul 30, 2020 at 5:09
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    Sir, @JeffE, kindly have a look at the modified question. Jul 30, 2020 at 5:21

To complement @JeffE’s excellent answer, I think it’s worth making explicit what the flawed premise behind your question is. You seem to think that what gives value to academic papers as markers of professional achievement is that they undergo a process of review by experts, as well as the fact that they are “submitted”, “published”, and that some “feedback” is given on them.

The problem is that you are fixating on cosmetic aspects of the process of academic publishing that are by no means specific to that type of activity, and that have only a tangential connection to why the activity is valued the way it is. In fact there are many types of creative works that undergo all of these processes that you listed. If I wrote a novel or a cookbook, I would have to submit it to a publisher who would find someone to review and critique it. Eventually it might be published if it was considered good enough. Similarly if I wrote a script for a film or TV show I wanted to get produced, or wrote an essay I wanted to get published in a newspaper, or made a work of art I wanted to exhibit in a gallery or museum. None of those things are in my job description as a researcher in a particular academic discipline (math in my case), and none of those things are things my department will give me any professional credit for doing - although I’m sure my colleagues would be quite impressed if I did them.

The same goes for writing problems for a programming competition. It’s a fine activity that I’m sure is intellectually quite challenging and rewarding, and as JeffE said may even have some academic value as an educational activity. But research it isn’t, and it won’t be valued in the same way as actual research.

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