In our line of work we experience quite many challenges. Unfortunately, most of them stay unresolved due to lack of time on our side. Together with University of Ljubljana and its Faculty of Computer and Information Science we have decided to select the most interesting problems we have experienced lately and challenge students if they are able to solve them. To provide also some extrinsic motivation to students participating we will be giving away a few iPad minis and the students will have a chance for a paid summer internship at Zemanta (in addition to three higher education credits the students can earn by successfully solving one of the challenges). The three programming challenges that we have selected are distributed counters, distributed web page aggregation, and measuring actual usage of mobile web pages. We have structured the challenges in such a way that basic solution should be within reach of any student with intermediate programming knowledge, while there is no upper bound on sophistication of the solution. The distributed counters challenge can be solved either with a simple key-value implementation using MySQL with replication, or can be tackled using latest CRDT theory. Distributed web page aggregation can implement just simple functionality of http fetch in a distributed manner or can account for all intricacies of aggregating content such as intelligent schedule of fetching and smart revisits. Similarly, measuring actual usage of mobile web pages can track only the basic indicators and provide only barebone reporting, or can provide a full-fledged analytics comparable to Google Analytics or ChartBeat. It is entirely up to a student how much talent and effort he or she is prepared to invest in the solution, and that will be also the main criteria for selecting the winners of the competition.
We require all solutions to be open source as we believe that at least some of solutions (hopefully all of them) will be of high enough quality to be of interest to wider community. I hope we got you excited and we kindly invite you to apply by March 17th by sending an e-mail to izzivZemanta@fri.uni-lj.si. More details about the competition are available here.