Only a short post today as I was spending most of the morning on the phone with some PR folks in Germany talking about the German National Computer Science Competition (page in German). I participated in and was one of five national winners in one of the early years this competition was held. They called to find out what I thought of it all these years later (this year marks the 30th anniversary of the competition overall). I told them that I had very fond memories and was glad to see this tradition continue for a number of reasons (other than feeling good about winning). At the time it was the first formal recognition that spending a lot of time learning how to program a computer was something potentially worthwhile. My parents had been super supportive but still didn’t quite know what to make of computers and there was nothing at school. It also was a great way of meeting other kids who were really into computers which was particularly great for me as I lived in a relatively small village. The competition with its emphasis on algorithms helped spur my interest in a deeper understanding of computing which has served me well over the year. Finally, as a winner I automatically qualified for an important scholarship which helped pay part of my way through Harvard as an undergraduate. So I continue to be grateful for the existence of this competition and am happy to see it still going strong!