March 23, 2005

main { printf ("It was a dark and stormy night"); return 0; }

Yay! This year's installment of The International Obfuscated C Code Contest started this Monday.

The IOCCC is like the programming equivalent of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest - except that, instead of celebrating bad prose, it celebrates bad C code. The founders were inspired to start the contest after having to debug some extraordinarily broken code at work, so they got on Usenet and taunted others to try and out-obfuscate it. The result is the Internet's longest running contest.

My personal favourite - primarily since, as a non-programmer, it's one of the few I understand - is the 1988 entry that calculates the value of π by using an ASCII representation of a circle. (For a more accurate calculation, draw a bigger circle.)