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Obfuscated Code Contest Returns

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Credit: United Methodeviations

The International Obfuscated C Code Contest (IOCCC) recently launched a challenge for the first time in five years, asking participants to write bizarre and unnecessarily complex C programming code. The goal of the contest is to stress to programmer the importance of good programming style. The contest also has some secondary benefits, such as exposing both structural quirks of the C language and weaknesses of the standard compilers.

Winning programs have "pushed the boundaries of the C language," says IOCCC co-founder Landon Curt Noll. The judges are looking for code written in such a way that another programmer would have extreme difficulty determining what the program actually does, according to Noll. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the rules are not entirely straightforward, beyond a few basic principles, such as the code must be able to be compiled on a standard ANSI C compiler and must come with documentation that clearly states what the program is supposed to do.

IOCCC will accept submissions for this year's contest beginning Dec. 1, and the deadline for submissions is Jan. 12, 2012. "One of the things that the contest emphasizes is that having a working program is not enough," Noll says. "The code has to be maintainable and adaptable."

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