10 Enhancements to the TopCoder Platform: Bigger Data, Cloud Elasticity, and Updated Languages
More cowbell. The timeless Saturday Night Live skit starring Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken, and a constantly giggling Jimmy Fallon is seared into our memories and with good reason; It was funny. The character Walken is portraying has a ‘fever’ and as we all know by now, there was only one cure. Goofiness aside, the point was that sometimes you need more of a great thing to make it even better. Just this week, the TopCoder Platform underwent 10 specific enhancements that help make the world’s most advanced Open Innovation platform, that much better. The enhancements break down into 3 major categories: software language updates, VM-Cloud enablement, and increases to the sheer size of Big Data sets our community can access and work on.
There are 2 distinct camps that will see a large impact from these advancements; our community members and our clients.
For our TopCoder Community members – nearly 500,000 of you from across the globe – these enhancements mean you’ll be able to create more concise, more expressive code. It also means more opportunity than ever, as our newer Big Data capabilities allows TopCoder to take on even grander data challenges.
For our clients (and prospects about to begin work on the platform), these enhancements will help our community create even better solutions for you, faster than before, while allowing you to bring to TopCoder much larger data sets that can be the centerpiece for our Marathon Matches (TopCoder’s 2 to 3 week, long-form algorithmic challenges).
Let’s review the updates:
For a long time now we have been listening to our community members as they actively reminded us in forums, on Twitter, Facebook, and G+, that an upgrade for many core languages was due. We’re proud to say that we both listened and acted on your suggestions. The following upgrades and improvements are now complete:
- Updated Java version to Java 7
- Updated Python version to 2.6.6 (coming soon: 2.7.5)
- Updated GCC version to 4.6 (coming soon: 4.8)
- Updated .NET version to 4.5
- Coming soon: R 2.15.3
In addition to the specific language upgrades, we’ve also made code submission size, code compilation time, and code execution time all configurable values per contest. Again, we believe these enhancements will help our community members create even more expressive code and we’re excited to see our members take full advantage of these upgrades. We have also added country restriction checking as part of the registration process to simplify that path for new registrants.
We can never mention enough our gratitude to our community. You make it all possible and we’re very excited to deliver on these enhancements for you.
As we all know, the Cloud is all about elasticity and on-demand ramp. Bringing strategy and execution around how to use Cloud environments to help a virtual community perform even better for our wide client-base was our task at hand. As part of these new enhancements TopCoder has:
- Added support for VM-based compiler/testers in the cloud. This allows for infinite scaling of Amazon environments and for strategic partnerships such as using IBM SmartCloud for infrastructure.
- Added support for compiler/tester grouping. This allows for multiple Marathon Matches (long-form algorithmic challenges) to run simultaneously, on different architectures and target languages. This is a major advancement for our clients because scheduling of our long-form algorithmic and data challenges would previously have to run sequentially. The ability to run multiple challenges in parallel will shorten overall engagement timelines, helping our clients get to extreme value data outcomes even faster.
- Updated all compiler/testers to run on 64bit hardware, under 64bit OSes
As we said at the top of the post, more cowbell! Over the years we have been amazed by the success of Big Data challenges on the TopCoder Platform. Whether the challenge was focused in agriculture, energy, genetics, bio-computation, machine learning, or robotics, the TopCoder Community members have continually amazed us with their brilliant solutions. Now, due to sincere advancements in the very size of the data sets our community members will be able to access and work in, we anticipate even more value creation from our Big Data challenges. The most recent advancement:
- Increased supported size of test data from 10s of GB to 100s of GB
This enhancement is really important as the TopCoder Platform can now support Big Data sets as the actual inputs. Not parsed data, or isolated data portions – but the whole kaboodle if you will. And we’re not done in the Big Data support space. The market is demanding even more and we’re committed to handling terabytes of data properly inside our competitive platform soon.
We’d like to thank our dedicated community and clients and we hope these advancements to your innovation platform help you succeed like never before. Our commitment to you is simple: We will continuously innovate and improve the TopCoder Platform and in-turn use these enhancements to create new opportunities for both our members and our clients.
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