These countries have the world's most talented programmers

The recipe to win gold in programming Olympics

Gabriela Motroc

Man is watching sports games on TV image via Shutterstock

There’s a famous saying by Roman philosopher Seneca which goes like this: “It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” This quote transcends time and industry and proves that countries such as the United States and India, famous for their huge number of programmers, are lagging behind in terms of quality. Curious to see which countries would take home the gold, silver and bronze medals?

The Olympic Games may be over, but it’s time to congratulate a different type of athletes. HackerRank, the website which focuses on competitive programming challenges and helps companies discover and evaluate talented engineers, analyzed the results of 1.4 million programming challenges and concluded that the world’s most talented developers are in China and Russia.

Although it’s common knowledge that the United States and India have the biggest number of programmers, talent lies elsewhere. Chinese programmers are better than all other nations in math, functional programming and data structures challenges, while Russia puts all the other countries to shame in algorithms, which happens to be the most popular, yet competitive field.

Algorithms dominate the programming Olympics

According to HackerRank’s findings, almost 40 percent of programmers compete in algorithms challenges, followed by Java with less than 10 percent. Programmers are also interested in data structures and C++ challenges, but they seem to ignore distributed systems and security challenges.

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HackerRank concluded that the reason why algorithms rank so high could be that for these tests, programmers are free to use whichever language they choose. Plus, “algorithms are also crucial for coding interviews, so it could explain why more coders would practice algorithm challenges,” HackerRank’s Ritika Trikha stated. 

SEE ALSO: Bug bounty is a bountiful business

They analyzed each country’s average score across all domains and standardized the scores for each domain before pinpointing the average. This is how they discovered that China has the most talented programmers, followed by Russia and Poland.

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However, it is worth noting that even though Chinese programmers are the best (score of 100), Russia had a score of 99.9 and Poland scored 98.0. Although the average score across all challenges shows that China is the country which breeds the world’s best programmers, Russians dominate the algorithms list and Polish programmers are the best at Java. China is the best at data structures, mathematics and functional programming.



As The Washington Post pointed out, if we look at other contests such as International Olympiad in Informatics and even Google Code Jam, HackerRank’s findings do add up. China occupied the first two positions at this year’s International Olympiad in Informatics and Russia ranked third and fourth. As far as the Google Code Jam is concerned, China and Russia are in the top three best countries.

One of the most interesting findings was the preference for Java challenges. Here are the results.



Switzerland is the most fascinating country in terms of tenaciousness; it has the lowest percentage of nil scoring users. At the opposite pole lies Pakistan, where programmers are not afraid to gives up on a challenge before making any progress.

Read here the entire study.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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