Russia, China Top Worldwide Developer Rankings

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Developer Environment

Have you ever wondered where the best coders on Earth come from? Is it a country, or a particular school? A new study from HackerRank gives us much deeper insight on the topic, and may even shed light on why we keep getting hacked by foreign entities.

A recent ‘University Rankings Competition’ held by HackerRank saw over 5,500 students from 126 worldwide universities compete. Each school had to have at least 10 participants to be ranked on the list; in an attempt to balance the leaderboard, the contest-runners adjusted high scores versus the number of participants from each school on the list.

The best coders in the competition came from ITMO University in Russia, with China’s Sun Yat-sen Memorial Middle School a close second. Third place went to Ho Chi Minh City University of Science in Vietnam, while UC Berkley finished in fourth position. Waterloo University in Canada rounded out the top five.

Of the top 50 schools on the list, the United States had eight slots. India dominated the list with 16 schools. Russia had two schools in the top 50, while China had one. Many other countries, such as Canada and Romania, had two to four schools on the list.

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Domestically, UC Berkley took top honors, with Georgia Institute of Technology coming in second. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took third place, with Ohio State University and the University of Texas at Austin rounding out the top five.

Oddly, notable tech schools like MIT and Stanford didn’t rank; that could be a poor showing, or students from those schools just didn’t participate in the competition. The U.S. News and World Report ranks those two schools among the best in the nation for Computer Science, but HackerRank is quick to point out its competition is a measure of students’ actual ability, not the curriculum.

And if you’ve been wondering why a Chinese middle school is ranked so highly, HackerRank has an explanation:

San Yat-sun Memorial Middle School (which in the US equates to high school level of education), placed 2nd, above UC Berkeley and IIT. One Chinese blog mentions that the school is actually bigger than most universities in China, and includes a science museum.

There’s a lot to unpack with competitions like this. The lack of U.S. schools (particularly well known and respected universities) could be due to the lack of skill (doubtful), or indicative of HackerRank’s popularity among U.S. students. Still, it’s an interesting glimpse at coding ability worldwide; we hope this competition grows over time and becomes a better benchmark with added participation.

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