The Need For A Certification On Data Structures And Algorithms

3 min read

Data Structures and Algorithms (DSA) are at the heart of Computer Science. The subject forms the building blocks of software development and when you understand the building blocks well, you can build anything and have clarity while doing so.

Durable Computer Science

There is a ton of literature available that shows a correlation between having a good grasp of Data Structures and Algorithms and being a good software developer. However, what has not been documented sufficiently is the durability or permanence of the subject. Professor Hari Sahasrabuddhe, in a keynote address at a Workshop on Bringing Computational Thinking to Schools, described DSA as – Durable Computer Science.

Never before had I come across such an apt description. With the fast pace at which technology is progressing, the relevance of every new computer science topic is short-lived. However, this one subject, DSA, has stayed with us, playing a pivotal role for many decades. And it is going to remain so for at least a few more decades or till programming as a subject exists.

The problems of the Indian IT industry

Today, most software product companies in the world interview candidates extensively on the knowledge of this subject and the ability to translate the concepts into code. In the Indian IT industry, there is a huge shortage of professionals who have a command over this subject. In fact, recent studies have corroborated our belief that a vast majority of the engineers in India are unfit for software development jobs, a need that we recognised and took on to fulfil 8 years ago. A lot of it can be attributed to a lack of understanding of the core concepts of DSA. There is very little motivation and awareness to learn and excel in this subject. And, the conventional pedagogy adopted in Engineering colleges does not really help.

As a result, the gap between students from the same engineering stream is widening and that reflects in the kind of opportunities that they get in their careers. This gap increases by an order of magnitude if, say, the institutions of the students are an IIT and a less well-known institute.

To add to that, while the subject is taught in most Engineering Colleges in the country, there is hardly any standard that is being followed in the assessment of skill levels. Hence, though the students get a grade in the subject in every college, there is so much variation in the parameters of assessment, that the software industry or even the institutions of higher education cannot rely upon them.

Therefore, for the industry, it is very hard to normalize across the students of different colleges of the country without conducting their own test. So effectively, every software company has to conduct its own exam. While the big companies are able to do so, the smaller ones have to run after other vendors to conduct the same.

Proposed solution

Collating the above issues, we have come to believe that a Certification in the subject of DSA provided by global experts is a need of the hour, both for the candidates and the industry.

We think it will have the following benefits:

  • Certification helps to assess candidates on their knowledge of the subject – at a level where everyone else is being assessed on the same parameters. It is very useful for them to know where they stand among those outside their institution.
  • It provides the software industry with a certified benchmark and access to the good programmers out there, not just the ones in premier institutions of the country.
  • It provides a level playing ground for every software student and professional. A student from a tier 3 college can now get assessed and certified by the same institution from which a tier 1 college student can. This provides equal access for all the students/professionals in the country to get the right opportunities – and this we believe is the most crucial part.

Certification of Data Structures and Algorithms

In line with the above objectives, we launched a Certification on Data Structures and Algorithms a few years ago. It is conducted in a proctored environment in test-centres across India. The certification is valid for a lifetime in line with the fact that the skill being assessed is Durable.

CodeChef is known for its high standards of assessment through the high quality of problems in our contests that aid in better learning. Over a period of time, our platform’s assessment metrics have gained immense credibility so much so as to make job seekers add these rankings to their resumes and for students to merit admission in MTech programs of a recognised Higher Education Institution.

We hope that this will go a long way in raising awareness about the subject and motivating software developers to take it up seriously. We also hope that this will help the software industry to scout better 

If you are in India and keen to test your knowledge of DSA, it might just be worth giving a shot. If you are a recruiter reading this and want some quality candidates, this might well be a great pool of pre-assessed programmers to look at. Do write to us at ccdsap@codechef.com for any kind of queries or suggestions. 

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