Jun 24, 2014

Who's the best living programmer?

It's an impossible question to answer, obviously, but a fun one to kick around anyway. Who do you think is currently the best programmer in the world today and why?
I vote for Carmack.


"Softdisk, a computer company in Shreveport, Louisiana, hired Carmack to work on Softdisk G-S (an Apple IIGS publication), introducing him to John Romero and other future key members of Id Software such as Adrian Carmack (not related). Later, this team would be placed by Softdisk in charge of a new, but short-lived, bi-monthly game subscription product called Gamer's Edge for the IBM PC (DOS) platform. In 1990, while still at Softdisk, Carmack, Romero, and others created the first of the Commander Keen games, a series which was published by Apogee Software, under the shareware distribution model, from 1991 onwards. Afterwards, Carmack left Softdisk to co-found Id Software.

Carmack has pioneered or popularized the use of many techniques in computer graphics, including "adaptive tile refresh" for Commander Keen, raycasting for Hovertank 3-D, Catacomb 3-D, and Wolfenstein 3-D, binary space partitioning which Doom became the first game to use, surface caching which he invented for Quake, Carmack's Reverse (formally known as z-fail stencil shadows) which he devised for Doom 3, and MegaTexture technology, first used in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Carmack's engines have also been licensed for use in other influential first-person shooters such as Half-Life, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. In 2007, when Carmack was on vacation with his wife, he ended up playing some games on his cellphone, and decided he was going to make a "good" mobile game.[5][6]

On August 7, 2013, Carmack joined Oculus VR as their CTO. On November 22, 2013 he resigned from Id Software to work full-time at Oculus VR.[1][7] Carmack's reason for leaving Id was because ZeniMax Media didn't want to support Oculus Rift.[8]"

As a gamer, I’ve got to add John Carmack, co-founder of Id Software, to the list. It may be easy to forget how far they moved the goalposts, but Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake were revolutionary at the time and have influenced a generation of game designers. Add in his enthusiastic embrace and support of open source software and I think you have a potential winner. He’s not done yet, though - he is currently involved in the Oculus Rift project.


I think Petr Mitrichev has to be a top contender. He has done consistently well at TopCoder competitions, winning a number of annual algorithm tournaments (where he has the highest score of all time), as well as dozens of individual matches. He also won Google Code Jam in 2006 and the Facebook Hacker Cup in 2011 and 2013. Here is a link to his blog on competitive programming: http://petr-mitrichev.blogspot.com/


Linus Torvalds, of Linux fame, is another somewhat obvious choice.

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