2006 - ITA Puzzles
Somewhere a few months back, Andrew (no longer at Orbitz, now at Amazon) tipped me off to the puzzles at the ITA software prospective employee page. One in particular struck my fancy, which was a problem that required generating a program to discover a Palindromic Pangram (or a palindrome that uses all 26 letters of the alphabet) For those who don't know what a palindrome is, it' a word that, when halved, reflects itself, or reads the same backwards and forwards. Otto backwards spells Otto!
ITA provided a 1.6 mb dictionary of valid words (a txt file with a word per line), and using this you must come up with any solution that meets the given criteria (uses all letters of the alphabet). Needless to say, the end result need not make any coherent sense. It took several hours of stops and starts and pondering the best possible paths, but eventually I ended up with a suitable solution. It wasn't highly optimized and the phrase was not the shortest possible, but I stopped after the initial winning configuration. Only downside is, I managed to loose the code to my solution in WS upgrade at work somewhere, possibly when I purged my non-work related folders. Oh well, I remember my basic algorithms, and if anyone is interested, I'd love to discuss possible solutions.