Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Facebook Puzzles - Refrigerator Madness

For software engineers, free drinks at a place of employment equates to a certain level of prestige. If a company cares about you enough to always keep the refrigerator fully stocked with caffeinated beverages, then it must be a great place to work. It's sort of silly, considering how bad most soft drinks are for your health. Add that to the fact that most software engineers nary get any semblance of exercise - or even much daylight for that matter - and you have a dangerous combination on your hands.

Nevertheless, free food and drinks, no matter how unhealthy, are always popular staples at hot technology companies. Facebook is no exception, which is why they released a programming puzzle to solicit help for optimizing productivity amongst their soda-drinking, caffeine-slinging engineers.

The Refrigerator Madness puzzle (fridgemadness) is interesting not because it deals with matching engineers with beverages, but rather because it presents the task at hand in the form of a classic mathematical and computer science problem. In fact, this problem has many real world applications, and has been used for things like pairing college students up with internship programs, or paring medical students up with residency programs.