Introducing the Python Bee!

Posted by Jacob Hurwitz on July 02, 2013

Imagine coding blind, under time pressure, in front of a large audience. Is this a nightmare? No! It’s a Python bee.

A Python bee is like a spelling bee for programmers. But instead of spelling words, contestants are given functions to write, one character at a time. A simple Python bee question might be: "Write a function that, given two integers, returns their sum." The goal is to spell out a Python function: "d–e–f–"... and so on.

Players must spell valid Python and every character counts, including symbols and whitespace. And the biggest twist: it’s all done in teams of two. Partners sit back-to-back and alternate characters, unable to signal or communicate about their solution.

Credit for this creative idea goes to a group of MIT students who, in 2009, entered the Python bee into a competition for "bad ideas." Since then, the bee has become a tradition at MIT and has spread to other institutions, including Dropbox.

We’ve run Python bees at our past two Hack Weeks, and decided it’s time to take our bee to the next level: DBX.

We’ll be hosting a Python Bee for all of the developers attending our DBX conference next week!

For all you DBX attendees who want to participate, look for signs for the Python Bee when you arrive on July 9—there will be information on how to enter the qualifying round. Just grab a partner and use your laptop or mobile device to enter.

The top ten developers (five teams) from the qualifying round will be invited to participate in the DBX Python Bee Finals on the big stage.

Sound exciting? Here's what Dropbox's Guido van Rossum has to say:

"""A Python bee! What a wonderful idea to test your wizard-level knowledge of programming in Python. I'm looking forward to watching the champions battle -- though I don't think I'm crazy enough to compete myself. :-)"""

Whether you want to battle it out or just sit back and watch, the Python Bee is sure to be a blast! Are you up for the challenge?