The results have been carefully tabulated by a computer and, thus, are beyond dispute: Of the 48 best computer programmers in the world, only four of them are Americans. But what that bit of data says about the state of the U.S. education system is open to debate. Back in February, I wrote about a computer-programming competition run by an outfit called TopCoder. That event was part of the run-up to the global finals held last week in Las Vegas. If you have trouble putting “computer programming” and “spectator sport” in the same sentence, you haven’t been to one of these contests. From the gasps, moans and cheers as the audience watched the scoreboard tracking the contestants, you’d have thought you were at a World Cup match.
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