Complete guide to using Python for competitive programming

Complete guide to using Python for competitive programming

One of the most widely used scripting languages is Python. It is its simplicity that makes it a go-to language for beginners. While being flexible and adaptable enough to make it possible for engineers to develop a whole project just using Python. In this article, let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of Python. And is it suitable to use Python in Competitive Programming? Let’s find out.

Python – A beginner-friendly language

Python is popular being the most readable language and the most beloved language of all. Making it one of the top recommended languages for beginners, Python is easy enough for a beginner to start contributing to real projects in no time.

Because of Python’s dynamic nature and smaller syntax, developing projects with Python is fast and easy but its high level of abstraction may cause people to easily overlook some important functions and the underlying mechanics of the snippets used in the same projects. This may lead to developers making highly complex projects without them knowing what consists inside of their own work.

Advantages of Python

  • Better Readability, hence making it easier and faster to pick up the code and understand its functions.
  • Smaller Syntax hence minimum boilerplate code. [Less Amount of repeated statements in code]
  • Dynamically Typed (no fixed data type of a variable) hence variables can store absolutely anything and can even change their data type while running!
  • Supports object-oriented programming hence making it more flexible and reusable.
  • Easier integrations while having tons of built-in features along with support for creating user-defined modules and libraries.

Also, there is another major advantage of Python, not directly applicable to this article but it is worth mentioning the versatility of this language. Anyone can choose between Web Development, App Development, Machine Learning, Game Development, Graphics Design, Embedded Apps Development, and many more.

Disadvantages of Python

  • Python is a high-level language. A language that hides its inner workings and only shows its usage. It may be helpful for beginners to learn how to use the libraries and other special features Python comes with but it makes it all the more necessary to learn how the features are calculating the output. Beginners should learn how much time each function/feature consumes as Python makes easier shortcuts accessible at the fingertips that aren’t necessarily the most effective solutions.
  • Python is slower than compiled languages. Compiled languages like C, C++, and Java are way faster than interpreted languages like Python and Javascript. In some cases, this difference measures out to be in tenfolds of order in units of time.
  • Switching from Python to another language is much more difficult than the reverse.
  • Python also has a downside of high memory consumption. Even though many extra features reduce memory consumption, the reduced memory consumption is still larger than the other compiled languages due to its dynamic type property.
  • Python has a Recursion Limit which makes it harder for solving problems related to Recursion or any type of similar cycles inside the code.

Is Python suitable for Competitive Programming?

This is the main question before learning Python for competitive programming. As pointed out above, it has a lot of pros and cons. But the major factor is how you are using it while solving problems. Due to Python being slower than other compiled languages, many websites have a time multiplier for Python programmers to increase their chances of acceptability of answers. However, other websites which focus on the core competitive spirit (like CodeForces), do not follow this method. Many solutions written with the same logic in Python, as that of the compiled languages, is not acceptable due to the time limit being exceeded.

Python is neither directly recommended for competitive programming, nor restricted. Python has huge advantages in development and except for some core competitive websites, Python is accepted with the same level of enthusiasm as any other language. It is however recommended to also learn a compiled language like C, C++, or Java along with Python to prevent any possibility of an answer not getting accepted due to time limits.

Guide to learning Python for Competitive Programming

  • Learn all the basics of Python’s syntax.
  • Learn the built-in features that Python provides which are faster alternatives for the same use case.
  • Learn the time complexities of all the features provided by Python. There are many cases where improper use of these functions costs a lot of time and memory.
  • Learn important algorithms and mathematical formulae for accomplishing a given task.
  • Practice “Pythonic Coding”. A shorter and more comprehensive way of writing Python codes.
  • Practice using other libraries and modules for a specific function. Some libraries may have faster solutions than the built-ins.


Python is an all-rounder in the field of programming languages. Its being slow is the only true disadvantage. MNCs have started using Python not only for interviews but also for big projects only shows the limitless possibilities of Python. Python for competitive programming is accepted by a lot of websites and contests nowadays and hence making it easily acceptable in competitive platforms.

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