Eh, didn't know whether to put this in general programming, or contests, but see I've made a decision
USACO Training Gateway wrote:
Hal Burch conducted an analysis over spring break of 1999 and made an amazing discovery: there are only 16 types of programming contest problems! Furthermore, the top several comprise almost 80% of the problems seen at the IOI. Here they are:
Recursive Search Techniques
Minimum Spanning Tree
Two-Dimensional Convex Hull
Ad Hoc Problems
The most challenging problems are Combination Problems which involve a loop (combinations, subsets, etc.) around one of the above algorithms - or even a loop of one algorithm with another inside it. These seem extraordinarily tricky to get right, even though conceptually they are ``obvious''.
If you can master solving just 40% of these problem types, you can almost guarantee a silver medal at the IOI. Mastering 80% moves you into the gold range almost for sure. Of course, `mastery' is a tough nut to crack! We'll be supplying a plethora of problems so that you can hone your skills in the quest for international fame.
Would anyone like to contribute any tips/hints/ideas regarding this topic? I'm currently working through some USACO problems whenever I have time...