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Not my experience, as long as you're prepared to accept that people may need some prompting, and won't necessarily find the optimal solutions.

Someone who knows the 'trivia' may remember how to implement quicksort without actually being any good.

But someone with even a little bit of understanding and some prodding to not worry about efficiency will be able to come up with some sort of solution, even if bubblesort. If people appear truly petrified, it's easy to give them a chance by breaking down the problem and see if they can reason about it. E.g.whay if you start with a two element array? Then how about 3? How do you generalise that?

Someone with both the trivia and the smarts will give you a good solution and be able to muse about tradeoffs of different implementation methods, pivot selection and the like.

It's usually fairly simple to find out if people understand the solution they offer up and can reason about it, and that's often a lot more important than whether they come up with a great solution.




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