Have you ever needed a challenge to guide your programming pursuits? Even if you aren’t very interested in programming, working Project Euler problems can be incredibly fun and challenging.

What is Project Euler? Project Euler is a website that provides mathematical problems, but the vast majority of the problems require more than just mathematical knowledge to solve – a strong programming ability will aid you greatly on your journey. Here is the first problem from the website:

If we list all the natural numbers below 10 that are multiples of 3 or 5, we get 3, 5, 6 and 9. The sum of these multiples is 23.

Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000.

This particular problem is fairly easy – even inefficient programs can arrive at the solution under the “one minute rule.” However, as you advance through problems, contriving ways of eliminating unnecessary steps becomes increasingly important.

Project Euler has helped me become a better programmer and mathematician. Researching the concepts behind the problems (i.e. triangular numbers, prime number algorithms, Pythagorean triplets etc.) has broadened my knowledge base, while solving difficult problems trains my mind to look for patterns in numbers and conditions. Project Euler places meaning behind the math you learn in school. (While teaching some math you don’t learn in school!)

How do you get started? First, create an account on the Project Euler website – it’s free, quick, and easy. Next, find a problem on the problems page that looks interesting, and commence work. If you get stuck, don’t worry – some persistence will get you to the right answer eventually!