Solve Interactive Problems in Rust

specifically for Competitive Programming in Rust

Introduction to Interactive problems

In competitive programming contests, there can be a special type of problem called Interactive Problem. In these problems, the input is not predetermined. Rather, it is generated based on the queries. Basically, your program "sends" the "queries" and the Online judge "answers" these queries, based on which, your program generates the final answer.

And, queries are limited, off course, else the problems will be too easy.

See Basic interactive problem on CodeChef as an example.

The flush Issue

Actually, the output to terminal is an expensive process for any programming language. If there are no buffers, each character will be shown as soon as output is generated. It will block the rest of the program thread for the time being, resulting in much slow execution of program. So, most of the modern programming languages make use of Buffer to store the output, and print the output later, block by block.

But in the interactive problems, this is a major issue, because online judge will keep waiting indefinitely for the output, as it is stored in Buffer, and thus, no output will be generated, and the program keeps waiting for the output from online judge. This will result in deadlock situation, and will result in Time Limit Exceeded ( TLE ) verdict in most of the cases.

So, we have to print the contents of the buffer. This is called flushing. Formally,
A buffer flush is the transfer of computer data from a temporary storage area to the computer’s permanent memory

flush in Rust

From Rust Documentation,

... stdout is frequently line-buffered by default ...

So, if you use println!(), your output will automatically be printed as soon as you call it.

Actually there are mainly 2 macros in Rust used for output, println!() and print!().

As you might already know, the println!() macro ends with newline whereas the print!() does not. So, after each println!() statement, the buffer should automatically be cleared and output should be shown. But if you are using print!() statement, you must flush the output after each output statement.

For explicitly flushing the output, you first have to import using

use std::io::{self, Write};

And then, use


to flush.

Demonstrating Buffer

For demonstrating the buffer, we make a simple program. In this, we first use println!() , to show that it immediately flushes the output after each call.

Then we add some print!() statements and sleep statements, so that we wait some time. As the output is stored in buffer, it is not printed till we flush the output.

use std::{thread, time};
use std::io::{self, Write};
fn main() {
// Define one_second as 1 second of time
let one_second = time::Duration::from_secs(1);
// println!() output will be flushed immediately
println!("This is using println");
// Now, demonstrating buffered output
// This is stored in buffer
print!("This ");
// This basically sleeps for 1 second
print!("is ");
print!("not ");
print!("flushed ");
print!("\nFlushed now.....");
// Flushing output
print!("\nHence ");
print!("the ");
print!("buffer ");
print!("contains ");
print!("the string ");


This is using println
This is not flushed yet.
Flushed now.....
Hence the buffer contains the string

Note : In this article, the timing of each output line matters more than the actual output. So, run it yourself!


In competitive programming contests, Interactive Problems might be seen quite often. We discussed the problem with buffers and online judge in such problems as well as flushing the buffer in Rust.

Now, with the given knowledge, try to submit the CodeChef problem given on the top of the page.

Thank You