How did you get to where you are today at Topcoder?
I started serious competitive programming in 2003, advancing to algorithm finals of TCO 2004 and TCCC 2005. Later I moved from participating to organizing contests as a judge and problem setter. That is how I won my trip to TCO 2018 finals: by writing problems.
What is your best strategy for tackling a project or challenge?
It depends on a scale: for competitions I try to focus and give my best. For longer projects the hardest part is to begin, but usually a good plan makes it easier to jump into the flow.
How do you keep up with current trends and advances in this field?
If by "this field" we understand competitive programming, then as a problem setter I read tasks from ongoing contests and follow discussions on Codeforces and blogs of other problem authors.
What are you most looking forward to for the TCO Finals?
Meeting all the people.
Tell us what achievement you are the most proud of.
As a problem setter, it would be coming up with a linear-time solution to a "Coins in a Row" problem. My more recent non-programming achievements were finishing a marathon race in 2017 and 1/4-Ironman-style triathlon in mountainous terrain this year.
If you wrote your own developer profile, what would it say?
My profile used to say "DP is the key". I really like dynamic programming problems.
Offline, what is your favorite thing to do?
Playing catchy tunes on the piano.
We asked the Finalists to use emojis in response to the following questions.
How do you feel about the TCO18 Finals?
How do you feel when you win a Topcoder challenge?
What is your spirit animal?
What's the weather like at your house right now?
What are your hobbies?