How did you get to where you are today in the programming world?
Passion and persistence. Also, failures really annoy me and motivate me to try to perform better next time.
What is your best strategy for solving tough marathon problems?
I do "hill climbing" for finding the best approach 🙂 I always have a baseline approach (the one that worked best so far) and I make changes to it, which I keep only if the scores are better. In the 1st part of the contest I make big changes (i.e. I try out various potentially very different strategies), while towards the end I only make small incremental changes (small parameter changes, small extra rules, etc.). I also change the set of tests I use for local evals periodically to make sure I'm not overfitting.
What are you most looking forward to for the TCO Finals?
Meeting again other participants I've met at previous Finals. Beer nights 🙂 Not doing too bad in the Final. Visiting the Southfork Ranch (I used to watch "Dallas" a lot as a kid).
Tell us what achievement you are the most proud of.
This will be my 3rd TCO Final! (and the fact that it required a very improbable combination of events for this to happen doesn't make it any less exciting)
If you wrote your own coder profile, what would it say?
I like to work on novel problems and explore innovative approaches.
Offline, what is your favorite thing to do?
Reading books; playing board games; pub quizzes; swimming; walking in the nature.
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?