Q. CodeChef: When did you start coding and how did you learn?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: I already knew C++ but barely knew any algorithms. In Class XI when preparing for IOITC, found some IOITC notes online and studied from them. But most learning happened at the training camp itself.
Lalit Kundu: That was my 1st semester of CS undergrad program at IIITH. We have a course called Computer Programming in which language C is taught along with assignments at an online judge in which we have to code implementation problems are few algorithms too. Regarding more serious competitive programming, I started doing a little SPOJ in my second semester and then some told be about CodeChef and I tried my hand at few long contests, but I couldn’t do well. So, I read editorials and learned few algorithms that I didn’t know and started practicing more and more Also, in my second semester we had course called Data Structures and Algorithms where most of the DS and Algos are taught and in labs students are made to implement these algos and DS.
Q. CodeChef: Could you name and share your first programming contest experience?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: My first contest was at IOITC. It was the first time I experienced so much pressure.
Lalit Kundu: If I remember correctly, it was a programming contest by IIT Madras. I had recently started practicing and was doing well, so I formed a team of 3 with my batch mates. It was a short contest and we solved 3 out of 8 problems and were ranked in 60s. We were quite close to the best team of the batch(which had experienced members. It was a thrilling and unique experience. I remember Pradeep George Mathias’ team was at the top in that contest.
Q. CodeChef: How often do you code on any given day & weekend?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: I take breaks from coding once in a while. But when practicing, it is around 2 hours a day. Nothing special for weekends.
Lalit Kundu: Earlier in my second year and first half of 3rd year, I used to give much time irrespective of week days or weekends. It used to be around 2-2.5 hours a day on average. Later, I haven’t been much active and rarely do any contests. I get free on weekends when I am not working at my internship, so I do a little competitive programming and solve 1-2 problems.
Q. CodeChef: What was the biggest hurdle on your road to where you are today?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: IOITC Team Selection Tests. If I hadn’t been selected then, perhaps I might have stopped coding.
Lalit Kundu: It was my inability to concentrate and practice more. Also, not managing time properly. I don’t think I have reached somewhere worthy today, but if I would have practiced and persevered more, I could have been a better competitive programmer today.
Q. CodeChef: What do you think biggest mistake competitive programmers make?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: I repeatedly gave contests without learning anything from them. Perhaps, some others made that mistake too.
Lalit Kundu: Not reading editorials after the contest or not up solving the problems after the contest. Using algorithms as a black box.
Q. CodeChef: What programming language do you use and why?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: I use C++ because it has STL and with other languages there is always a problem of whether it will execute within the time limit because they are slow and even upping the maximum execution time sometimes doesn’t fix it.
Lalit Kundu:C++, because I started with C in my first semester and it was pretty easy to shift to C++. Also, I being very lazy, I didn’t want to learn a new language. And C++ is efficient and fast also.
Q. CodeChef: What advice do you have for other competitive programmers?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: For beginners, I would say it is important to not just code but to also learn from one’s mistakes and try to not repeat them. Also, it is at times not pointless to code for a problem again from the scratch to write cleaner code.
Lalit Kundu: Don’t envy or judge and feel inferior to people based on their ratings. Its just a competition and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have failed at life. Life is much more than competitive programming contests and ratings.
Q. CodeChef: What do you like the most about CodeChef? and what would you don’t like in it?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: The CodeChef rating system is a bit weird. But otherwise, the Long Contest are really what is special about CodeChef.
Lalit Kundu: What I like: Long contests and detailed editorials. What I don’t like: How servers go down tumbling each short contest.
Q. CodeChef: What factors do you believe help you win?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: Luck?
Lalit Kundu: My ability to work as team with my team members. Also, when working individually, I think confidence to solve problems is important.
Q. CodeChef: What motivates you to compete?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: I really enjoy solving a specific type of problems. But they don’t appear very often, so meh.
Lalit Kundu: The thrill of a green tick. The thrill of being on a leaderboard. Also, the thrill of getting goodies.
Q. CodeChef: Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
Nikhil Tadigoppula: The standard route. Working for some software company. Unless something nice happens to me.
Lalit Kundu: Working at a software company as a software engineer. Or probably preparing for CAT. Or probably doing PhD. I don’t clearly know yet.
That, ladies & gentlemen is Team bandb to you. We thoroughly enjoyed their responses and hope you did too.
We will be back soon, so keep watching this space.