Attempt problems, get blocked, search, ask, read, learn and apply. Follow it like a recipe – Kunal Singhal, ACM ICPC World Finalist 2015-16.

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The second in the series of #ICPC Indian finalist interviews comes from Kunal Singhal (a.k.a. knsn) from IIT Delhi. Here is a brief about his ICPC profile followed by the interview.

  • Team name: Angle
  • Team rank:
    • Amritapuri regional: #1
    • Chennai regional: NA
    • Kolkata regional: NA

How old were you when you started programming and what got you started in programming?

I think, I started coding in c++ in class 9. My motivation was to compete in inter-school competitions happening all over Delhi. We did win some of those contests. But I really got introduced to competitive programming when I gave INOI in my 12th grade and cleared it. And then, I learnt systematically in the IOI Training Camp. I learnt almost all the algorithms there.

What inspired you to get into competitive programming? Were you passionate about it since school or anything special in college?

I always loved mathematics and was part of Robotics club in my school. But programming robots was not challenging enough, so I dived into competitive programming given the first chance.

How to start preparing for ACM ICPC for those who are new to algorithms and competitive programming? It would be great if you could share your journey from a beginner to a World Finalist today.

One simple advice. Practice, Learn as you do. Do not read theory first. Attempt problems, get blocked, search, ask, read, learn and apply. Follow it like a recipe.

Can you throw some light on how did you and your team manage the time and coordinate during the onsite finals? It would be great if you could share some tips for the next year ICPC aspirants.

Our time management at onsite was quite ad-hoc so not much to say. A good chemistry is needed though. So, make sure that your teammates are also your friends.

What did you do to improve over these years and maintain your target status for all these years with all the competition? What do you think was your most effective method to improve? Any hacks on how to reach where you are in less time ;)?

No hacks, genuine curiosity and perseverance is the key.

Hope you enjoyed the interview 🙂 We are coming up with more, stay tuned!

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