Meet ACM ICPC 2016 World Finalist Abhilash Kumar of Team “FacelessMen” from Indian Institute of Technology – Kanpur

1 min read

A new day, a new team! Team “FacelessMen” from Indian Institute of Technology – Kanpur. We have one of the three FacelessMen, Abhilash Kumar, who will be representing IIT Kanpur, at the ACM ICPC World Finals 2016. Let’s enjoy his journey.

  • Team name: FacelessMen
  • Team rank: Kolkata regional: #1

Team “FacelessMen” of Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur

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

A. I started programming in my freshman year at IIT Kanpur. Prior to that, I had no programming experience as such.

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

A. In my school days, I really liked solving mathematical challenges but had no knowledge of computer programming. When I learnt computer programming during my introductory programming course I found it very fascinating. It felt amazing that now I can code solutions for mathematical challenges and run them on various cases to get the results. Back then, I had no concept of algorithms but I felt pleasure in solving little mathematical challenges and slowly I moved into competitive programming.

Q. 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.

A. Ideally one should first learn computer programming, any introductory course would suffice. Then, (s)he should start learning algorithms and data structures. There are many books, online courses, blogs and web materials available. After that (s)he should start participating in online programming competitions on websites like CodeChef, Codeforces and Topcoder. Try solving problems in increasing level of difficulty. For example, first try to solve Codeforces div 2 A problems, and when you feel confident enough that you can solve most of the div 2 A problems then move on to div 2 B problems and so on. Understanding the editorials is most important, irrespective whether you could solve that problem or not. Also, it helps to check out codes of top programmers to learn tricks on how to code faster and elegantly. Anyone can excel in competitive coding if (s)he keeps practicing and remains excited about it.

Q. 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.

A. I tried participating in as many live contest as possible. I read blogs on topics in which I was uncomfortable. I tried my best to remain motivated for ACM­ICPC even after failing miserably for two consecutive years. I used to look at code of top coders to learn and understand how they think. In my opinion anyone can do good at competitive programming if (s)he keeps practicing even after failing and there are no shortcuts to it.

We hope you enjoyed the interview. We have few more in the pipeline and will be publishing them soon. Till then, share this interview among your friends, and family and send in your wishes and questions for them. #GoForGold.

Regards,
Rudreshwar
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