Meet ACM ICPC 2016 World Finalist Pranet Verma of team “stronglyConnected” from Birla Institute of Technology & Science – Pilani Campus

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Greetings Earthlings! Today we have with us Pranet Verma of team “stronglyConnected” from Birla Institute of Technology & Science – Pilani Campus. Let’s hear how his journey to the ACM ICPC 2016 – 2017 World finals was and was he always strongly connected to programming?

  • Team name: stronglyConnected
  • Team rank: Kolkata regional: #3

Team “stronglyConnected” from Birla Institute of Technology & Science - Pilani Campus

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

A. We were taught C++ in class 8 and 9 as part of the curriculum, and then again in 11th and 12th as the 5th subject.

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

A. Some random senior during first year interactions suggested I have a look at SPOJ when I told him I liked programming in school. This was my first exposure to competitive programming, and I didn’t even look at any other judge for atleast a year( not a very smart thing to do ).

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. Codeforces and Hackerrank are very good for people who are just getting started with competitive programming. Topcoder has really neat tutorials as well (particularly for graphs). SPOJ and CodeChef are great for practicing multiple questions on topics you have recently learnt, as well as for getting exposed to more advanced algorithms.

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. We had had some team practice sessions before the regionals, so our co-ordination was kind of decent. We initially divided the whole problem set among ourselves, to quickly identify the easier questions. Once those were out of the way, we were able to suggest problems to each other based on our strengths.

Q. 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 ;)?

A. Problem solving with friends and teammates really helps you improve as you learn new ways to approach problems. Oh, and a whiteboard. Get a big whiteboard!

Q. Any hacks on how to reach where you are in less time ;)?

A. A lot of my practice has been on SPOJ, often doing pretty lame questions just to get that AC. This time could probably have been utilized better learning new topics, or practicing harder questions from the other online judges.

Q. Do you have any other thoughts as we wrap up?

A. Have fun preparing. Otherwise, you’d be doing it wrong.

“Have fun preparing. Otherwise, you’d be doing it wrong” isn’t that wonderful. We hope you get that message and apply it not only in the field of programming, but in any field you are associated with. We will be back many more wonderful thoughts from these programming geniuses in our future posts. So, keep watching this space. 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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