Ever wonder what allows certain TC members to solve 3 hard problems in under an hour, while others struggle to submit a single solution? This question has both fascinated and puzzled me for some time.
Since his first competition 2 years ago, tomek has consistently dominated in the arena. Perhaps most impressive is his stellar tournament record. Seemingly unfazed by the high stakes, tomek always competes at a practically unbeatable level. What allows him to win so frequently under any and all circumstances? What are the secrets behind tomek's skill?
Natural Born Competitor
As early as elementary school tomek was participating in math competitions. These opened the doorway to Polish science camps, and eventually the opportunity to study abroad in England. In high school, at the Polish Olympiad in Informatics, tomek began to show interest in the theory of algorithms. Years later, during ACM challenge training, he was able to hone these skills and help his team win at the World Finals. If it hasn't become clear already, tomek loves to compete. Through this passion, he has had many achievements, and reached a level attained by few.
I have spoken to many people about their careers, academics, hobbies, and lives in general. Frequently their eyes light up while describing the projects they work on, or the goals they have set for themselves. Too often these aspirations are pushed aside and forgotten. Most amazing is to later see someone who conscientiously followed their pursuits, since they typically bear no resemblance to their former self.
Brett: Suppose someone paid you to be their personal coach. They come to you every day for advice. What is your plan?University Highlights
tomek: I guess I would try to figure out what they like doing (like competitions for me). Then tell them to be really good at it, and hope that then they can make living out of it.
Discussing university courses, tomek and I agreed that professor quality is frequently more important than subject matter. At the University of Warsaw, Krzysztof Diks and Marcin Kubica were two of his favorite lecturers. When asked which courses he liked best, tomek replied with the following lists:
Our school conversation finished with a discussion about great books. tomek said the following resources proved most useful for TopCoder.
Preparation only gets you so far. Once the competition begins, your skills are put to the test. Here are some tips from the master competitor:
Will carefully following all of the steps listed here make you tomek? Probably not, but they could make you much better. And who knows? Take a little motivation, combine it with some focussed training, and maybe you will make a name for yourself in the arena. People might start asking you for advice on how to improve. Perhaps there will be an article with your name on it.