Interview With Algorithm Bye Winner – Gassa

By in Community Stories April 26, 2018

Algorithm Bye winners were announced recently. Those are top-rated Topcoder SRM participants. We interviewed Gassa – a bye winner, active member since 2006.

Introduce yourself.
My name is Ivan Kazmenko. I teach algorithms to high school and university students, and help prepare various programming contests, notably Saint-Petersburg State University Championships and Petrozavodsk training camps.

What are your feelings after getting a problem correct?
“Fine! Let’s move on to the next one.” More often than not, I submit a solution after I’m fairly sure it works, so getting a positive outcome feels like just an acknowledgement. It’s the solving process itself that is exciting.

What does it take to be among top-250 Topcoder members?
Education and persistence.

What are your plans for the future? Say, 5 years.
Learn algorithms, teach what I learned, prepare programming contests… just more of what I’ve been doing.

How do relatives and friends react to competitive programming?
Enthusiastic and supportive. In fact, my wife Natalya is a competitive programmer herself (handle: naagi).

Do you have a hobby? If yes, what do you do?
I was a computer gamer once… but nowadays, it’s mostly competitive programming as a contestant.

What is the best place in your city one should definitely visit?
St. Petersburg is so full of beautiful places! Just walk in the city center, something will catch your eye very soon.

How do you feel after defeat? When were you last defeated? How to persist and train after a huge defeat?
I constantly fail to solve the contests’ harder problems. And by the time I learned how to solve them, they are not hard problems anymore. I’ve come to terms with it. My goal is to continue my work, and it gives me motivation to learn.

Do you have any suggestions for Topcoder?
One is to actually act on the algorithm community’s feedback. If that ever happens, well, I’d start with reinstating 4 SRMs per month, that would give other issues a kick.