How long have you been engaged in programming? How did you start?
When I had grasped the fundamentals, I started coding. First I wrote programs just for mastering the language and then went on with the ones closer to real life problems. During the first year of my self-education I tried to write small games - mathematical and arcades mainly. Later I wrote editors, image viewers, and code-helping utilities. (My own 3-D shooter game I left unfinished.)
I participated in my very first programming challenge in the sixth form. It was the Saint-Petersburg School Olympiad where I got the last but one of the third category certificates for solving several problems. By that time I had been already attending a special programming group for kids. At such circles children had an opportunity to study Logo, Pascal, C, Basic and learn how to solve algorithm problems. Thus by the time when I started taking part in real programming challenges, I'd already had some programming skill.
Did you like solving algorithm problems? Did you practice a lot?
After the next challenge -- the City School Olympiad again -- I started to train seriously.
I used Pascal for solving challenge problems. It was very popular among us. I could write in C or C++ but didn't know them that well at the time.
Tell us a little about your contest-solver career start.
How was the "Burunduchki" team built? And why "Burunduchki"?
For that year's Petrozavodsk Training Camp we had to think of our team registration name. Sergey offered "Burunduchki" and we all accepted it. So Sergey is now Burunduk1, and I am Burunduk2.
We picked up our third member, Oleg Davidov (Burunduk3), after the All-Russia Olympiad in Novosibirsk in 2005. The Summer Petrozavodsk Training Camp was the first event in which all three of us took part.
How did you get involved in TopCoder?
It was in February 2006 when we decided to solve TopCoder challenges ourselves. We didn't compete right after registration and started only in March. We kept our "Burunduchki" nicknames for TC as well. So now I'm known as Burunduk2.
What do you like the most about Single Round Match rules?
But, in fact, I do not use Challenge Phase opportunities very often. This is probably because my challenging skills are not very good. I'm going to improve it. I see that it can be very useful.
Moreover I like that people from the whole world come to compete. International challenges are always wonderful.
Have you ever tried any other type of competitions at TopCoder in addition to Algorithm?
What kind of problems do you like to write or solve most of all?
I like problems that require data type manipulations. But unfortunately they are not frequently found at TopCoder.
Actually the type of a problem doesn't matter. I tend getting pleasure from each contest.
What do you consider the main incentive for competing in algorithm challenges?
And this is good training for the brain.
Does practicing take a lot of time? Don't you have any problems at school because of it?
Are you planning to continue programming in the future?
Have you already chosen a university?
What are your other interests?
Tell us about your impressions of the TCHS tournament.
I'd like to thank the problem writers for short and clear statements. And special thanks for the dynamic programming problems. They don't come easy to many people and I can say I like them.
As for the challenge itself I should say that the Coding Phase was very exciting. I successfully did the Easy but bugged in the Medium. Later I resubmitted it for fewer points. At that moment all my hopes were for the Hard. I submitted my first solution for about 900 points (just for high points, hoping for the best and without any checking). After some fixes I resubmitted the Hard. I thought I'd take one of the last places. During the Challenge Phase I realized that AnonnymousT's solution would fail. My own challenge hunting appeared to be unprofitable.
Among the informal events I remembered a cool fountain. I even freshened up in it a little!
What did you feel when realized that you are a winner?
How are you going to use your prize?
What do you think is the main key for success?
Can you give a piece of advice on how to succeed in a contest?