Monday, October 26, 2009

Gennady Korotkevich

Apart from interesting problems and breathtaking competition, the algorithm contests have their own astonishing personalities. Let me introduce the today's hero: Gennady Korotkevich. His name is also spelled Henadzi Karatkevich sometimes.

He is 7th top ranked TopCoder Algorithm contestant. He's won IOI 2009 (got the highest score, not just gold medal which he did several times before that). He's beaten my team (which included another TopCoder ex-target!) at an ICPC-style contest this September. He's topped all Belarusian teams in the Western Quarterfinal for NEERC 2009.

And yet he's only 14. That means he has 2 or 3 more IOIs to go. That also means I have three more TopCoder Open tournaments to fight for before he arrives :)

What feels so good about Gena is that he doesn't seem to lose the rest of his life to programming contest training, at least according to the above interview. He reminds me of myself, but of course on a greater scale. While I'm sure he's training a lot, it's important that becoming a world-class master does not affect the other aspects of his life badly.

Gennady, if you're reading this, I challenge you for a game of soccer or table tennis :)

More generally, I think this example supports the idea that the skillset (or maybe talent? that's probably a question for a separate discussion) that the programming challenges require is unique and is only partially related to CS or mathematical higher education. And seeing how many big companies are valuing that skillset in job interviews, it seems important enough for education of future software engineers to maybe borrow something from the algorithm contests. Another possible direction, of course, is that algorithm contest puzzles were just lucky to get into the limelight, and will just go away (or maybe become a pure sport) at some point when the big companies and universities discover a better way to educate and recognize the future engineers. Somewhat like Formula 1 which is becoming less and less important for the development of normal cars.


  1. Petr, the 2010 will be my first year as a coach in the university for acm icpc teams, but i only use topcoder for train myself and i never saw acm icpc, can you write about your coaching experience? and how to train teams for icpc?

  2. 2Hernan: I don't have much of ICPC coaching experience, as I've been ICPC participant only 4 years ago. But I'll try to write about it.

  3. Гена кмс по настольному теннису, если я не ошибаюсь).

  4. i think if you do a lot posts about training teams in the future you can write a great book about it.

  5. I'm amazing with this history, gena is a very talented programmer, moreover, i feel bad because i have 27 years old and can't solve even easy problems :) anyway hope training try improvement my skills (if my brain will allow me)

  6. Yes, this is Gena)
    It's a very interesting comparison between sport programming and Formula 1. This is almost completely true.
    But, this is only a game, sometimes paid.
    This is very useful for the first time, but then it becomes into writing of templates, typing.
    Maybe something more useful or as useful as sport programming is learning of technologies, protocols, project architecture, databases, different programming languages. It is very interesting. The experience is always useful. In general, the language isn't important. If you can programme/code, if you know programming in general, more abstract than turning to a concrete programming language, than you can write in every language. This is not so difficult, you need only manuals about the language, about its libraries. It takes place only because of ability and the purpose of concrete language. And this is really not difficult because there are many c-like languages, syntax is similar from one lang. to one. So all what you need is to read about new libraries.

    I've started from project development, from languages, technologies, I've worked in team. And only then I've learned very much interesting things about algorithms and speed. And I'm very glad that I was in this wave, and that I'm in this wave. Only here I have found many friends, like-minded people... And this is very interesting, this is amazing. And algorithms are in very close contact with mathematics, with science and discoveries.

    So, now I can't say what is better, but I can say it's interesting and cognitive. Maybe not the sport programming, but the algorithms. The competitions are also useful, but this is only game)

  7. Hi Petr, I am Andy, Technical Recruiter and I would like to get in touch with Gennady. Could you please send me his details or connect us? You can reach me at andreaslein(at)google(dot)com
    Thanks and cheers,