28th International Olympiad in Informatics

Friday, August 12 - Friday, August 19, 2016

18 August 2016
Singapore: “Programming is like a jigsaw puzzle”

Surely everyone has noticed the team from Singapore by now: intelligent, polite, considerate people, constantly engaged in interesting conversation. How could you miss them? Jacob, Guangxuan, Wen Yuen and Clarence tell us about the Olympiad, Russia, and IT.

- What can you tell us about the Olympiad?

Jacob: Everything went well, although there were a few issues with the tasks.

Guangxuan: This Olympiad was difficult. The Russian and Chinese teams performed well, but I was surprised by how short and simple some of the answers were.

- People are saying that the Kazan Olympiad has been more difficult than previous ones. Is that true?

Jacob: The practice round was fine, but when we started to tackle the main competition we encountered some difficulties.

- How many Olympiads have you taken part in, before this one?

Clarence: For Guangxuan and me it’s the first time, but for Jacob and Wen Yuen it’s the second.

- Some come to events like this to meet new people; others to gain experience. What have you come for?

Jacob: For me the result is very important, but I’ve also found it very interesting to learn about Russian culture and gather experience of participating in an IOI.

Clarence: The main thing is to get experience, but I’ve also really enjoyed Tatar culture, especially the pies and music, and I simply loved the Sabantui festival.

Wen Yuen: Jacob and I both came for results.

Guangxuan: I came here for experience, and I was interested to see whether I could perform to the best of my abilities in a stressful situation.

- How did you prepare for the rounds?

Jacob: We’ve already been to an IOI and know more or less what the tasks will be like. They were similar, so it was simple enough to solve the tasks using experience from previous Olympiads.

- Did your teachers help prepare you, or did you go to a special school?

Wen Yuen: Our team’s guest, Wen Liang, is our teacher. He helps us.

Guangxuan: He took part in the Olympiad four years ago, and now he’s a trainer. In addition to the IOI we also participate in the Google Code Jam – it’s a big online arena where anyone can battle against each other.

- Why did you decide to take up IT?

Wen Yuen: At middle school I fell in with a group of IT enthusiasts, and I felt really at home.

Guangxuan: Clarence, Jacob and I have taken part in mathematics olympiads since primary school, but once we tried IT, we knew it was for us. Many of the tasks are similar to each other, but then I enjoy finding solutions.

Jacob: Programming is like a jigsaw puzzle: you have to think through a certain algorithm for the tasks and use it while writing a program.

Clarence: I started later than everyone else in the team. I also find the solution process interesting.

- What applications does informatics have in real life?

Jacob: The process of programming is really captivating, but not especially useful in real life. We only use coding and task-solving at school and at olympiads; you could say that informatics helps encourage logical and analytical though, but nothing more.

- Do you see your futures connected with IT?

Wen Yuen: I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into studying IT. I plan to go to a university specialising in information technologies, and I think that IT is really useful for finding a career and for life in general.

Guangxuan: I haven’t yet decided whether my future profession will be connected with IT. I’d like it to, but I’m not sure I have the advantage over other programmers. I can code quickly, but my future’s still undecided.

Clarence: Perhaps my future will involve IT.

Jacob: I don’t see my future in the IT industry – I feel that what we do at the Olympiads is quite far removed from real programming and IT.

- So what would you like to do in the future?

Jacob: I’d like to go into medicine.

- Why medicine?

Jacob: I like science, and I think medicine will help me in life.

- Is there any crossover between the medical and IT industries?

Jacob: There is, but I’m still not sure whether I want to or if I’m able.

- Singapore is famous for its education. Once you finish school, do you think you will stay in your country or go somewhere else?

Jacob: If I carry on with IT then I’ll go to the USA; if I choose medicine then most likely I’ll stay in Singapore.

Wen Yuen: It’s better to study abroad somewhere, as education is a bit better there than in Singapore. But if the fees are really high and there’s no stipend, then I’ll probably stay in my home country.

Guangxuan: I agree with Wen Yuen – I’m in a similar situation.

Clarence: I want to stay and study in Singapore.

- Do you know anything about the Russian education system or about Kazan Federal University?

Jacob: I haven’t heard much about the education system here, but I like Kazan University’s campus.

- There were lots of different entertainment and excursion programmes to help introduce newcomers to the local culture. What caught your eye the most?

Guangxuan: I really liked the Sabantui festival and how fun and well-organised it was. There were lots of fun contests – I especially enjoyed the pillow-fighting and chin-up bar. I discovered some of Russian and Tatar culture, and I really liked that.

Wen Yuen: I really liked the trip to the Kremlin – it was very beautiful.

Jacob: I enjoyed Sabantui, especially because we could take part and learn about the culture from within. The best part was the pillow-fight!

- What souvenirs of Kazan are you planning to take back?

Together: A matrioshka!

Guangxuan: I’d like to get some Russian chocolate and some chak-chak for my friends as a souvenir.

- How did you find the organisation at the Olympiad?

Together: Top class. The food was really good. We think this Olympiad was organised better than some of the previous ones.

- Do you have any mascots or good-luck charms?

Jacob: I have a mascot which my sister gave me before I left to come here. It’s a plush toy dog.

Wen Yuen: I have a rubber duck which my trainer gave me last year before the Olympiad.

Guangxuan: I don’t have anything in particular – in my opinion for a good performance you just need to train hard.

Clarence: For me, good sleep and healthy food is the recipe for success.



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