How did mugurelionut & ACRush became so great at competitive programming?

I just wonder how these both great programmers became so great at programming. How did they started programming, and what makes them so unique.

I see,they write 200-300 lines of codes for challenge problem to get that 1 point. And in all contests they finish in top 5. For me it’s just like OMG :open_mouth:

And how old are both of them?(and how much experience)


@steniom: I am now 31 years old. When I was younger I participated in the IOI (2001) and the ACM ICPC World Finals (2002, 2005) - I got medals in both (silver in IOI and bronze in ACM ICPC World Finals). I also trained many students in Romania throughout the years, which meant that I had to “keep in touch” with all the top competition problems (I solved many problems myself in order to be able to teach the students cool solutions for these problems). I participated in several contests in Romania on a continuous basis, but I (re-)started participating in international online competitions only since June 2012 (Topcoder, Codeforces, Codechef, Hackerrank). The first Codechef long contest that I participated in was OCT12, and since NOV12 the worst rank I got in any Codechef long contest that I participated in was 5 (only in July 2013).

Solving the 9 binary problems in long contests requires both experience and persistence (there were several cases in which I learnt/developed the concepts necessary for solving the hard problems during the 10-day period of the contest - i.e. I didn’t know them before the contest started). But solving the challenge problem requires a specific set of skills which is difficult to quantify. To me it’s a bit like research - I try multiple solutions and I understand what works and what doesn’t; and based on this I understand how to modify the working solutions in order to obtain better scores. However, “squeezing” the best score possible out of the challenge problem under the given constraints is quite difficult. The only other contests which are similar to the challenge problem on Codechef are Topcoder Marathon Matches, but they last for 2 weeks, which is too long for me to focus on a single problem.

As for @ACRush, I think he is 3-4 years younger than I am (he participated in IOI 2004 and got a gold medal there). I also think that he is generally better than me in handling challenge problems, and yet I am currently ranked higher than him [ but probably this won’t last for too long :slight_smile: ]


Just out of curiosity, did some other fellow teachers/researchers guided you while you were training for IOI? To me, besides experience and persistence (I consider myself to be persistent, I just lack time… Joined competitive programming at a bad time in my life apparentely :)) ) it also takes some “natural” skill… I struggle with maths and ad-hoc problems sometimes… And universities usually don’t put much focus on competitive programming here in Portugal, so Codechef and Hackerrank communities are all I have to learn really… I wonder if it will be enough to see some improvements…


@ kuruma same problem is faced by me…

No help from teachers also only few mates (2-3) are on codechef.

I just wanna ask i am 20 years old and i have just started to learn competitive coding…

So, have I started too late? Also can we participate in ICPC after our graduation ?

1 Like

@rishabhprsd7, ICPC stands for International Collegiate Programming Conmpetition. So in order to take part, you have to be enrolled in some program in a college. And, regarding you starting of coding at the age of 20, yes… I do feel that it’s a bit late, but better late than never. If you work really hard for around 2-3 years, you should do pretty well at ICPC, especially if you take part in the Indian regionals…!!!


So can i participate in ICPC at post-graduation level?

@rishabhprsd7 : Yes, you can.

@rishabhprsd7, I started at 21 and I do it for fun and to be amazed by the pros only

1 Like

Thanks @vinitkp

really @kuruma this is really amazing… after participating in some contest i become addicted of codechef…