An interview with billsedison

Read about our TCO17 Finalists.
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How has Topcoder changed your life?

Topcoder has been a big part of my daily life. 8 years ago, when I was still a third-year college student, I came to Topcoder for practicing algorithms. Now I have graduated as a Ph.D. two years ago and revisited Topcoder to learn new skills, earn money, and know new friends. I got a lot from the Topcoder community and am always appreciating for it.

Now I'm still a competitor in Topcoder. I hope sometime later, I could have an opportunity to become a reviewer and even a copilot. By then, not only I could have a different experience but also contribute my efforts to the community in the other way.

Outside of Topcoder, I have a regular job as a mobile game developer, so sometimes I may be too busy to participate in challenges. But I'm always trying to balance my time and keep active in Topcoder.

Do you have a favorite Topcoder customer or project? If so, which customer or project?

All projects and customers are great. But the most impressive projects for me are the Hercules Series and the John Hancock Vitality Game Series.

I got the first place in Stage 3 and won the opportunity to become a finalist. Most challenges I won in this stage are in the Hercules Series. I mainly participated in the four sub-series: Hercules React Native to PxScene, Hercules React Native To XRE, Hercules Javascript XRE Receiver, Hercules Fog Recorder, which composes to a large project (especially the former three). It's very challengeable but interesting to participate in all parts of a large project. Most importantly, I won the trip to the US.

I won all challenges in the John Hancock Vitality Games (except for the backend). It is really exciting to see the game growing up gradually by my dual hands. Now I'm looking forward to downloading it in the App Store.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you within the Topcoder community?

I won a lot of challenges and got a good score was the funniest thing until now. But I believe visiting TCO17 will be the funniest thing in the near future.

Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.

For some reason, I missed the majority of challenges in Stage 1 & 2, so I planned to win the trip in Stage 3, and finally, I reached my goal. I participated in 8 challenges in March and 9 challenges in April, I won prizes from almost all of them (except for two challenges) and won TCO points for all TCO-eligible challenges. Finally, I got 14,935 points in Stage 3 and left a large gap to the second place even though I was busy with my regular job and had not enough time to compete in May. I've never believed I could take such good balance for my regular job and Topcoder challenges, I'm very proud of my achievement.

Besides, even though I participated in Topcoder many years ago, I only noticed the TCO in August of last year, and the Bonus stage of TCO16 was the last chance for me to win a trip. However, I only got rank 2 in the Bonus stage and lost the trip, which was a real pity for me. Thankfully, I won the trip this year. I'm proud that there will never be a pity again!

Best music album to code to?

I like listening piano solo music when I am coding, the From The Yellow Room (authored by the pianist YIRUMA) and Shanghai Dream (authored by the pianist Tian Jiang) are my most favorite music albums.

Who is your favorite copilot and why (and you can't pick yourself!)?

It is difficult for me to choose among Ghostar, Callmekatootie and seeef. They took a good balance between the scope and prize and usually answered questions in the forum quickly.

How did you get into programming?

13 years ago, I learned my first programming language Pascal in High School. The original aim of learning programming was to participate in competitive algorithm programming contests (like ACM-ICPC or Topcoder Algorithm contest). But unfortunately, I didn't do well. But this experience aroused my interest in programming. Then I chose Computer Science as a major at my college and studied in the field of Electrical Engineering for my Ph.D. degree, which are both programming related.

Now I am a professional mobile game programmer at a large company of China and happy to be an active competitor in the Topcoder community. I will continue walking on the programming road and hope to try different fields like machine learning, distributed computing, virtual reality etc.

Which IDE do you use and why?

I usually use Intellij-series IDE (Pycharm for Python, Webstorm for HTML/Javascript/CSS) because I like their flexibility of plugins, great working with version control system (like git and svn), and most importantly, I have been familiar with their shortcuts.

But for the small scale of code, I prefer to use sublime and VIM since they are really lightweight and fast.

What books do you recommend?

Currency Wars (authored by a Chinese economist Song Hongbing). You could learn a lot of basic concepts of economics and get wonderful stories about the financial history. But I don't believe all the contents are true. However, I like the story so I recommend it as a fascinating novel.

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces

We asked the Finalists to use emojis in response to the following questions.

How do you feel about the TCO17 Finals?

πŸ™ƒπŸ™‚β˜ΊπŸ˜€

How do you feel when you win a Topcoder challenge?

πŸ€”πŸ˜ŠπŸ€‘πŸ˜Ž

What is your spirit animal?

πŸŽπŸ–πŸ·πŸ½

What's the weather like at your house right now?

πŸŒ—πŸŒ–πŸŒ•πŸŒ

What are your hobbies?

πŸƒπŸš΄πŸš΅πŸŠ

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