An interview with mugurelionut

Read about our TCO17 Finalists.
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How did you get into programming?

I copied QBasic code from a book when I was maybe in ~5th grade. It was supposed to be an interesting game, and I loved playing games at the time.

I started competitive programming in 9th grade, when I failed to qualify to the national olympiad in Informatics, but a colleague of mine did. Not really used to not being the best in my class 🙂 I trained much more the next year and then managed to qualify. But I also qualified to the national Physics olympiad, so I had to choose which one to attend (they both took place simultaneously). I had actually trained more in Physics, but I still felt that I didn't know enough. While with Informatics, although I knew far less, I thought I could always write some random program, and maybe I'd get lucky and get the correct answer on some tests – it seemed a no brainer that it should be easier to score many points in a programming competition, right? 😀

Which IDE do you use and why?

Dev C++ – it's free.

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

I remember talking with CatalinT in early 2015 about how hard it is to rank high in Topcoder Marathon contests, that there are so many experienced competitors, that qualifying to the TCO Finals is virtually impossible… We both qualified to the TCO Finals that year.

If you could go head to head with another algorithm or marathon competitor, who would you want to compete against and why?

ACRush 🙂 When I first started solving Marathon-like problems (on another web site; I didn't know what the Topcoder Marathon track was about then), ACRush was winning every contest there. Even after I got better and started thinking that I'd have a chance of scoring better than him, he would make a late submission (last hours of a 10-day contest) which would often be much better than anything anyone else had 🙂 I learned quite a few tricks from reading the code of his winning solutions.

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


Best music album to code to?

The sound of silence 🙂 I prefer coding without listening to anything. I find that music distracts me when I work.

What books do you recommend?

Any Terry Pratchett book. I also enjoyed quite a lot books written by Ken Follett (e.g. Pillars of the Earth, World without End, The Century Trilogy).

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs, but I'm not against having them automatically converted to spaces.

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

How do you feel about the TCO17 Finals?


How do you feel when you win a Topcoder challenge?


What is your spirit animal?


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


What are your hobbies?



Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC)
Booz | Allen | Hamilton
Meituan Dianping

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