Starting now, ACM will be moving away from the Summer Member Spotlights to Member of the Month. This program is meant to recognize the achievements of our peers to inform and inspire others.
Our inaugural post goes to Jerry Jiang.
Who are you?
My name is Jerry Jiang, I’m a 3rd year CS major and I’m an incoming Software Development Intern at Amazon Japan next summer. I’m the vice president and one of the founders of cyber@UCR (come to our meetings!). As you might have guessed from my internship choice, my limited free time is usually spent on anime, visual novels, and games.
What got you interested in ICPC?
I always enjoyed competing in things (previously was on our WRCCDC team) and I love programming. I felt like ICPC would be a really great combination of two things I really enjoyed, so here I am.
How was your trip to Barcelona?
It was fun but also surprisingly exhausting. Barcelona is a great city and my experience with the culture and the locals was great. I did not, however, get a carefree 2 week vacation - I spent every day except for one break day on 12-14 hour long bootcamp sessions. The day composed typically of taking the metro to the bootcamp, a full 5 hour competition, lunch, analysis, lectures and keynotes.
The bootcamp practice competitions were extremely brutal, as I would often find myself in the same pool of contestants as some former ICPC world final medalists. You definitely know which days were brutal when you’re 4 hours into the practice competition, 1/3rd of the competitors have not solved a single problem and those very top teams have barely solved half of the questions.
Lectures ranged from string processing algorithms by the founder of Codeforces (HackerRank but competitively ranked and VERY hard) to competitive programming specific data structures by coaches of multiple gold medal teams. It was a very unique educational experience that I wouldn’t have come across normally and provided me with valuable insight.
If anyone has been following the news, I also happened to be at Barcelona when Catalonia was voting to secede from Spain, so that was interesting. I did not expect to be in the middle of a possible political revolution, but I was too exhausted to care about the outside events most of the days. It didn’t seem quite real that hundreds were being injured in the square outside of my hostel room. It also didn’t seem quite real that humans were capable of solving some of those problems in a 5 hour span, so that was more immediately shocking.
What advice would you give to someone interested in ICPC?
Begin practicing now - a lot of teams practice for this competition year-round, as it really is the ultimate CS test. Anything in your classes (sets, maps, A* search, balanced binary trees, MSTs, nim games, recurrence relations, probability, turing machines, computational geometry, dynamic programming, traveling salesman, fermat's, lagrange multipliers and more) is fair game, and if you can do well in this competition you can probably do well anywhere. There are plenty of resources out there and a lot of opportunities to get practice, so please reach out to me and I can help get you started.
I would also like to say the most important thing in competitive programming is to put in the practice and not give up. It’s very easy to be intimidated and even more easy to feel like a complete idiot on these difficult problems, so the important part is to never stop trying to improve.
I plan to hopefully support growth of competitive programming interest at UCR for ICPC, Code Jam and other well known programming competitions. It’s critical that we maintain a pool of interested contestants that will practice regularly to place well in these competitions. This can also be beneficial to students that want some solid interview practice that makes the average interview question look like 1+1. I want to help make UCR more relevant and help our school gain more notice in the world of computer science through these competitions.
For my career and academic goals, I plan to finish my bachelors and start making $$$. I hope Amazon Japan will be a great step towards that.