pani.natalia's blog

By pani.natalia, 4 months ago, In English

Please meet my today’s guest Ali Ibrahim C137 from Syria. We will be talking about competitive programming in times of war and peace.

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- Hello Ali Ibrahim!
- Hello pani!

- What is the correct version of greeting in Syria? Should I say 'Salam Ali Ibrahim' to start a conversation?
- As an Islamic country the common way for greeting is to say "Al-Salam Al-ekom" which translates to "peace upon you". This is a sign of respect with elderly people (+50 years old), other ways of greeting with younger ones can be, "Marhaba", "Salam", or just "Hi" . We use it a lot.

- Many years ago I was going to visit Syria. I had a dream to see Krak de Chevaliers. But suddenly it became too late to visit this castle. TV news shows really sad pictures of Syria. It looks like there must be no internet there. But you are answering me and there are many users from Syria at Codeforces. Are there parts of the country where normal life still exists?
- Nowadays normal life exists almost in 90% of Syria, in the last two or three years things become much better and the war is almost over, before that in the time between 2011 and about 2018 it wasn't safe at all in big parts of the country, there are other crisis we face now such that financial crises, electricity crisis, lack of gas and fuel... But it's safe almost everywhere, "Krak des Chevaliers'' which we call here "Al-Hisn" castle is located in a safe place, you can totally visit it if you still want to.

- Your profile says you are from Latakia. I found it on a map, it is on the sea. I see the sea only during holidays. And it is a strong temptation for me. I think it is difficult to do something not connected with the sea with the sea nearby) How did you start competitive programming? Was it more attractive than the sea for you?
- Last time I have seen the sea was about 5 years ago, I am much more of the indoors type, so going to the sea is not a temptation for me at all, doing Codeforces rounds is much more fun for me.

- So how did you start competitive programming? Did you have any teacher or start on your own?
- When I was a first year student a friend of mine introduced me to ACM contests, which are very popular here in Syria. There was a training camp in my university with world finals coaches, very experienced and helpful, they helped me a lot in my start.

- People in Syria must have been very stressed and unhappy during the war. But they were strong enough to keep their activities. Universities did not stop their work, right? And there were even training camps. You made significant progress at CP. How was it possible to forget about the war and learn?
- I was lucky to live in a city that was safe most of the time. There have been only a few incidents in my city, but I am gonna say we Syrians just got used to it. You can't stay at your home all the time, not going to school or university or work, life will go on and you must keep moving with it, besides hard work was essential for lots of young people to find a way out of it. Most of my hard working friends got well jobs or scholarships from good universities and companies around the world.

- What helped you to progress on Codeforces?
- Practice, practice and practice, I loved doing CP and solving problems and this helped me a lot.

- Are there any good resources for beginners in Arabic?
- Yes, there are some good resources in Arabic, but I rarely try them. My English language is good so I started learning from English resources. These good Arabic resources include YouTube channels SolverToBe and Arabic Competitive Programming.

- Where did you learn English?
- Basically from movies, songs, trying to read different books in English, it will be hard in the beginning but with time you fill find progress. I knew that Arabic language is not a rich language in terms of science so I put in mind to learn English to become better and it paid off. Nothing is easy nor hard, it just needs a lot of patience.

- What resources on English would you recommend? Who is your favorite Competitive programmer from the community?
- My favorite competitive programmer is Errichto. I admire him a lot, I watched almost every video he has made and learned a lot from him. I really admire his cool personality, great skills and big contribution to the community.

- Do you have some traditions to tune before round?
- Before the contest I prepare a cup of coffee. It helps me stay relaxed during the contest, get pen and papers and prepare my IDE (I prefer to use Geany) . In the last 2 — 3 minutes I check if my registered friends and students are online.

- You said you checked friends and students. Do you teach as well?
- I started teaching CP about 3 years back, currently I am the head of coaches in my university, we have a lovely community here and always arrange training camps, you see CP is very popular among university students here in Syria :D

- What is your way to recover after competitions?
- It's that rating is always full of ups and downs, I know that if I am down this round then I will be up next round, this thing helps me keep motivated.

- I mean, how do you relax after a contest. Do you play computer game or watch cinema etc I know you do not go for a walk along the sea)
- I love listening to songs, my favorites are: Alan walker, chaos chaos, Christina Perry, Ed Sheeran and others... Of course as my handle and profile pic say I am a big fan of Rick and Morty, I might watch it for the 102312th time :D

- Do you like to be an author of contests?
- I would love to, I was a problem setter and tester in many local ICPC contests and it was much fun. Currently I am preparing to make a proposal for Codeforces round, hopefully it will be accepted.

- Some people believe that you should not talk about your happiness otherwise somebody "with the evil eye" can take your happiness away. After becoming a master at Codeforces you posted a very warm and open message. You definitely are not afraid of evil eyes. So please tell us about other happy moments in your career.
- My happiest moment was after Codeforces Round #556 (Div. 2), I got the 4th place in the round, this was very special to me because I set up a goal to reach +2K rating before May 2019, and it was the last round before that date :D

- What's your job now and which of your CP skills and knowledge is the most useful there?
- I work as a C++ developer in a Research and Development Department. The most useful part is that I can understand, analyze the problem and think in worst case scenarios. In a previous task we had to draw points and lines. I used my knowledge to solve math problems related to the task that my team leader with years of experience struggled to solve. Also my CP skills was the reason for me to find a job, as I have zero experience in real life programming.

- Do you intend to quit doing CP after graduation?
- Apart from a good Codeforces rating I never had great success in CP, especially in ACM contests that's why for now I don't intend to quit doing CP, I still have unfinished business in this field. Things have been tough with me in the past couple of months, that's why I stopped doing CP, but I will be back soon.

Thank you very much for this warm interview. Good luck! I wish all your dreams came true. May peace be upon you and upon Syria!

 
 
 
 
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4 months ago, # |
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Thank you Natalia, it was a pleasure answering your questions.

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4 months ago, # |
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Hello pani.natalia ,
Next interview with tourist please !

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4 months ago, # |
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Great interview! I hope Syria will reach better levels in CP in the next couple years

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3 months ago, # |
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what an awesome blog post, thanks C137 and pani.natalia

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7 weeks ago, # |
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What a great interview, but I think after reading that we need an explanation of what happened in your last round, did you really cheated on that round, I really hope not and I hope this is just a system glitch and it was a similar code in which you also shouldn't stay silent, anyways I wish you good luck.

sounds like it's a cheating case as sunsiyu reported :( :(

https://codeforces.com/blog/entry/8790?#comment-821380

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    7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    your profile is inspiring..

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    7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I guess he is afraid of rating , See in last two round his almost all submission is on same time. this simply means he is using alt and if contest went extraordinary well he made that submission from main too

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    7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    [Deleted]

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      7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      So do you think that he deserves a second chance because reaching grandmaster is a dream for everyone and because he wrote blogs?

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      7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      wtf

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      7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      he cheated some times before to skip rounds

      what do you mean!? is skipping rounds require any form of cheating? just skip it :D

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      7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      That is hilarious, I hope his ban is permanent. I'm not too fond of cheaters and cheating multiple times is inexcusable in my eyes. He got his second chance already if he wasn't banned the first time.

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    7 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    thank god he hasn't reached grandmaster and became -by cheating- the fourth red coder in Syria

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7 weeks ago, # |
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Glad to know about the situation in Syria.

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7 weeks ago, # |
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Ok but you forgot to ask Why did you cheat?