Targeted solely on success

Minsk student Alexey Ropan and Gomel gymnasium graduate Gennady Korotkevich among world’s top 24 programmers
By Olga Sergeeva

Alexey and Gennady are through to the finals of TopCoder Open 2013 — a prestigious annual individual competition, which gathers IT programmers from around the globe. Viewed as an unofficial world championship, Belarus’ success is both pleasant and expected although, in recent years, the country has been developing its information technologies and has gained a reputation worldwide.

‘Algorithm’ is the most popular event at the competition, envisaging the solution of algorithmic problems and finding others’ faults. This year, just 24 young people (out of almost 3,000 entrants, among whom were Belarusians) are going through to the finals — to be hosted by Washington DC’s Hilton Hotel, from November 10th-14th. Eleven countries are to be represented, with six programmers from Russia, three from Japan and two from the USA, China, Poland, Taiwan, Ukraine and Belarus. Canada, Slovakia and Georgia are sending one participant each.

Victory for whole country
Professor Mikhail Batura — the Rector of the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radio-electronics and the Doctor of Technical Sciences — views the victory of his student as being not only an individual triumph but a reflection of the efforts of the University and of the state. He tells us, “I know Alexey well. He is a member of the University programming team, which has many times won international competitions. In joining a small group of the best — the world programming elite — it indicates that our University’s status is well-deserved. I view the University as a component of our country. Many consider our recent victory grounds for national pride. Interesting parallels may be drawn: the USA and Japan have larger populations than Belarus so it would seem logical to find more talented people there but it’s our guy who has succeeded in joining the leaders.”

Prospects for development
Mr. Batura believes that Belarus has good prospects for IT development, adding, “Importantly, this branch enjoys state support. Meanwhile, our dynamics of development are well confirmed by the High-Tech Park’s activity. Established in 2005, it aims to promote the branch, retaining talented young people. From 2005-2006, Park residents mastered around $30m in international contracts while, in 2012, the figure rose to $300m. The number of operating companies within the Park has risen drastically, now reaching 130 and likely to keep growing. Decades of intensive development lie ahead.” 

Pleasant surprise
Mr. Ropan is yet to decide on his future plans, telling us, “After defending my diploma paper, I felt free yet needed to choose my next path. I still have no idea. As regards my entry to the TopCoder Open 2013 finals, this was a surprise. I was anxious during the quarter-finals but, in the semi-finals, didn’t expect to succeed against such strong rivals, including Belarusians; accordingly, I felt less nervous and found the tasks easier to solve. My calmness helped me to avoid mistakes. The finals are now coming and I plan to seriously ‘fight’. Gennady Korotkevich is an old friend and, after gaining our place in the finals, we chatted by phone to congratulate each other. We kept in touch more before he went to Russia, where he is studying in St. Petersburg.”

Alexey admits that the competition allows him to meet and chat with interesting, like-minded people. Regarding his success so far, he notes, “It’s actually easier to reach your goal if you set your sights modestly.” He refers to the calmness that comes from not placing undue pressure on yourself to perform. In reality, the young men have spent years working hard and deserve their success.
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