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Miráž Cup – An interview with the winner, Kate Miháliková

May 2019 saw the fifth Miráž Cup programmers’ contest. Unicorn College students compared their programming skills in the course of two days when solving complex programming assignments. What‘s the perspective of the winner, Kate Miháliková?
What did you gain by participating in the Miráž Cup?
It was fun. I enjoyed a bit of complex programming. It was a pity that there weren‘t more tasks. The time passed quickly. It helped me to unwind during the examination period and I forgot about the planned examinations for a while.
What did you like about the Miráž Cup? Did anything surprise you? Did you learn anything?
The event was organized brilliantly – from the topical assignments, through the correction to catering. Everything went smoothly. The atmosphere was friendly, nobody punished any errors and nobody got stressed. I learned that it‘s often better to take some time and consider the problem at the beginning than start churning out some code immediately. That‘s still my problem. My first idea is sometimes not the best solution. I was surprised that I was the only one who tackled Javascript. I understand that it‘s not an ideal language, but one can win the Miráž Cup with it.
How difficult was the whole event?
This year‘s first round assigned easier tasks and the second presented harder ones. The first round focused on mechanical work with fields. The final assignment was based on a diagram passage. I accidentally complicated it for myself. The assignment did not mention that there are only trees at the entry. So, I programmed a solution for any diagram. The second round increased the difficulty significantly, at least in the version with big entry data. The solution required a large amount of thinking. Otherwise, the program might run for days before getting a result. Both rounds presented assignments for complete beginners as well, so such assignments provide great practice outside the contest, too.
Did you surprise yourself?
I‘ve already attended three Advent of Code events, two of them speed programming. Therefore, I had some experience with thinking on my feet. I was surprised though to win in my very first participation here. I haven‘t had any course yet in the first year that would deal with advanced algorithms. Moreover, the competition included several previous champions, so it came as a big surprise. In the end, the fact that the assignments in the first round fit me perfectly helped me win. After all, the overall time decided the winner.
Anything you‘d like to add?
I‘d like to thank all the people who make the Miráž Cup happen, mainly Pavel Bory. He did a great job preparing the assignments and everything around the contest. We had a great time. If this proves to be the final year of the Miráž Cup, I‘ll be really sad. It was a fantastic event. I had so much fun and would love to take part again.