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Miráž Cup – An interview with the winner, Lucie Dvořáčková

On Tuesday, 19thDecember, the results of the second year ofMiráž Cup were announced. The guarantor of the contest, Pavel Bory, who also prepared the assignments for the students, presented the winner. The whole event got positive reception by Marek Beránek, the Unicorn College Managing Director. He especially appreciated the participation and the level of involvement of all participants. And what is the viewpoint of the second year Miráž Cup winner? We asked the victorious Lucie Dvořáčková.
Lucie, what did Miráž Cup give you?
Beside great experiences, new friends and lovely prizes, Miráž Cup motivated me to continue working on my own development. It’s always a positive kick if we see that something works for us. Moreover, Miráž Cup came in the stressful time of tests at school, so it also gave me a pleasant opportunity to forget my duties and rest actively for a little while.
What did you like about Miráž Cup, what surprised you and what did you learn?
First of all, I appreciate the way the event was organized. Pavel Bory clearly made a lot of effort with the preparations. He was with us the whole time and checked our solutions in real time. At one point I thought that he must be on edge even more than us.
It’s hard to say whether one can somehow learn to solve such assignments. It depends on the individual assignment itself and how it suits the specific person because there are no real textbooks for this. But at least I know that when I come across a task of this kind in the future, I’ll remember Miráž Cup and apply the solution.
The last task of the second round concerning big data was a great example. Nobody cracked the problem but when we saw the solution I looked across the group and saw everyone staring with an open mouth at the beauty and elegance of it. I reckon that in the end nobody will ever forget this. :)
How demanding was the event for you?
The most strenuous aspect for me was to be able to keep my full focus for four hours after a whole day at school. In the end, the time ran very fast but focusing so hard really takes a lot of energy. With regard to the tasks, I liked the fact that we got both kinds - those where the solution isn’t so hard to find but the programming takes time and one can easily make a mistake; and those where the result comprises a few lines preceded by a long time of hard thinking about an appropriate algorithm. Therefore, everyone could choose what suits them best.
Most tasks only involved knowledge of fields and cycles, so I think that everyone could find at least one suitable task. The advantage was that - unlike tests at school - the contest doesn’t require as much formal theoretical knowledge as one’s will to think over things.
Would you say you surprised yourself?
I’d be lying if I said no. :) In retrospect, it looks funny because I didn’t even plan to take part in Miráž Cup. I remember seeing the news about the contest in the system but didn’t pay attention to it at all. I didn’t believe that I could present results that I wouldn’t be ashamed of in the end. My friends actually persuaded me a few days before Miráž Cup to come and try out the tasks at least in draft for the fun of it. So all of it came as a bit of a coincidence and therefore the result is an even bigger and more pleasant surprise.
Any more observations?
I’d be glad if my peers realized that it’s no good telling yourself that you don’t know much or enough yet and you have no chance to succeed. I swear they don’t bite at Miráž Cup, nobody gets bad grades or cross at anyone when something is not going that well. On the contrary, such extra-curricular events represent a most pleasant experience and an opportunity to have fun programming. So, I’m really looking forward now to the spring Miráž Cup to challenge all participants, even those who missed this previous round.