Hall of Fame of ICPC World Champions: Filip Wolski

Filip Wolski was the winner of the IOI 2006 in Mexico and a member of the University of Warsaw team, which won the 2007 ICPC in Tokyo – the only Pole who can boast of such successes. The UW is the only university in the world to continuously advance to the ICPC finals from its first start in the qualifying rounds in 1994, thanks to professors Jan Madey and Krzysztof Diks

When Filip Wolski entered the High School No. 3 in Gdynia, prof. Szubartowski, who taught him computer science for six years, made sure that he quickly learned effective programming, first in Pascal, then in C ++, and deepened his knowledge of algorithmics, but also acquired the skills of creative problem-solving. The 4th place in OI in the 3rd junior school class and 1st place in the 2nd and 3rd high school class let him go to IOI, which he won in 2006. All of these allowed him to be a National Children’s Fund scholarship holder many times. He had the opportunity not only to participate in IT workshops conducted by prof. Madey, its longtime chairman and prof. Diks, but also broaden your horizons regarding the approach to science.

UW wins the ICPC 2007 finals in Tokyo. From the left: prof. Bill Poucher (president of the ICPC Foundation), Filip Wolski, Marcin Pilipczuk, Marek Cygan, prof. Jan Madey, prof. Krzysztof Diks

When he entered the University of Warsaw, in the first year, with Marek Cygan and Marcin Pilipczuk, he won the ICPC 2007 finals, but when he took part in them for the second time a year later, he decided to end the competition once and for all. In his opinion, it was worth it because the study program proposed by the University of Warsaw was exceptionally well thought out in teaching the basics of mathematics and computer science.


Filip Wolski is passionate about active recreation and used his trips to the competition to learn about the local culture. In 2004, after the IOI in Athens, he was eager to complete a diving course on one of the Greek islands. He liked it so much that five years later, he devoted almost the entire year’s dean’s leave to explore the underwater world and science and related business, financed by the Rolex scholarship “2009 European Our World Underwater Rolex Scholar”. During it, he took a course in deep technical diving using trimix. For several months he worked part-time in a company producing diving computers and as an instructor in a diving center in Malta (more details are here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Zn9Bc1Vz8). Hence, it is close to a master’s thesis on diving computer software, which should be reliable enough not to expose divers to health loss in the event of an error. For this purpose, he used formal and automated/probabilistic methods, which have worse theoretical guarantees but lower costs and catch more mistakes in practice. He had dealt with them before, successfully using them to test solutions during the OI. The challenge was that the program was supposed to run on a microcontroller with little RAM, and while it had to run quickly and reliably, it couldn’t be overly extensive. This could only be done in the C language, but to see if it was completely safe, he had to write an alternative program, this time in C ++, based on solutions tested and used around the world, to have a benchmark in testing.

High-Frequency Trading

Although he had passed the exams in the meantime, and the software for diving computers was ready, writing his thesis took a long time, and he was only able to defend it in the fall of 2011, a few months later than the planned date of graduation from before the dean’s leave. Another motivation was that, from January 2012, he had a job in New York waiting for him. He owed it to a recruitment company that encouraged him to take an interest in high-frequency trading (HFT) – an IT technology that stands on one side in most financial markets from at least half of the transaction. When the startup he worked for lost its prominent investor after less than a year, he found his way to Teza in Chicago, where he dealt with a similar topic for the next 3.5 years. In 2016 he got an exciting proposal to start a research job at OpenAI in San Francisco. He first studied the so-called “Deep” AI from scratch in the robotics team, worked on the PPO (Proximal Policy Optimization) algorithm, and then worked for over two years on a neural network intended to defeat the world champions in the Dota 2 computer game. This project ended at the end of 2019 with the publication of an extensive research paper. Still, Filip returned to Chicago after six months, finding employment with Citadel Securities, where he works with HFT. He moved with his family two months ago to Miami, where his company opened a new division.

80th anniversary of the birth of professor Jan Madey. From the left: Wojciech Gryciuk (author of a biography about prof. Madey), Rafał Sikorski (president of the Foundation for Information Technology Development), prof. Krzysztof Diks, prof. Jan Madey and his wife, Dorota, and 5 of 6 ICPC masters: Krzysztof Onak, Marek Cygan, Tomasz Czajka, Marcin Pilipczuk and Andrzej Gąsienica-Samek. (Warsaw, June 14, 2022)

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