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Coding is like solving puzzles for the world’s youngest computer programmer

Coding is like solving puzzles for the world’s youngest computer programmer

Nine-year-old Kautilya Katariya had just returned after delivering his speech and conducting workshops for Dubai's top university students. The young coding genius was lounging at his home in Northampton, UK, in a Diwali mood, with his mum, dad and little brother, Shiv.

"Normally, I solve algorithm problems, but since it's Diwali today, I was creating a firework program, and it's not too fireworky yet. I am also working on the Blackhole program, which simulates a black hole using Python and some formulas for fun," he told iGlobal, while carelessly fidgeting with a self-created fireworks game on his computer.

Kautilya was only six years old when he earned the Guinness World Record as the world's youngest computer programmer. At eight, he became an IBM Artificial Intelligence (AI) professional and a certificated Microsoft Technology Associate while passing UK GCSE maths with the highest grade possible.

Now at nine, the child genius is taking his A-levels and college-level Mathematics. But he also attends regular year three classes in his school, informed his parents.

An associate member of Masason Foundation, Japan, he delivers talk about Computing, Data Science, Machine learning, Python and programming on different worlds stage like the EuroPython conference, World AI Summit, and Malaysia Tech Month.

Recently, the computing explorer and problem solver was invited by the Prime Minister's office in UAE to speak at the 'World Government Summit March 2022, Dubai'. There he addressed more than 500 people, including Ministers from the UAE Government, public representatives from around the world and CEOs and leaders of some tech companies.

"I guess I just love numbers, and coding is fun to me, and it's like solving puzzles. I love to see my program work as it should after applying all those logic and efforts," he said.

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When asked about his favourite computer program, the young computer genius struggled a bit.

"It's tough to pick my favourite out of 100s of programs I have made to solve various problems or create something," he said simply.

"One of my favourite programs is this Artificial Intelligence Tic Tac Toe program using Minimax Algorithms. I also like this Fourier transform program and I think I like it because they combine maths and coding."

Besides Mathematics, other life priorities were relatively easy for him to set.

"I love to play with my three-year-old little brother and my friends. I love swimming, cycling and playing some more…" he smiled.

The real challenge for Kautilya is finding friends with whom he can brainstorm and share his passion for computing and mathematics.

"Kautilya got lots of friends of his age but none of his knowledge because of his age. So sometimes, he feels he needs to have friends with whom he can discuss and solve problems.

He is working on building a portal where he could meet, connect with passionate people like himself of similar interests and discuss and solve the problems together," explained Kautilya's mother, Trupti Katariya.

"In future, I would love to create a new type of AI algorithm, maybe a different perspective of Artificial Intelligence. When I grow bigger, I might become a mathematician, computer scientist, or both," Kautilya added.

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As a baby, Kautilya was just like any other baby –energetic and playful, always keeping his parents on their toes.

"When he was sleeping, nothing could wake him up, and when he was playing, nothing could stop him," Mrs Katariya laughed.

"When he was a baby, he used to cry in the evening, but not so much as a toddler. Sometimes he'd throw a tantrum, but that's only when he would get bored and had exhausted exploring everything around him," remembers Kautilya's father, Ishwari Katariya.

Kautilya's father comes from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and his mother is from Udaipur, Rajasthan. Kautilya was born in India and moved to the UK with his parents in 2017. Both his parents are software engineers.

Mr Katariya remembered how they were working from home during the pandemic lockdown, and the then 5-years-old Kautilya would constantly seek things around the house to stimulate and quench his intellectual cravings.

"We gave him a book about basic computing and logic to keep him busy. He liked it so much that he made a logical program on paper and asked if he could use my laptop to write the real code. We were surprised to see him downloading and installing Python on a laptop by himself just by following the instructions in the book. He wrote his first program, and he was so happy to see his program is working as he expected," Mr Katariya beamed.

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Interestingly, the ancient Indian teacher and author Chanakya's other name is Kautilya, who is revered even today for his wisdom in economics, maths, strategy and philosophy.

An avid reader of Indian history, Mrs Katariya takes an active interest in spirituality and Yoga.

"When we got a little boy, and his name Rashi came with the letter 'K', we chose to name him Kautilya. Because we both are admirers of Chanakya/Kautilya's strong character, knowledge, vision and value he held at that time, which once united most parts of Bharat," she said.

How was she to know then her Kautilya Katariya would be on his way to fulfilling the name's greatness so early in his life!

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