Programming has been a lifelong hobby for Tim Techathuvanan.
He’s now a mathematician and systems analyst at Baltimore IT consulting firm Holden Information Services. But Techathuvanan said programming has been a skill he kept up while earning his Ph.D. in mathematics, as well as a career as a financial analyst for over 20 years with organizations such as Campbell & Company, US Securities and Exchange Commission and later T. Rowe Price.
Working as an IT professional now is a career switch for Techathuvanan, but coding has always been a part of his job, as he used MATLAB, the statistical computing programming language R and Python to create economic models during his time at Baltimore-headquartered T. Rowe Price.
“I would not have gotten anywhere in finance with just a Ph.D. in math, as silly as that sounds,” Techathuvanan told Techncal.ly. “If I hadn’t been able to program, nobody would have hired me to do the work I was doing. The math degree tells people I know how to solve problems and can stick to a challenging situation.”
With Holden Information Services, Techathuvanan works in automation around server maintenance. He writes scripts related to when computers get added and deleted from a company’s network, while also creating scripts that give data on who’s using all the hard drive space or memory on a client company’s server.
“Because it’s so many computers and it’s these monolithic systems that we’re trying to connect, I have code that will dump a report out of this system, one out of this system and one out of this system. Then glue them all together and see where are we missing pieces,” Techathuvanan said.
But that’s his day job. In his off hours, he likes to play Wordle — you know, the daily, digital word game that took the world and your Twitter feed by storm earlier this year.
Techathuvanan likes puzzles and solving problems. Wordle was the puzzle; the problem was identifying how good he was at Wordle, and how to get better. To solve the problem, he created a bot that made and scored guesses in Wordle in an effort to create the best Wordle player, then compare himself to it.
“Just about everything you want to do, there’s somebody that’s already wrote a library for it,” Techathuvanan said — so he found a Python library with a Wordle dictionary to start. Then, he made his own script to play the game. The bot then knows the correct word of the day and shows him the optimal way to play from a given guess: When Techathuvanan adds a guess, he’s given a numerical number to the word’s ability to lead to the right answer.
The video below is a demonstration of the bot and breakdown of the code, so if you’re obsessed with your Wordle skills, you can get the gist to create your own bot to test your mettle. (His bot’s code isn’t available on GitHub.) Or, maybe use his directions as a jumping off point to imagine your own Python side project to sharpen your programming skills.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-