As many of Raincode employees, Yves Jaradin went straight from college to Raincode. But he had quite an unusual path.
Charlotte has met him to talk about his academic background and his passions, mathematics and computer sciences.
Charlotte: Let’s start with an easy question: introduce yourself. Just kidding, it’s never easy.
Yves: Ah! Ah! My name is Yves Jaradin; I am 33…
I’ve been working at Raincode for three years, I think… I am not sure; it must be written somewhere. I got here just before Nils. And before that, I was working at the Université Catholique de Louvain.
Let’s talk about that. What did you study?
Well, I started at kindergarten, like anyone else. It started to be interesting in high school. That’s when I started to like math and programming. I was about 12. I learnt QBasic, Delphi and, therefore, English…
I also participated in the Belgian Mathematical Olympiads, reaching the finals every year, but never winning the 1st prize.
That’s quite impressive! I guess it influenced your academic background…
Well, math and computer science are closely linked. Afterwards, I did a Master in Mathematics at UCLouvain, in 4 years. I was passionate, and I knew I wanted to do both math and Computer Science (CS). And it was obvious to me that if I started by CS, I’d never study math afterwards. That’s why I started by a Master in Mathematics, thinking that, in the worst case scenario, I’d do another four years in CS. In the end, I’m not that far of that scheme, even though it did not happen exactly this way. Indeed, from the 1st year, I had a mandatory CS class, and many elective courses in the following years. I finally did my Master Thesis on a CS topic, with a CS teacher as an advisor. I got along with this teacher; he even offered to advise me for a Ph.D. thesis, in the CS department.
It must have been a nice opportunity. Did you seize it?
It seemed like a great idea, as I wouldn’t have to do another master degree to have a CS diploma. But the administrative part of the deal turned out to be a nightmare. Nothing was organized to do a cross-department thesis, I was supposed to attend classes in different universities across the country while giving lessons in mine…
So did you give up?
No, I did not give up. I am not an administrator, a manager, so in the end, I cut the red tape and didn’t do the year. I got my year validated because the University agreed to count my teaching hours as active experience.
That part was annoying. But, ultimately, it was a very interesting period, and I could justify of valuable experience in programming. I was working in the CS department, teaching, researching, learning and programming. I did an implementation of the Mozart virtual machine, which implements the language Oz. I also did some work in constraint programming, in formal security, and many other domains. As my funding was running low, I heard that a peculiar company was looking for someone…
So you didn’t present your thesis?
No, what I did lacked any unifying theme. I had a defined topic but I never really focused on it. I like research because I like the process of studying a problem and trying to fix it. So every time someone asked my help on their thesis, I was happy to do it. I overlooked my thesis. The silver lining is that it gave me opportunities to work on very funny and interesting matters. I realize that I tend to be keener on doing something when I have the feeling it could help someone. Even here, at Raincode. When I know the customer and that my work will be useful, it’s a lot more fulfilling. I guess human contact matters to me.
What did you teach?
I taught “Introduction to programming concepts” to 2nd and 3rd-year students. I also extensively taught the concurrent programming, distributed applications, because those were the classes given by my advisor. Besides, I taught discrete mathematics, electronics, languages and translators… These are the main topics I can remember.
You talk a lot about mathematics and programming. What are your true passions?
Well, math and IT are pretty much my real passions! Clearly, it’s pretty hard to keep your job as a passion. For example, I do more math as a leisure now that I work in the IT field than during my master in mathematics. Back then, I used to do more programming during my leisure time.
There are a few things I am not interested in. For example, I like cooking, and it is different from my other passions.
Do you watch Cooking TV show?
No, I like to cook. Once in a while, watching others cook can be pleasant but it is not the same thing.
Here, at Raincode, people call you Mr. Wikipedia. What do you think about that?
I always had nicknames like that. When I was in primary school, people used to call me Cuthbert Calculus (a famous character from Tintin, a Belgian Comics by Hergé).
Calculus, because you always had your head in the clouds?
Yes, exactly. I once forgot we had a bank holiday and came to work, only to find closed doors! I seriously have my head in the clouds, yes.
If someone sketched you in a comic book, there would be a cloud full of mathematics formula and code all around you.
Yes, practical life is not always easy for me. I have an excellent memory. When I read a book, I remember every detail, even the most insignificant ones. Idem with things I hear. And as in the IT field, we get to read a lot… That’s how I ended up at Génies en Herbes (Famous TV show on general knowledge, gathering high school’s students from all over French-Speaking Belgium, broadcast on National Television).
Really? Nils did it too!
Oh, my team lost immediately, we could not compare our scores.
Okay, let’s now talk about you at Raincode. What do you do?
Darius like to say I’m his Joker. That is to say that when he’s facing a new, bizarre kind of issue when he has no idea on how to fix it when it doesn’t look like anything we already have done in the past, he asks me. I already look at quite a lot of different stuff here. At Raincode, some clearly have their field of expertise. I did many different things. I started by working on CICS, with Laurent (fellow coworker). I followed with the SQL rewriting part. And then, a bigger piece was the Sort. I worked on it from scratch. You should know that the Sort is like the Swiss knife of mainframes. There are a few mainframe environments that don’t have their Sort. It’s a tool we needed because all our customers needed it. And now, my new big project is the Assembler Compiler.
What brought you at Raincode?
It’s a programming languages specialist company. Obviously, every programmer uses programming languages. But most of them see them as a tool and not as a program in themselves. I am passionate about them. I started very early to program and got hooked on it! I see program languages as something fun and as more than just a tool to fix the problem. And that state of mind is totally consistent with Raincode’s philosophy and core-business. That’s why it is getting on fine. Moreover, it’s a human-sized company, open-minded, close to the customers and not too red tape-driven. I guess that is why I took to it like a duck to water.
Yves worked on this video on the Sort, have a look!