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Thread: I'm learning to program so that I can think better

  1. #1
    Member manzanita's Avatar
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    I'm learning to program so that I can think better

    I struggle lots with disorganized thinking and inefficiently-executed thought, so this year I resolved to learn to think better. I'm two weeks into learning python and I think it's too already to draw any conclusions, although I'm enjoying the nuts out of it.

    What do you think about the idea of using programming languages to model thought/improve thinking? Have I started with a bullshit premise? I tossed the idea around for nearly a year before actually mustering the motivation to start.

  2. #2
    (╯□)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    Totally makes sense to me, and Python is a good choice. I couldn't say for sure whether it helps general thinking processes, but it seems intuitive that learning to program would instil some useful generalisable problem solving skills. Other than that, it's pretty empowering to have the means of creating solutions / services / apps for whatever you dream up. And it makes you more employable and provides a new avenue for self-employment. Good job.

    What resources have been most useful to you as a beginner?

  3. #3
    Member manzanita's Avatar
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    I've tried to learn before. I don't learn by reading, though; I learn by doing. Most resources just have seemingly-endless reading on things that have no context for me yet. I was lamenting my motivation troubles and a friend gave me this link and told me "do five problems by Wednesday": http://www.codingbat.com

    I did 15 problems that night. I love the format. There are some example-code and help pages/videos if you need them, but mostly it just tells you to solve it. I looked at the answers first for the first two problems, and after that, progress was quick. The last one I solved last night was to return True if the strings "cat" and "dog" appeared the same number of times in a given string. I'm getting hung up on details (like accidentally putting in "1" instead of "i" or mixing up "==" vs "=").

    I also found an interactive textbook free online: http://www.interactivepython.org - this is my next move after I complete all of the python problems at codingbat (which also has java problems).

    I am open to suggestions for either other resources or other languages, though I'm going to stick with python for now.

  4. #4
    know nothing pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    I strongly suggest that you start thinking of an actual project you'd like to do. If you're anything like me you'll get bored of these types of puzzle problems, and I also think they're more like learning how to unscrew things and tighten bolts whereas working on a project is like building an engine. You'll encounter the issues of making sure all the different pieces of what you're doing work together, and you'll have to organize your thinking to track the structure of what you're trying to create. For me, at least, this was way harder than just solving the problems and really challenged me. I also think, though, that you're going to want to have an idea of somethng you'd like to an accomplish in order to stay motivated.

  5. #5
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    I humbly suggest Javascript as a better starting point.
    More relevant, more employable, more ubiquitous.

    That aside, I agree with Deckard: you'll learn problem solving skills by accident, if nothing else. Also, at least for me, it has helped condition me to look at the realities of what are and why, regardless of/as against what people think or say about them. It is you vs. the realities of the situation, and step one is recognizing the realities.

  6. #6
    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    I humbly suggest you ignore ptah and focus on whatever you like :P

    /employability depends on the speciality, just for the record. Jobs I'm interested in ask for python/perl/R. None ask for javascript. And if you don't care about employability, just do whatever is easiest/most accessible around you. That basics of programming are basically the same across most languages for which you'll find tutorials :P

  7. #7
    I've been programming since I was a child. It's like a chicken or the egg question for me at this point, as I can't remember how my thought process worked before I was introduced to programming. I do, however, believe that it serves to keep our minds sharp as we age at the very least.

  8. #8
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stigmatica View Post
    I've been programming since I was a child. It's like a chicken or the egg question for me at this point, as I can't remember how my thought process worked before I was introduced to programming. I do, however, believe that it serves to keep our minds sharp as we age at the very least.
    Me too- I was 11.

    OP: Everything I've read has said programmers love coding in Python and my own experience with it corroborates that. What you choose as your main language will be based on what you're going to do with it. You can go with Ptah's suggestion after you've hammered out your logic. Once you have the logic down, you can learn any language. Javascript is nice because browsers run it and if you want to write games, the HTML5 spec coupled with JS and CSS3 can be your huckleberry.
    Stand clear of the closing doors, please.

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    Married Mouth-breather JohnClay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granny Smith View Post
    ....What do you think about the idea of using programming languages to model thought/improve thinking? Have I started with a bullshit premise?....
    I think object-oriented languages (Java, C#?, C++) would help organize your thinking but generally otherwise it can allow you to write really messy code - even "spaghetti code". You should give things good names but technically it will still run even if you give functions and variables terrible names. You should also lay things out with the recommended indentation.

  10. #10
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granny Smith View Post
    I am open to suggestions for either other resources or other languages, though I'm going to stick with python for now.
    How is this going? What was your latest project?
    Stand clear of the closing doors, please.

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