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Hi P

Memorizing Programming Languages

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I'm having a hard time memorizing everything I've been reading about a single language, the thing is, I'm doing my best to retain everything (Python):

 

- Make a folder per module

- Make a file per function / method

- Another file to practice it

- Comment everything

 

If anything I at least understand the process that I have to follow and the "why" behind it, so I got that going for me, but I always find myself going back to past notes because I keep fogetting function names, flags, attributes.

 

Python is probably the simplest among the languages... and even then I still forget stuff.

 

For the people who know more than a single language, do you face the same problem?

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My teachers always say you can only remember a specific function/variable/etc. after you have typed it down 10 times. Not copy pasted it; typed it down.

IMO there is no shame in having to go back to notes and documentation to remember something. Just the next time you need to look up something; don't copypaste it, but rather retype it.


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Smart IDEs (editors) exist for a reason.

Some are capable of reading comments - if you write them in a certain way - and function parameters and provide you with auto complete and on the fly documentation

On some, you just have to hover mouse over a keyword (or press a key combo, like Ctrl+Space for example) and the software gives you documentation about that function

 

I don't learn function names and all that, there's documentation for that reason, no reason to fill my brain with it.

Other things like "best practices" and so on get in your head with repetition, once you write enough code it's like driving a car, you don't think about it anymore

 

it's good to learn the basics like how for , while , if work , bitwise and, or (so you can write things like while not end of file and amount of data read in buffer is different than 0 bytes, read next chunk from a file) ... but function names and so on... there's documentation for that.

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22 minutes ago, Hi P said:

If anything I at least understand the process that I have to follow and the "why" behind it, so I got that going for me, but I always find myself going back to past notes because I keep fogetting function names, flags, attributes.

 

Python is probably the simplest among the languages... and even then I still forget stuff.

 

For the people who know more than a single language, do you face the same problem?

I've been doing random coding-project in a dozen different languages for a couple of decades and I still keep forgetting stuff ALL THE FUCKING TIME. The thing is, forgetting is perfectly fine and okay. There is no shame in going back to one's old projects to look at how one did something, or looking at one's own notes, or even googling for how to do something. Even professionals who code shit every day do visit Stackoverflow and the likes to look up stuff.

 

You are punishing yourself over literally nothing, if you feel ashamed when you forget something. It's more important to understand things, than to memorize how to spell everything.


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I forget things that I did in the morning by the time lunch rolls around. Don't be afraid to consult past work or documentation. The key to memorization is repetition. Repeat something enough and you'll memorize it. And then forget it. And then memorize it again. Rinse and repeat. 

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Just keeping this here as a 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4 minutes ago, BuckGup said:

Stackoverflow

That's what I said 😀 Great site, lots of smart folks around! 👍


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I have been programming Python for close to 5 years now. I think I have opened hundreds of CSV files in Python and I guarantee you that I will open up the documentation for the CSV module every time for at least another year. Also it wasn't until a few months ago that I managed to memorize the 'if __name__ == '__main__':' part. Basically I just Google stuff... a lot.


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@Hi P what you are saying is the equivalent of "no one who looks at a dictionary or a thesaurus really understands <insert spoken language here>".

 

What you are facing is a common problem to all of engineering. Many students think that engineering is about memorizing solutions to problems. It is not. Engineering is about memorizing how to find solutions to problems.

 

In programming, that involves reading books, StackOverflow, looking at others code, re-reading ones own code, reading language and library documentation, and even looking at this very forum.


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Yeah, it's pretty normal to forget function names and stuff. I've been programming different languages for a few years now and I always have to look up the most basic stuff. The important thing is that you know where to search.

 

And I also can tell you that my colleagues (most of them with 8+ years of experience) still forget function or module names. It is even normal to forget what your own functions do (that's why you comment everything).

 

So don't worry and learn how to search your own code to find function names. And if you start with another language you will have the problem that you'll always use the wrong functions.

 

So take your time and most important: have fun coding!

 

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2 hours ago, Hi P said:

If anything I at least understand the process that I have to follow and the "why" behind it, so I got that going for me, but I always find myself going back to past notes because I keep fogetting function names, flags, attributes.

This is perfectly normal. There's a lot of information to take in and people only have so much mental room to store that in. It's better to remember the nuances of the programming language itself and have a reference handy for those finer details. And as mentioned before, it's important to know what kind of solution you want to use, rather than the details of that solution.

 

So if I forget that list.append was a thing in Python, if I search "how to add things to the end of a list" or "how to easily add things to a list", I should be able to get what I want. However I sometimes hesitate because JavaScript has a similar function, only it's called "push," and I forget which one is meant for which.

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13 minutes ago, Mira Yurizaki said:

This is perfectly normal. There's a lot of information to take in and people only have so much mental room to store that in. It's better to remember the nuances of the programming language itself and have a reference handy for those finer details. And as mentioned before, it's important to know what kind of solution you want to use, rather than the details of that solution.

 

So if I forget that list.append was a thing in Python, if I search "how to add things to the end of a list" or "how to easily add things to a list", I should be able to get what I want. However I sometimes hesitate because JavaScript has a similar function, only it's called "push," and I forget which one is meant for which.

I agree.

Knowing your intent is the only thing you basically need to remember. As long as you know the term you are looking for you will find what you need. When you know many languages you won't remember all intricate part of the language but you will remember that to communicate with your server thru TCP you are looking at a feature called "TCPClient" or "TCPConnection" and knowing you are going to need to call a method "Connect" or "SendByte/Stream/Data/Text".

 

Knowing the actual language will just make things much faster

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I work as DevOps/SRE and as such I have to deal with code in a lot of different languages (basically whatever the different teams uses) there are days where I have to make code changes in 4 different languages (python, node, typescript, golang) remembering language specifics at the rate I have to change is almost impossible. 

 

I would say that knowing where to look to get the answers to your questions doubts is more important than knowing language specifics, also using IDE's with good autocomplete and deep inspection is a must, also I usually keep a few CheatSheets for the common languages I use at hand to be a bit faster.

 

if you work professionally on a single language the knowledge will get imprinted in your brain the more you work with it, its just the natural learning process. I try not to get to used to a single language as the nature of my job demand me to be "fluid" in whatever gets thrown at me.

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Agree with lacion.

 

What I normally tell people is that there are two primary skills you have to learn as a programmer.

a)  How your language works

b)  How to design a program with that language.

 

You start off learning a specific language (or maybe more than one), and as you work with it and work on projects, you begin to understand how you structure your programs, how to modularize your program to make them simpler, how to design them.

Once you have that down, then that starts feeding back into how you write your programs, what languages you use, what hardware, etc.

 

Thankfully, most of the common programming languages used today have a great deal of similarities in syntax (functions, loops, conditions, etc) and have many similar basic operations and data structures (math library, arrays + array operations, strings + string operations).  What this all means is that even just learning one language you're able to easily start using another one, because there's a damn good chance you can do the same operations in both languages, even if the specifics are different.

 

And no, there's no shame in having to look up stuff or refer to official documentation.  Hell, I prefer to do that.  I've run into too many situations where some arrogant asshole assumed he knew everything and churned out a bunch of code with blatant errors that would have been easily caught if he either double checked.

 

And when you're working on production code in a live environment where if you make a big mistake could take people offline that instant, not taking the time to doublecheck is flat out unacceptable.

 

When I left my interview for my current job, my boss gave me a list of problems he wanted me to work.  He told me: 

"I don't care what resources you use to solve these problems.  I just need to know I'm hiring someone who can solve them."

 

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44 minutes ago, JacobFW said:

What I normally tell people is that there are two primary skills you have to learn as a programmer.

a)  How your language works

b)  How to design a program with that language.

Could I amend that too:

a) How your language works

b) How to design a program with that language.

c) How to search the documentation/online forums related to that language

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33 minutes ago, Billy Pilgrim said:

Could I amend that too:

a) How your language works

b) How to design a program with that language.

c) How to search the documentation/online forums related to that language

Lol, agreed.  Although I think I would lump that in more with having the desire to do things professionally and correctly (which is sadly lacking in many places) and having the stubbornness to see things through, both in your planning and in your execution.

 

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Everyone reflects old code in the beginning. Took me a few months to a year to get most of the important stuff in my head. However I still google basic stuff from time to time. (IE C# random number. I don’t know exactly how it works but in a quick google I know!) 


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6 hours ago, fpo said:

Everyone reflects old code in the beginning. Took me a few months to a year to get most of the important stuff in my head. However I still google basic stuff from time to time. (IE C# random number. I don’t know exactly how it works but in a quick google I know!) 

For your defence it's not the kind of thing you implement everyday. Last time i used an rnd was probably spring 2018 so ~11 months ago. I also don't always remember. 

Plus i've been working professionally with C# since fall 2002 (like 16-17 years ago) and i still need to do quick search here and there.

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every colleague so far agreed that you dont have to know everything. you just have to know where to find it. stackoverflow.

no seriously dont just hard copy learn it all by heart. write some software and the most commonly used stuff will burn itself into your memory.

i myself struggle at times with very basic stuff still. like initializing delegates (c#) or setting up property bindings (wpf/uwp) just cause i dont do it that often and thats fine. cause i always know where to quickly look it up. 

and then also dont just copy paste what you find online but type it out every now and then. that will also help with burning it in.

in my job im often working with huge pre-existing projects so i have a tough time sometimes navigating through it and end up copy pasting and then modifying code.  


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On 3/25/2019 at 1:56 PM, Hi P said:

Python is probably the simplest among the languages

Actually, Lisp is. And it is so much less annoying to write!


Write in C.

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There's no reason for you to memorize, every function is 5 seconds of internet research away.


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-OnePlus X - [7/10]

Spoiler

A good phone for the price. It does everything I (and most people) need without being sluggish and has no particularly bad flaws. The lack of recent software updates and relatively barebones feature kit (most notably the lack of 5GHz wifi, biometric sensors and backlight for the capacitive buttons) prevent it from being exceptional.

 

-Microsoft Surface Book 2 - [Garbage - -/10]

Spoiler

Overpriced and rushed, offers nothing notable compared to the competition, doesn't come with an adequate charger despite the premium price. Worse than the Macbook for not even offering the small plus sides of having macOS. Buy a Razer Blade if you want high performance in a (relatively) light package.

 

-Intel Core i7 2600/k - [9/10]

Spoiler

Quite possibly Intel's best product launch ever. It had all the bleeding edge features of the time, it came with a very significant performance improvement over its predecessor and it had a soldered heatspreader, allowing for efficient cooling and great overclocking. Even the "locked" version could be overclocked through the multiplier within (quite reasonable) limits.

 

-Apple iPad Pro - [5/10]

Spoiler

A pretty good product, sunk by its price (plus the extra cost of the physical keyboard and the pencil). Buy it if you don't mind the Apple tax and are looking for a very light office machine with an excellent digitizer. Particularly good for rich students. Bad for cheap tinkerers like myself.

 

 

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