How Do You Solve Problems

This is a discussion on How Do You Solve Problems within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; I noticed recently a lot of people posting that just don't understand how to solve problems. I am not really ...

  1. #1
    Registered User manofsteel972's Avatar
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    How Do You Solve Problems

    I noticed recently a lot of people posting that just don't understand how to solve problems. I am not really that great at it so I did a search on google and came up with a few sites that gave some pointers and good tips so I added them to my signature. I just thought it would be interesting if anyone had any other tips that they use when they are solving problems that might help the rest of us?
    "Knowledge is proud that she knows so much; Wisdom is humble that she knows no more."
    -- Cowper

    Operating Systems=Slackware Linux 9.1,Windows 98/Xp
    Compilers=gcc 3.2.3, Visual C++ 6.0, DevC++(Mingw)

    You may teach a person from now until doom's day, but that person will only know what he learns himself.

    Now I know what doesn't work.

    A problem is understood by solving it, not by pondering it.

    For a bit of humor check out xkcd web comic http://xkcd.com/235/

  2. #2
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    I solve problems through research and some through trial and error.

  3. #3
    Mayor of Awesometown Govtcheez's Avatar
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    Prayer.

  4. #4
    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by From the site
    Do not try to understand the problem.
    That sounds a bit strange.
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

  5. #5
    and the Hat of Clumsiness GanglyLamb's Avatar
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    When i need to solve a problem and i dont see the answer within 15 minutes of thinking about it and another 10 to 15 minutes trying some things out, i just go for a nice walk around the block ( if im home that block becomes the forrest ).

    Usually the answer to it will just pop into my brain when going for that walk .. if not keep on walking .

  6. #6
    Registered User manofsteel972's Avatar
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    I am like that too GanglyLamb. I stay up late trying to code stuff and then when I get stuck I just go and take a rest close my eyes. Sometimes it works. I research as much as I can as well. I read constantly. And when I am not reading I am trying to code something. I am teaching myself so it is slow going. Yeah Sang-drax it is a bit strange but it made some sense at least to me. I am sure there a many strategies for how to solve a problem. Sometimes you just aren't sure how to aproach it. It still boils down to breaking up a large problem into many smaller sub problems and solving each of those. My problem is that I have too many choices on how to solve it. I spend way too much time trying to find the best solution instead of just solving it.
    "Knowledge is proud that she knows so much; Wisdom is humble that she knows no more."
    -- Cowper

    Operating Systems=Slackware Linux 9.1,Windows 98/Xp
    Compilers=gcc 3.2.3, Visual C++ 6.0, DevC++(Mingw)

    You may teach a person from now until doom's day, but that person will only know what he learns himself.

    Now I know what doesn't work.

    A problem is understood by solving it, not by pondering it.

    For a bit of humor check out xkcd web comic http://xkcd.com/235/

  7. #7
    Carnivore ('-'v) Hunter2's Avatar
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    Solve a problem?..

    Start typing and hope the random characters will form a usable program. If inspiration hits you during this 'seeking' phase, implement ideas on blind faith that they will work. Begin typing random characters again and hope that compiler errors will go away. Repeat, for linker errors. Then, pray and hope to God and Intel that your CPU doesn't melt. On failure, buy a new CPU and repeat process until program runs without CPU meltdown. Now, begin the debugging process: Type random characters and repeatedly compile, link, execute until runtime errors are resolved. Go back to previous steps as required, until desired result is achieved.

    Not the most cost-effective method, but it works if you have enough time and money to blow
    Just Google It. √

    (\ /)
    ( . .)
    c(")(") This is bunny. Copy and paste bunny into your signature to help him gain world domination.

  8. #8
    Registered User manofsteel972's Avatar
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    My pet monkey is hard at work on my other system. I decided to do away with the compiler and just create the binary directly. He is busy flipping a coin for a 1 or 0. He almost has a working os kernel
    "Knowledge is proud that she knows so much; Wisdom is humble that she knows no more."
    -- Cowper

    Operating Systems=Slackware Linux 9.1,Windows 98/Xp
    Compilers=gcc 3.2.3, Visual C++ 6.0, DevC++(Mingw)

    You may teach a person from now until doom's day, but that person will only know what he learns himself.

    Now I know what doesn't work.

    A problem is understood by solving it, not by pondering it.

    For a bit of humor check out xkcd web comic http://xkcd.com/235/

  9. #9
    Registered User major_small's Avatar
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    here's how I do it:

    1- Identify the problem
    2- develop an algorithm
    3- test the algorithm
    4- evaluate the test results
    5- find another n00b to help

    </sarcasm>

    mostly I just sit on it and think for a while, but if I start getting fustrated, I drop it and come back later. or I look up the answer somewhere. but for bigger things or things that I know will get compilcated, I try to think it out first and put together an algorithm that should work in theory.
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    Registered User
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    I drill into my skull and extract the knowledge using a vacuum cleaner

  11. #11
    Registered User axon's Avatar
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    this is actually kind-of related: today in my software engineering class we talked about design issues...and about the whole design process and such. I'm posting some interesting links below. Have you guys ever heard of Deming and his "14 points" ? good stuff.

    Deming's 14 Points
    (Excerpted from Chapter Two of OUT OF THE CRISIS by W. Edwards Deming )

    1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.

    2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.

    3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.

    4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

    5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.

    6. Institute training on the job.

    7. Institute leadership The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul as well as supervision of production workers.

    8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company

    9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.

    10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

    11a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.

    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.

    12a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to joy of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.

    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to joy of workmanship. This means abolishment of the annual merit rating and of management by objective

    13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

    14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.


    links:
    http://betterproductdesign.net/maturity.htm

    there is a chart there describing the Maturity levels and process areas of the Software CMM...I wish I knew this detailed chart at my first interview. One of the questions i was asked was "why should I higher you vs a level 5 programmer from India?" - seriously, the question was a bit more refined then that, but thats the jist of it. Anyways, a level 5 programmer from india "follows" all the criteria on that chart.

    some entropy with that sink? entropysink.com

    there are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness. - franz kafka

  12. #12
    5|-|1+|-|34|) ober's Avatar
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    I tend to be a visual thinker. If I can't figure out why something isn't working, I flowchart how it should work. I then compare that to my current code and that works out most of the bugs. For stubborn bugs, I check all my variables and set counters and such to make sure that things are where they should be.

    Failing that, I post on boards like this.

    I can often visualize the code too in more of a 3d view. I can move through it in my head and put myself in various positions in a program. That tends to help.

  13. #13
    ATH0 quzah's Avatar
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    I just post it on the C board, because I know if I wait long enough, some one will come along and DO THE WHOLE THING FOR ME.

    Quzah.
    Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

  14. #14
    Registered User axon's Avatar
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    >>I can often visualize the code too in more of a 3d view. I can move through it in my head and put myself in various positions in a program. That tends to help.<<

    One of my weaknesses is that I can't think well in abstraction...I have to write things down

    some entropy with that sink? entropysink.com

    there are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness. - franz kafka

  15. #15
    Just one more wrong move. -KEN-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GanglyLamb
    When i need to solve a problem and i dont see the answer within 15 minutes of thinking about it and another 10 to 15 minutes trying some things out, i just go for a nice walk around the block ( if im home that block becomes the forrest ).

    Usually the answer to it will just pop into my brain when going for that walk .. if not keep on walking .
    When I want to lose weight I try to cure cancer.

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