Tuesday, September 10, 2013

School, Learning, And What to do with it.

People complain about having to take classes they don't think they'll ever use. And I fell into that camp for a long time, in fact until about 2 days ago I fell into that camp. What changed?

I became a little more enlightened. You see, I don't need to use almost anything I learned in school, except for some of the solid basics, you know, reading, writing, arithmetic. Its when you start trying to solve harder problems that people don't ask you to solve, that you discover that using those tools makes things easier.

I'll give you an example.

I was working on testing some code, it's pretty complicated, and it requires lots of inputs, it outputs 3 values. Now to figure out how to get a particular output can get kinda tricky. So analyzing the function, if you can reduce the number of inputs that change the particular output that will make your job easier.

One way of solving this problem is attempting to plot the inputs, and the outputs and look for commonalities. This was my first attempt at solving this problem. After speaking with a fellow colleague (You know who you are, if you want to be credited I'd be happy to link to you), he suggested that I could write a search algorithm. You see, I had completely forgotten about finding "maximum" and "minimum" values, I even think I heard about it in my Machine Learning class, but unless you are actively searching out these problems it's easy to forget that there are solutions you've already learned about.

Even better my colleague suggested that that particular line of code might be to prevent the variable from causing out of bounds (WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT THE CODE, THAT'S HOW GOOD HE IS). How did he know this? He listened to the signals. I mentioned things like Cosine and Sine were being used in the function. He knew at a high level what KIND of calculations were going on. So he made the guess that it could be protecting. He was right!

So all I can tell you is to keep actively seeking out those problems and using those tools we were taught. I was wrong. I can admit it.