Programming Pearls

I’ve always considered programming to sit somewhere between art and science, the “art of programming” being a phrase I like. Whilst the language syntax, underlying algorithms and platforms are definitely scientific in their absolute nature, the code we write is less definitive, more personal and in my view a creative process. As with any creative process there can be no concept of complete understanding or state where there is nothing left to learn. All programmers, regardless of proficiency, must acknowledge that whilst they may be able to recite portions of the language reference, they haven’t experienced every possible implementation pattern. It can therefore be said that programming is an endless process of continuous learning, some coders have an aptitude and see the best patterns naturally then validate, some learn through practical experience – most people work in both ways. Over the years I’ve come to realise that for many a key inhibitor to learning and developing as a programmer can be an inability to understand the art-of-the-possible, to adopt a creative programming mindset – maybe even to enjoy the “art of programming” as it should be. A great resource I’ve fallen back on many times to attempt to address this is the celebrated book Programming Pearls, Second edition by John Bentley. The book (published 1999) is a collection of engaging columns covering fundamental techniques and code design principles, and is rightly viewed as a classic. Read it and enjoy.

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