Friday, March 17, 2017

Hip Hip Array

My programming courses are a semester long. That’s it. After that someone else gets to teach them more programming and computer science. A semester is not a lot of time  so we can only cover so much material. There are days when I really envy my friends who have students for years as in 2, 3, or even 4 year long courses. On the other hand I am finding that I am appreciating the basics more and more all the time.

Take arrays for example. I’ve been around long enough and coded enough that I understand arrays pretty well. I’ve done the who pointer arithmetic thing in C. And the use of offsets in assembly language programming. So I understand what is behind arrays in ways I don’t have near enough time to explain to my students. I think this understanding gives me a greater appreciation for this tool in my toolbox. I literally spent an hour or so last night just contemplating the beauty and power of a simple array. Add to that the power of arrays of objects and mind blown.

OK maybe I get excited easily. On the other hand in many ways writing code seems as new and cool to me as it did when I tool my first programming course over 40 years ago. If anything I am developing new appreciation for the simple less complicated elements of programming languages.  One doesn’t need all the latest and greatest bells and whistles of languages and libraries to have fun writing code.

Though that doesn’t mean I am giving up features like Array.Sort. I’m not totally crazy.


Garth said...

"I literally spent an hour or so last night just contemplating the beauty and power of a simple array." This could be a problem. Many years ago in the Apple IIe era I got hooked on drawing Mandelbrot set art. Many times I would be happily working away at my school computer with a Pascal program to do this and glance up and notice it was 2am. I had to teach at 8:00. My wife finally put her foot down. If I was not home by 8pm she would come chase me home. (We only lived a couple of blocks from the school.) Since then I have managed a self intervention to minimize those "contemplating the beauty and power of cool computer things" moments. I have learned to just say no. Sometimes. Now I have to get back to figuring out how to get my Unity zombie animation C# program to work the way I want it to. (My wife no longed comes and chases me home. We have cell phones so she just calls and asks "Where are you?"

Arta Szathmary said...

As a veteran computer teacher, I have to agree with both of you. I am "retired" from full time teaching at a community college and take great joy in volunteering with middle school girls.

My heart gets warm when students are empowered to modify the few lines of code to produce their own creations. Displaying a piece of pie on the screen and then clicking on it to explode it. That was our celebration of PI day. Event driven program, accepting user input and modifying the view to end users. They can use a QR code reader to open on their phone. They can share with their friends!

Simple, yes, but powerful too.