Learning coding without constant practice and improvement of your knowledge is impossible. Solving problems is one of the types of homework in coding. And this is what many students dislike the most. They search for coding assignment help and cram the theory, but it still doesn’t bring the desired results when it comes to practice. Let’s find out ways of dealing with this challenge.
How to solve programming problems?
Writing code is nothing more than solving problems; developers do that every day. We offer you a time-tested algorithm for solving problems in programming. It consists of only four steps but is an invaluable strategy. It was invented by George Pólya back in 1945. Not all developers have heard of this person tough they should definitely check out his strategy.
Here are the four steps to solving any problem:
- Understand the problem.
- Develop a plan.
- Execute the plan.
- Look back.
Let’s break them down in more detail.
Step 1: Understand the task
When you need to solve a programming problem, you immediately rush to open a text editor and write code. However, you have to stop and analyze everything.
Before you begin the task, ensure you understand what is required of you. Read the text of the task. You can even read it aloud if that helps you slow down.
After reading the text of the task, figure out any points you don’t understand. If you can, ask the teacher questions to clarify them. If you are solving the problem alone, mull over the parts you don’t understand or Google the answers to your questions.
This first step is vital. We often don’t take enough time to figure out the problem statement. And if you don’t fully understand the task, you’ll have a much harder time solving it.
Ask yourself the following questions to figure everything out:
- What is undefined? What is given? What is the condition?
- Is it possible to fulfill the condition? Is the condition sufficient to determine the unidentified quantities? Or is it insufficient? Or is it redundant? Or is it contradictory?
- Make a picture and enter the appropriate notation.
- Divide the condition of the problem into parts. Can you write them down?
Step 2: Develop a plan for solving the problem
Next, you need to make a plan of how you are actually going to solve the problem. The following questions will help you think through the plan:
- Determine the relationship between the input data and the unknown. You may have to consider an auxiliary problem if a direct relationship cannot be found. You should end up with a solution plan.
- Have you encountered such a problem before? Maybe you have encountered a similar problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a theorem or formula that can be applied?
- Look at the value you are looking for and try to remember a familiar problem with the same or similar unknown. Can you use it or its result? Perhaps you can use the way you solved that problem. Read the problem condition again and try to reformulate it. This may help you to look at it from a different angle.
- If you cannot solve the suggested problem, try to solve some similar problem first.
- Make sure that you have applied all the background data and the problem’s condition and considered all the mathematical concepts.
Having come up with a plan, write it down in the form of pseudocode.
Pseudocode is a set of algorithm steps written in plain language. In other words, this is a step-by-step plan for solving the problem.
Describe each step of the solution. If the problem is complex, there may be many steps.
Step 3: Implement the plan
The next step is to solve the problem. Guided by the pseudocode, write the real code.
Remember not to optimize your code too early. Having written the solution, you may think your code is inefficient and want to improve it. But first, create a simple, mechanical solution.
What if you can’t solve the problem completely? For example, what if you still can’t find a solution to some part of it? You should concentrate on everything else you can write. When you’ve done it, go back to the part that caused you difficulty.
Step 4: Look back
Once you have a working solution in your hands, think about how you can improve it. At this point, you can refactor and transform your solution into a more efficient one.
As you review your work, you may ask yourself a few questions:
- Can you get this result any other way? What are other approaches available?
- Does this solution make sense at first glance?
- Can the result or method be used for some other task?
- Can the performance of the solution be improved?
- Do you think of any ways to refactor this solution?
- How do other people solve this problem?
When you get to step four, you realize that you may never perfect your solution. Even great developers write code that they want to change later. So the questions on this list are just guides that can help you.
You should also keep in mind time management techniques. These simple principles will help you focus your attention on what’s important, not be sidetracked by distractions, and get more done in the same amount of time.
The basic tips include:
- Planning tasks for the day and week;
- Using the Pomodoro Technique to immerse yourself more effectively in your studies;
- Prioritize your tasks using the Eisenhower matrix;
- Eating the frog first (doing the most difficult assignment) and then going to easier ones.
If you don’t feel confident solving problems, remember that problem-solving proficiency is a skill. The more practice you have, the better you will be able to do it. Remember that even experienced senior developers can make mistakes. Don’t let your errors define you, and just keep practicing until you feel confident in your coding skills and knowledge.