Hi, My Name is Harold, and I'm an Intuitive Thinker.

This is part confessional, part "working it out on paper".

I am an intuitive, synthetic problem solver.  That is, more often than not, a holistic solution pops into my head.  I don't really work it out; I just wait for inspiration to strike and then try like hell to keep up with it.  It oftentimes feels like someone else solved the problem when I'm done.

So, what's the big deal?  I mean, the problems get solved, and my paychecks keep coming, so what of it?  Well, it's tough being a Computer Scientist with this frame of mind.

"Computer Science" so my old professor used to say, is misnamed.  Really, computer science is "Algorithmics," as in the study of Algorithms.  Algorithms, simply, are a sequence of unambigous instructions for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.  The steps in the algorithm must be simple and unambigious, because the Computer Scientists job is to express, code, and combine them in such a way that they can be executed on a Computer, which is a TOMCAT -> Totally Obedient Moron; Can't Actually Think.   A computer can't recognize what you indended to do based on context; at the lowest-level, it's just doing this doing this a billion times a second:
  1. Load the next thing to do.
  2. Do it (add 1+1 to get 2, see if two register contents are equal and change the next instruction  if not, etc.)
  3. Store the result.
Lather, rinse, repeat the above a billion times a second with 61 years of Computer Science in between and you have me writing this blog post.

Anyway, so you can see the central problem in CS is one of analysis followed by synthesis, that is, break down the problem (whatever it may be) to its essence, then synthesize a solution to it via  algorithms, data structures, and higher-level constructs.

So, I'm super at the synthesis.  What I'm realizing is I'm stinking at the analysis portion--I get frustrated too easily.  If the problem is ill-defined, or super-hard, I'm realizing I crutch on my intuitive thinking side too much.  If I've solved the problem before, or if I can find a suitable analog to a problem I've solved before, I'm dynamite --> I can pattern match the solution from my memory and BLAMO, problem solved.  The really hard stuff stymies me. 

Maybe I've just grown lazy after 10 years of drama.  In any case, the first step to repentence is confession. I'm going to work on that analytical process a bit more.  We'll see how it goes.

This blog post brought to you by Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt, which melted my brain today.

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