Book Review: Think Like a Programmer

17 Jan
2013/01/17

This is my first attempt at writing a book review, so bare with me if it is not the best around. And here the “usual” disclaimer: I received a free copy of “Think Like a Programmer” from NoStarch Press.

The book: Think Like a Programmer an Itroduction to Creative Problem Solving

Think Like a Programmer Book Cover

Think Like a Programmer book cover.

As the titles goes, this is not only a book about programming or development, it is an exercise on problem solving and thinking. The book has one of the best starts I could imagine: puzzles. Funny puzzles, those that nowadays scare candidates during the hiring processes at big companies.

The puzzle-pace is kept for the first two chapters, and the author guides you into well detailed examples of problem solving: how to break a problem into smaller parts, how to apply your knowledge to unknown problems, where and how to recognize patterns.

After these two introductory chapters, things start to get serious. Complex concepts are introduced: arrays, pointers, classes, dynamic memory… and the problems accompanying them resemble real-life ones. To fully grok these sections, a good knowledge of C++ is needed. The author introduces each new topic with the basic needed coding knowledges, but if you do not have any previous C or C++ skills at all, the examples and the exercises might be daunting.

The book is broken into 8 chapters and you can perceive the complexity increasing up to a peak in the middle ones. The last two chapters are less demanding and the concepts introduced are not tied to any particular programming language: they step into the realm of software engineering, code reuse and something I would refer to as task management.

In the End…

It is not meant to be a cookbook, nor something you can use as a reference manual. You have to embark yourself , and let the author sail you through a journey of discoveries, learning and problem solving, being patient and going through the proposed exercises. It is a training for your brain, for your code writing-fu, and mostly for how to approach problems and how to tackle them.

Tags: , ,