Problem Solving

Foundations course, introduction.

Before we start digging into some pretty nifty JavaScript, we need to begin talking about problem solving : the most important skill a developer needs.

Problem solving is the core thing software developers do. The programming languages and tools they use are secondary to this fundamental skill.

V. Anton Spraul defines problem solving in programming as:

Problem solving is writing an original program that performs a particular set of tasks and meets all stated constraints. - Think Like a Programmer

The set of tasks can range from solving small coding exercises all the way up to building a social network site like Facebook or a search engine like Google. Each problem has its own set of constraints, for example, high performance and scalability may not matter too much in a coding exercise but it will be vital in apps like Google that need to service billions of search queries each day.

New programmers often find problem solving the hardest skill to build. It’s not uncommon for budding programmers to breeze through learning syntax and programming concepts, yet when trying to code something on their own, they find themselves staring blankly at their text editor not knowing where to start.

The best way to improve your problem solving ability is by building experience by making lots and lots of programs. The more practice you have the better you’ll be prepared to solve real world problems.

In this lesson we will walk through a few techniques that can be used to help with the problem solving process.

Lesson Overview

This section contains a general overview of topics that you will learn in this lesson.

Understand the Problem

The first step to solving a problem is understanding exactly what the problem is. If you don’t understand the problem, you won’t know when you’ve successfully solved it and may waste a lot of time on a wrong solution .

To gain clarity and understanding of the problem, write it down on paper, reword it in plain English until it makes sense to you, and draw diagrams if that helps. When you can explain the problem to someone else in plain English, you understand it.

Now that you know what you’re aiming to solve, don’t jump into coding just yet. It’s time to plan out how you’re going to solve it first. Some of the questions you should answer at this stage of the process:

The last question is where you will write out an algorithm to solve the problem. You can think of an algorithm as a recipe for solving a particular problem. It defines the steps that need to be taken by the computer to solve a problem in pseudocode.

Pseudocode is writing out the logic for your program in natural language instead of code. It helps you slow down and think through the steps your program will have to go through to solve the problem.

Here’s an example of what the pseudocode for a simple program that prints all numbers up to an inputted number might look like:

This is a very simple program to demonstrate how pseudocode looks. There will be more examples of pseudocode included in the assignments.

Divide and Conquer

From your planning, you should have identified some subproblems of the big problem you’re solving. Each of the steps in the algorithm we wrote out in the last section are subproblems. Pick the smallest or simplest one and start there with coding.

It’s important to remember that you might not know all the steps that you might need up front, so your algorithm may be incomplete -— this is fine. Getting started with and solving one of the subproblems you have identified in the planning stage often reveals the next subproblem you can work on. Or, if you already know the next subproblem, it’s often simpler with the first subproblem solved.

Many beginners try to solve the big problem in one go. Don’t do this . If the problem is sufficiently complex, you’ll get yourself tied in knots and make life a lot harder for yourself. Decomposing problems into smaller and easier to solve subproblems is a much better approach. Decomposition is the main way to deal with complexity, making problems easier and more approachable to solve and understand.

In short, break the big problem down and solve each of the smaller problems until you’ve solved the big problem.

Solving Fizz Buzz

To demonstrate this workflow in action, let’s solve a common programming exercise: FizzBuzz .

Understanding The Problem

Write a program that takes a user’s input and prints the numbers from one to the number the user entered. However, for multiples of three print Fizz instead of the number and for the multiples of five print Buzz . For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print FizzBuzz .

This is the big picture problem we will be solving. It’s pretty simple so we may not need to reword it. But we can always make it clearer by rewording it.

Write a program that allows the user to enter a number, print each number between one and the number the user entered, but for numbers that divide by 3 without a remainder print Fizz instead. For numbers that divide by 5 without a remainder print Buzz and finally for numbers that divide by both 3 and 5 without a remainder print FizzBuzz .

Does your program have an interface? What will it look like? Our FizzBuzz solution will be a browser console program, so we don’t need an interface. The only user interaction will be allowing users to enter a number.

What inputs will your program have? Will the user enter data or will you get input from somewhere else? The user will enter a number from a prompt (popup box).

What’s the desired output? The desired output is a list of numbers from 1 to the number the user entered. But each number that is divisible by 3 will output Fizz , each number that is divisible by 5 will output Buzz and each number that is divisible by both 3 and 5 will output FizzBuzz .

Given your inputs, what are the steps necessary to return the desired output? The algorithm in pseudocode for this problem:

Divide and Conquer (Implement)

As we can see from the algorithm we developed, the first subproblem we can solve is getting input from the user. So let’s start there and verify it works by printing the entered number.

With JavaScript, we’ll use the “prompt” method.

The above code should create a little popup box that asks the user for a number. The input we get back will be stored in our variable answer . Note : We wrapped the prompt call in a parseInt function so that a number is returned from the user’s input.

With that done, let’s move on to the next subproblem: “Loop from 1 to the entered number”. There are many ways to do this in JavaScript. One of the common ways - that you actually see in many other languages like Java, C++, and Ruby - is with the for loop :

If you haven’t seen this before and it looks strange, it’s actually straightforward. We declare a variable i and assign it 1: the initial value of the variable i in our loop ( NOTE : Most of the time, programmers find themselves looping from 0. Due to the needs of our program, we’re starting from 1). The second clause, i <= answer is our condition. We want to loop until i is greater than answer . The third clause, i++ , tells our loop to increment i by 1 every iteration. As a result, if the user inputs 10, this loop would print numbers 1 - 10 to the console.

With that working, let’s move on to the next problem: If the current number is divisible by 3, then print Fizz .

We are using the modulus operator ( % ) here to divide the current number by three. If you recall from a previous lesson, the modulus operator returns the remainder of a division. So if a remainder of 0 is returned from the division, it means the current number is divisible by 3.

After this change the program will now output this when you run it and the user inputs 10:

The program is starting to take shape. The final few subproblems should be easy to solve as the basic structure is in place and they are just different variations of the condition we’ve already got in place. Let’s tackle the next one: If the current number is divisible by 5 then print Buzz .

When you run the program now, you should see this output if the user inputs 10:

We have one more subproblem to solve to complete the program: If the current number is divisible by 3 and 5 then print FizzBuzz .

We’ve had to move the conditionals around a little to get it to work. The first condition now checks if i is divisible by 3 and 5 instead of checking if i is just divisible by 3. We’ve had to do this because if we kept it the way it was, it would run the first condition if (i % 3 === 0) , so that if i was divisible by 3, it would print Fizz and then move on to the next number in the iteration, even if i was divisible by 5 as well.

With the condition if (i % 3 === 0 && i % 5 === 0) coming first, we check that i is divisible by both 3 and 5 before moving on to check if it is divisible by 3 or 5 individually in the else if conditions.

The program is now complete! If you run it now you should get this output when the user inputs 20:

Additional Resources

This section contains helpful links to other content. It isn’t required, so consider it supplemental.

Knowledge Check

This section contains questions for you to check your understanding of this lesson on your own. If you’re having trouble answering a question, click it and review the material it links to.

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Lesson 26 of 31 By Hemant Deshpande

An Ultimate Guide That Helps You to Develop and Improve Problem Solving in Programming

Table of Contents

Coding and Programming skills hold a significant and critical role in implementing and developing various technologies and software. They add more value to the future and development. These programming and coding skills are essential for every person to improve problem solving skills. So, we brought you this article to help you learn and know the importance of these skills in the future. 

Basics to Advanced - Learn It All!

Basics to Advanced - Learn It All!

Topics covered in this problem solving in programming article are:

What is Problem Solving in Programming?

Computers are used to solve various problems in day-to-day life. Problem Solving is an essential skill that helps to solve problems in programming. There are specific steps to be carried out to solve problems in computer programming, and the success depends on how correctly and precisely we define a problem. This involves designing, identifying and implementing problems using certain steps to develop a computer.

When we know what exactly problem solving in programming is, let us learn how it impacts your career growth.

How Does It Impact Your Career?

Many companies look for candidates with excellent problem solving skills. These skills help people manage the work and make candidates put more effort into the work, which results in finding solutions for complex problems in unexpected situations. These skills also help to identify quick solutions when they arise and are identified. 

People with great problem solving skills also possess more thinking and analytical skills, which makes them much more successful and confident in their career and able to work in any kind of environment. 

The above section gives you an idea of how problem solving in programming impacts your career and growth. Now, let's understand what problem solving skills mean.

Problem Solving Skills in Programming

Solving a question that is related to computers is more complicated than finding the solutions for other questions. It requires excellent knowledge and much thinking power. Problem solving in programming skills is much needed for a person and holds a major advantage. For every question, there are specific steps to be followed to get a perfect solution. By using those steps, it is possible to find a solution quickly.

The above section is covered with an explanation of problem solving in programming skills. Now let's learn some steps involved in problem solving.

Front or Back-End Development? Learn It All!

Front or Back-End Development? Learn It All!

Steps Involved in Problem Solving

Before being ready to solve a problem, there are some steps and procedures to be followed to find the solution. Let's have a look at them in this problem solving in programming article.

Basically, they are divided into four categories:

Analysing the Problem

Every problem has a perfect solution; before we are ready to solve a problem, we must look over the question and understand it. When we know the question, it is easy to find the solution for it. If we are not ready with what we have to solve, then we end up with the question and cannot find the answer as expected. By analysing it, we can figure out the outputs and inputs to be carried out. Thus, when we analyse and are ready with the list, it is easy and helps us find the solution easily. 

Developing the Algorithm

It is required to decide a solution before writing a program. The procedure of representing the solution  in a natural language called an algorithm. We must design, develop and decide the final approach after a number of trials and errors, before actually writing the final code on an algorithm before we write the code. It captures and refines all the aspects of the desired solution.

Once we finalise the algorithm, we must convert the decided algorithm into a code or program using a dedicated programming language that is understandable by the computer to find a desired solution. In this stage, a wide variety of programming languages are used to convert the algorithm into code. 

Testing and Debugging

The designed and developed program undergoes several rigorous tests based on various real-time parameters and the program undergoes various levels of simulations. It must meet the user's requirements, which have to respond with the required time. It should generate all expected outputs to all the possible inputs. The program should also undergo bug fixing and all possible exception handling. If it fails to show the possible results, it should be checked for logical errors.

Industries follow some testing methods like system testing, component testing and acceptance testing while developing complex applications. The errors identified while testing are debugged or rectified and tested again until all errors are removed from the program.

The steps mentioned above are involved in problem solving in programming. Now let's see some more detailed information about the steps to improve problem solving in programming.

Steps to Improve Problem Solving in Programming

Right mindset.

The way to approach problems is the key to improving the skills. To find a solution, a positive mindset helps to solve problems quickly. If you think something is impossible, then it is hard to achieve. When you feel free and focus with a positive attitude, even complex problems will have a perfect solution.

Making Right Decisions

When we need to solve a problem, we must be clear with the solution. The perfect solution helps to get success in a shorter period. Making the right decisions in the right situation helps to find the perfect solution quickly and efficiently. These skills also help to get more command over the subject.

Keeping Ideas on Track

Ideas always help much in improving the skills; they also help to gain more knowledge and more command over things. In problem solving situations, these ideas help much and help to develop more skills. Give opportunities for the mind and keep on noting the ideas.

Learning from Feedbacks

A crucial part of learning is from the feedback. Mistakes help you to gain more knowledge and have much growth. When you have a solution for a problem, go for the feedback from the experienced or the professionals. It helps you get success within a shorter period and enables you to find other solutions easily.

Want a Top Software Development Job? Start Here!

Want a Top Software Development Job? Start Here!

Asking Questions

Questions are an incredible part of life. While searching for solutions, there are a lot of questions that arise in our minds. Once you know the question correctly, then you are able to find answers quickly. In coding or programming, we must have a clear idea about the problem. Then, you can find the perfect solution for it. Raising questions can help to understand the problem.

These are a few reasons and tips to improve problem solving in programming skills. Now let's see some major benefits in this article.

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Problem solving in programming skills is important in this modern world; these skills build a great career and hold a great advantage. This article on problem solving in programming provides you with an idea of how it plays a massive role in the present world. In this problem solving in programming article, the skills and the ways to improve more command on problem solving in programming are mentioned and explained in a proper way.

If you are looking to advance in your career. Simplilearn provides training and certification courses on various programming languages - Python , Java , Javascript , and many more. Check out our Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development course that will help you excel in your career.

If you have any questions for us on the problem solving in programming article. Do let us know in the comments section below; we have our experts answer it right away.

About the Author

Hemant Deshpande

Hemant Deshpande, PMP has more than 17 years of experience working for various global MNC's. He has more than 10 years of experience in managing large transformation programs for Fortune 500 clients across verticals such as Banking, Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Telecom and others. During his career he has worked across the geographies - North America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Hemant is an internationally Certified Executive Coach (CCA/ICF Approved) working with corporate leaders. He also provides Management Consulting and Training services. He is passionate about writing and regularly blogs and writes content for top websites. His motto in life - Making a positive difference.

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Problem-Solving. How to Boost Your Ability to Solve Programing Tasks and Challenges

Problem-Solving. How to Boost Your Ability to Solve Programing Tasks and Challenges - 1

1. Make sure you understand the problem

2. break down the problem into smaller ones, 3. plan the solution first, 4. solve programming problems on various preparation platforms.

One of the most popular tech interview platforms with a huge community and over 1650 problems for you to practice. Supports 14 programming languages including Java.

Interview Cake

Another well-known website with all kinds of content for programmers, including programming tasks, articles, tips and lots of interview questions.


Besides programming problems, this platform allows you to test yourself in mock interviews, as well as to participate in coding competitions and hackathons.

5. Use CodeGym to practice and learn how to approach programming problems

6. play coding games to practice problem-solving while having fun, 7. extend your knowledge of design patterns, algorithms and data structures, 8. get feedback, expert advice.

Problem-Solving. How to Boost Your Ability to Solve Programing Tasks and Challenges - 2

How to Solve Coding Problems with a Simple Four Step Method

I had fifteen minutes left, and I knew I was going to fail.

I had spent two months studying for my first technical interview.

I thought I was prepared, but as the interview came to a close, it hit me: I had no idea how to solve coding problems.

Of all the tutorials I had taken when I was learning to code, not one of them had included an approach to solving coding problems.

I had to find a method for problem-solving—my career as a developer depended on it.

I immediately began researching methods. And I found one. In fact, what I uncovered was an invaluable strategy. It was a time-tested four-step method that was somehow under the radar in the developer ecosystem.

In this article, I’ll go over this four-step problem-solving method that you can use to start confidently solving coding problems.

Solving coding problems is not only part of the developer job interview process—it’s what a developer does all day. After all, writing code is problem-solving.

A method for solving problems

This method is from the book How to Solve It by George Pólya. It originally came out in 1945 and has sold over one million copies.

His problem-solving method has been used and taught by many programmers, from computer science professors (see Udacity’s Intro to CS course taught by professor David Evans) to modern web development teachers like Colt Steele.

Let’s walk through solving a simple coding problem using the four-step problem-solving method. This allows us to see the method in action as we learn it. We'll use JavaScript as our language of choice. Here’s the problem:

Create a function that adds together two numbers and returns that value. There are four steps to the problem-solving method:

Let’s get started with step one.

Step 1: Understand the problem.

When given a coding problem in an interview, it’s tempting to rush into coding. This is hard to avoid, especially if you have a time limit.

However, try to resist this urge. Make sure you actually understand the problem before you get started with solving it.

Read through the problem. If you’re in an interview, you could read through the problem out loud if that helps you slow down.

As you read through the problem, clarify any part of it you do not understand. If you’re in an interview, you can do this by asking your interviewer questions about the problem description. If you’re on your own, think through and/or Google parts of the question you might not understand.

This first step is vital as we often don’t take the time to fully understand the problem. When you don’t fully understand the problem, you’ll have a much harder time solving it.

To help you better understand the problem, ask yourself:

What are the inputs?

What kinds of inputs will go into this problem? In this example, the inputs are the arguments that our function will take.

Just from reading the problem description so far, we know that the inputs will be numbers. But to be more specific about what the inputs will be, we can ask:

Will the inputs always be just two numbers? What should happen if our function receives as input three numbers?

Here we could ask the interviewer for clarification, or look at the problem description further.

The coding problem might have a note saying, “You should only ever expect two inputs into the function.” If so, you know how to proceed. You can get more specific, as you’ll likely realize that you need to ask more questions on what kinds of inputs you might be receiving.

Will the inputs always be numbers? What should our function do if we receive the inputs “a” and “b”? Clarify whether or not our function will always take in numbers.

Optionally, you could write down possible inputs in a code comment to get a sense of what they’ll look like:

//inputs: 2, 4

What are the outputs?

What will this function return? In this case, the output will be one number that is the result of the two number inputs. Make sure you understand what your outputs will be.

Create some examples.

Once you have a grasp of the problem and know the possible inputs and outputs, you can start working on some concrete examples.

Examples can also be used as sanity checks to test your eventual problem. Most code challenge editors that you’ll work in (whether it’s in an interview or just using a site like Codewars or HackerRank) have examples or test cases already written for you. Even so, writing out your own examples can help you cement your understanding of the problem.

Start with a simple example or two of possible inputs and outputs. Let's return to our addition function.

Let’s call our function “add.”

What’s an example input? Example input might be:

// add(2, 3)

What is the output to this? To write the example output, we can write:

// add(2, 3) ---> 5

This indicates that our function will take in an input of 2 and 3 and return 5 as its output.

Create complex examples.

By walking through more complex examples, you can take the time to look for edge cases you might need to account for.

For example, what should we do if our inputs are strings instead of numbers? What if we have as input two strings, for example, add('a', 'b')?

Your interviewer might possibly tell you to return an error message if there are any inputs that are not numbers. If so, you can add a code comment to handle this case if it helps you remember you need to do this.

Your interviewer might also tell you to assume that your inputs will always be numbers, in which case you don’t need to write any extra code to handle this particular input edge case.

If you don’t have an interviewer and you’re just solving this problem, the problem might say what happens when you enter invalid inputs.

For example, some problems will say, “If there are zero inputs, return undefined.” For cases like this, you can optionally write a comment.

// check if there are no inputs.

// If no inputs, return undefined.

For our purposes, we’ll assume that our inputs will always be numbers. But generally, it’s good to think about edge cases.

Computer science professor Evans says to write what developers call defensive code. Think about what could go wrong and how your code could defend against possible errors.  

Before we move on to step 2, let’s summarize step 1, understand the problem:

-Read through the problem.

-What are the inputs?

-What are the outputs?

Create simple examples, then create more complex ones.

2. Devise a plan for solving the problem.

Next, devise a plan for how you’ll solve the problem. As you devise a plan, write it out in pseudocode.

Pseudocode is a plain language description of the steps in an algorithm. In other words, your pseudocode is your step-by-step plan for how to solve the problem.

Write out the steps you need to take to solve the problem. For a more complicated problem, you’d have more steps. For this problem, you could write:

// Create a sum variable.

Add the first input to the second input using the addition operator .

// Store value of both inputs into sum variable.

// Return as output the sum variable. Now you have your step-by-step plan to solve the problem. For more complex problems, professor Evans notes, “Consider systematically how a human solves the problem.” That is, forget about how your code might solve the problem for a moment, and think about how you would solve it as a human. This can help you see the steps more clearly.

3. Carry out the plan (Solve the problem!)

Hand, Rubik, Cube, Puzzle, Game, Rubik Cube

The next step in the problem-solving strategy is to solve the problem. Using your pseudocode as your guide, write out your actual code.

Professor Evans suggests focusing on a simple, mechanical solution. The easier and simpler your solution is, the more likely you can program it correctly.

Taking our pseudocode, we could now write this:

Professor Evans adds, remember not to prematurely optimize. That is, you might be tempted to start saying, “Wait, I’m doing this and it’s going to be inefficient code!”

First, just get out your simple, mechanical solution.

What if you can’t solve the entire problem? What if there's a part of it you still don't know how to solve?

Colt Steele gives great advice here: If you can’t solve part of the problem, ignore that hard part that’s tripping you up. Instead, focus on everything else that you can start writing.

Temporarily ignore that difficult part of the problem you don’t quite understand and write out the other parts. Once this is done, come back to the harder part.

This allows you to get at least some of the problem finished. And often, you’ll realize how to tackle that harder part of the problem once you come back to it.

Step 4: Look back over what you've done.

Once your solution is working, take the time to reflect on it and figure out how to make improvements. This might be the time you refactor your solution into a more efficient one.

As you look at your work, here are some questions Colt Steele suggests you ask yourself to figure out how you can improve your solution:

One way we might refactor our problem to make our code more concise: removing our variable and using an implicit return:

With step 4, your problem might never feel finished. Even great developers still write code that they later look at and want to change. These are guiding questions that can help you.

If you still have time in an interview, you can go through this step and make your solution better. If you are coding on your own, take the time to go over these steps.

When I’m practicing coding on my own, I almost always look at the solutions out there that are more elegant or effective than what I’ve come up with.

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve gone over the four-step problem-solving strategy for solving coding problems.

Let's review them here:

Practicing this problem-solving method has immensely helped me in my technical interviews and in my job as a developer. If you don't feel confident when it comes to solving coding problems, just remember that problem-solving is a skill that anyone can get better at with time and practice.

If you enjoyed this post, join my coding club , where we tackle coding challenges together every Sunday and support each other as we learn new technologies.

If you have feedback or questions on this post, feel free to tweet me @madisonkanna ..

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How To Approach A Coding Problem ?

Solving a DSA (Data Structures and Algorithms) Problem is quite tough. In This article, we help you not only solve the problem but actually understand it, It’s not about just solving a problem it’s about understanding the problem. we will help to solve DSA problems on websites like Leetcode, CodeChef, Codeforces, and Geeksforgeeks. the importance of solving a problem is not just limited to job interviews or solve problems on online platform, its about develop a problem solving abilities which is make your prefrontal cortex strong, sharp and prepared it to solve complex problem in future, not only DSA problems also in life.

These steps you need to follow while solving a problem:

– Understand the question, read it 2-3 times. – Take an estimate of the required complexity. – find, edge cases based on the constraints. – find a brute-force solution. ensure it will pass. – Optimize code, ensure, and repeat this step. – Dry-run your solution(pen& paper) on the test cases and edge cases. – Code it and test it with the test cases and edge cases. – Submit solution. Debug it and fix it, if the solution does not work.

Understand The Question

firstly read it 2-3 times, It doesn’t matter if you have seen the question in the past or not, read the question several times and understand it completely. Now, think about the question and analyze it carefully. Sometimes we read a few lines and assume the rest of the things on our own but a slight change in your question can change a lot of things in your code so be careful about that. Now take a paper and write down everything. What is given (input) and what you need to find out (output)? While going through the problem you need to ask a few questions yourself…

                Estimate of the required complexity

Look at the constraints and time limit. This should give you a rough idea of the expected time and space complexity. Use this step to reject the solutions that will not pass the limits. With some practice, you will be able to get an estimate within seconds of glancing at the constraints and limits.

              Find, edge cases 

In most problems, you would be provided with sample input and output with which you can test your solution. These tests would most likely not contain the edge cases. Edge cases are the boundary cases that might need additional handling. Before jumping on to any solution, write down the edge cases that your solution should work on. When you try to understand the problem take some sample inputs and try to analyze the output. Taking some sample inputs will help you to understand the problem in a better way. You will also get clarity that how many cases your code can handle and what all can be the possible output or output range.


0 <= T <= 100

1 <= N <= 1000

-1000 <= value of element <= 1000

Find a brute-force Solution

A brute-force solution for a DSA (Data Structure and Algorithm) problem involves exhaustively checking all possible solutions until the correct one is found. This method is typically very time-consuming and not efficient, but can be useful for small-scale problems or as a way to verify the correctness of a more optimized solution. One example of a problem that could be solved using a brute-force approach is finding the shortest path in a graph. The algorithm would check every possible path until the shortest one is found.

Break Down The Problem

When you see a coding question that is complex or big, instead of being afraid and getting confused that how to solve that question, break down the problem into smaller chunks and then try to solve each part of the problem. Below are some steps you should follow in order to solve the complex coding questions… 

Optimize your Code

Always try to improve your code. Look back, analyze it once again and try to find a better or alternate solution. We have mentioned earlier that you should always try to write the right amount of good code so always look for the alternate solution which is more efficient than the previous one. Writing the correct solution to your problem is not the final thing you should do. Explore the problem completely with all possible solutions and then write down the most efficient or optimized solution for your code. So once you are done with writing the solution for your code below are some questions you should ask yourself. 

Optimizing a solution in DSA (Data Structure and Algorithm) refers to improving the efficiency of an algorithm by reducing the time and/or space complexity. This can be done by using techniques such as dynamic programming, greedy algorithms, divide and conquer, backtracking, or using more efficient data structures.

It’s important to note that the optimization process is not always straightforward and it can be highly dependent on the specific problem and constraints. The optimization process usually starts with a brute force approach, and then various techniques will be applied to make the algorithm more efficient. The optimization process will often require a trade-off between time and space complexity.

Also, measuring and analyzing the performance of the algorithm is an essential step in the optimization process. The use of mathematical notation and analysis tools like Big O notation and complexity analysis, can help to understand the performance of an algorithm and decide which one is the best.

Below is the alternate solution for the same problem of the array which returns even numbers… 

          Dry-run your solution

Dry-running a solution on test cases and edge cases involves manually going through the steps of the algorithm with sample inputs and verifying that the output is correct. This process can help to identify any bugs or errors in the code, as well as ensure that the algorithm is correctly handling all possible inputs, including edge cases.

When dry-running your solution, it’s important to consider both the expected test cases and any unexpected edge cases that may arise. Edge cases are inputs that are at the boundaries of the problem’s constraints, for example, the maximum or minimum values.

To dry-run the solution, you will need to:

             Code & Test it On Edge Cases

After dry-running your solution and verifying that it is right, the next step is to code it and test it using the test cases and edge cases.

To code the solution, you will need to:

It’s also a good practice to test the code with additional test cases and edge cases, to further ensure the correctness and robustness of the solution.

Once the code has been tested and all the bugs have been fixed, you can submit it.

 Submit solution

After coding and testing the solution on the sample test cases, the next step is to submit it, usually to a platform for review or for a contest.

The submission process can depending on the platform, but basically it involves submitting the code and any necessary documentation. After the submission, the solution is usually reviewed by other participants or judges, and feedback is provided on whether the solution is correct or if there are any errors. If the solution is wrong or does not work as expected, the next step is to debug and fix it. Debugging is the process of identifying and resolving errors in the code. This can involve using tools such as a debugger, print statements, or logging to find the source of the problem.

Once the error has been identified, the next step is to fix it. This can involve making changes to the code, data structures, or algorithms used. Once the changes have been made, it’s important to test the solution again to ensure that the error has been resolved and that the solution is correct.

If the solution is correct, you can submit it again or move on to other problems.

It’s important to note that the debugging and fixing process can be an iterative one and it may take several iterations to get the solution working correctly.

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solving problems programming

Aug 1, 2017


10 Steps to Solving a Programming Problem

Tips for new developers staring at a blank screen, unsure of where to start.

Some of the feedback I hear from new developers working on a programming problem revolves around uncertainty of where to start. You understand the problem, the logic, basics of the syntax, etc. If you see someone else’s code or have someone to guide you, you can follow along. But maybe you feel uncertain about doing it yourself and have trouble turning your thoughts into code at first even though you understand the syntax or logic. Here’s my process and some tips to tackling a sample problem that hopefully some of you may find helpful in your journey.

1. Read the problem at least three times (or however many makes you feel comfortable)

You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand. There is a difference between the problem and the problem you think you are solving. It’s easy to start reading the first few lines in a problem and assume the rest of it because it’s similar to something you’ve seen in the past. If you are making even a popular game like Hangman, be sure to read through any rules even if you’ve played it before. I once was asked to make a game like Hangman that I realized was “Evil Hangman” only after I read through the instructions (it was a trick!).

Sometimes I’ll even try explaining the problem to a friend and see if her understanding of my explanation matches the problem I am tasked with. You don’t want to find out halfway through that you misunderstood the problem. Taking extra time in the beginning is worth it. The better you understand the problem, the easier it will be to solve it.

Let’s pretend we are creating a simple function selectEvenNumbers that will take in an array of numbers and return an array evenNumbers of only even numbers. If there are no even numbers, return the empty array evenNumbers .

Here are some questions that run through my mind:

2. Work through the problem manually with at least three sets of sample data

Take out a piece of paper and work through the problem manually. Think of at least three sets of sample data you can use. Consider corner and edge cases as well.

Corner case : a problem or situation that occurs outside of normal operating parameters, specifically when multiple environmental variables or conditions are simultaneously at extreme levels, even though each parameter is within the specified range for that parameter. Edge case : problem or situation that occurs only at an extreme (maximum or minimum) operating parameter

For example, below are some sets of sample data to use:

When you are first starting out, it is easy to gloss over the steps. Because your brain may already be familiar with even numbers, you may just look at a sample set of data and pull out numbers like 2 , 4 , 6 and so forth in the array without fully being aware of each and every step your brain is taking to solve it. If this is challenging, try using large sets of data as it will override your brain’s ability to naturally solve the problem just by looking at it. That helps you work through the real algorithm.

Let’s go through the first array [1]

Let’s go through the array [1, 2]

I go through this a few more times. Notice how the steps I wrote down for [1] varies slightly from [1, 2] . That is why I try to go through a couple of different sets. I have some sets with just one element, some with floats instead of just integers, some with multiple digits in an element, and some with negatives just to be safe.

3. Simplify and optimize your steps

Look for patterns and see if there’s anything you can generalize. See if you can reduce any steps or if you are repeating any steps.

This approach may remind you of Mathematical Induction in that you:

4. Write pseudocode

Even after you’ve worked out general steps, writing out pseudocode that you can translate into code will help with defining the structure of your code and make coding a lot easier. Write pseudocode line by line. You can do this either on paper or as comments in your code editor. If you’re starting out and find blank screens to be daunting or distracting, I recommend doing it on paper.

Pseudocode generally does not actually have specific rules in particular but sometimes, I might end up including some syntax from a language just because I am familiar enough with an aspect of the programming language. Don’t get caught up with the syntax. Focus on the logic and steps.

For our problem, there are many different ways to do this. For example, you can use filter but for the sake of keeping this example as easy to follow along as possible, we will use a basic for loop for now (but we will use filter later when we refactor our code).

Here is an example of pseudocode that has more words:

Here is an example of pseudocode that has fewer words:

Either way is fine as long as you are writing it out line-by-line and understand the logic on each line.

Refer back to the problem to make sure you are on track.

5. Translate pseudocode into code and debug

When you have your pseudocode ready, translate each line into real code in the language you are working on. We will use JavaScript for this example.

If you wrote it out on paper, type this up as comments in your code editor. Then replace each line in your pseudocode.

Then I call the function and give it some sample sets of data we used earlier. I use them to see if my code returns the results I want. You can also write tests to check if the actual output is equal to the expected output.

I generally use console.log() after each variable or line or so. This helps me check if the values and code are behaving as expected before I move on . By doing this, I catch any issues before I get too far. Below is an example of what values I would check when I am first starting out. I do this throughout my code as I type it out.

After working though each line of my pseudocode, below is what we end up with. // is what the line was in pseudocode. Text that is bolded is the actual code in JavaScript.

I get rid of the pseudocode to avoid confusion.

Sometimes new developers will get hung up with the syntax that it becomes difficult to move forward. Remember that syntax will come more naturally over time and there is no shame in referencing material for the correct syntax later on when coding.

6. Simplify and optimize your code

You’ve probably noticed by now that simplifying and optimizing are recurring themes.

“Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.” — Edsger W. Dijkstra, Dutch computer scientist and early pioneer in many research areas of computing science

In this example, one way of optimizing it would be to filter out items from an array by returning a new array using filter . This way, we don’t have to define another variable evenNumbers because filter will return a new array with copies of elements that match the filter. This will not change the original array. We also don’t need to use a for loop with this approach. filter will go through each item, return either true , to have that element in the array, or false to skip it.

Simplifying and optimizing your code may require you to iterate a few times, identifying ways to further simplify and optimize code.

Here are some questions to keep in mind:

“Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” — Gerald Jay Sussman and Hal Abelson, Authors of “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”

This step really should be throughout the process. Debugging throughout will help you catch any syntax errors or gaps in logic sooner rather than later. Take advantage of your Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and debugger. When I encounter bugs, I trace the code line-by-line to see if there was anything that did not go as expected. Here are some techniques I use:

“The most effective debugging tool is still careful thought, coupled with judiciously placed print statements.” — Brian W. Kernighan, Computer Science Professor at Princeton University

8. Write useful comments

You may not always remember what every single line meant a month later. And someone else working on your code may not know either. That’s why it’s important to write useful comments to avoid problems and save time later on if you need to come back to it.

Stay away from comments such as:

// This is an array. Iterate through it.

// This is a variable

I try to write brief, high-level comments that help me understand what’s going on if it is not obvious. This comes in handy when I am working on more complex problems. It helps understand what a particular function is doing and why. Through the use of clear variable names, function names, and comments, you (and others) should be able to understand:

9. Get feedback through code reviews

Get feedback from your teammates, professors, and other developers. Check out Stack Overflow . See how others tackled the problem and learn from them. There are sometimes several ways to approach a problem. Find out what they are and you’ll get better and quicker at coming up with them yourself.

“No matter how slow you are writing clean code, you will always be slower if you make a mess.” — Uncle Bob Martin, Software Engineer and Co-author of the Agile Manifesto

10. Practice, practice, practice

Even experienced developers are always practicing and learning. If you get helpful feedback, implement it. Redo a problem or do similar problems. Keep pushing yourself. With each problem you solve, the better a developer you become. Celebrate each success and be sure to remember how far you’ve come. Remember that programming, like with anything, comes easier and more naturally with time.

“Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.” — Michael Josephson, Founder of Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics

Thanks Gavin Stark

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6 Ways to Improve Your Programming Problem Solving

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Software development is, at its core, all about problem solving.

Think about it.

First, developers need to find a problem they can solve with software. Then, they have to figure out how humans solve that problem. And then, they have to find a way to effectively translate both the problem and the solution into code that a computer can use to solve the problem as well as (or better than) a person.

And then there are all the problems along the way: Working with teams, finding and fixing bugs, meeting delivery deadlines.

Engineers use problem solving skills constantly .

Because of that, if you want to become a better developer, one place to start might be becoming a better problem solver. But that’s easier said than done, and requires a deep understanding of what problem solving is, why it matters, and what it actually takes to improve those skills.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started.

What Is Problem Solving, and Why Does It Matter?

Have you ever heard this famous Steve Jobs quote?

“Everyone in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you to think.”

“Everyone in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you to think.”

Jobs was right. Software development is as much about “soft skills” like critical thinking, communication, and problem solving as it is about “hard skills” like writing code.

And so, in the context of software development, problem solving can mean a few different things:

There’s only one thing that’s true no matter what problem solving looks like on a given day: It’s an integral part of every step of the software development process.

Why Should Engineers Work On Problem Solving Skills?

Just like any other skill, problem solving takes practice to apply and master.

Many developers think that becoming a better problem solver means being able to solve more problems, faster. But that’s not true — it means being able to find the best solution to a problem, and then put that solution in place.

Learning to do that is a great way to become a better developer overall. And while soft skills can be more difficult to learn and improve upon than hard skills, there are still some tips and tricks that can help you get better at problem solving specifically.

6 Ways to Get Better at Problem Solving

As you’ll see from these learning tools, getting better at problem solving is mostly like getting better at any other skill for work: You need to practice. A lot. And then practice some more.

6 Ways to Get Better at Problem Solving

Solve a Lot of Problems on a Lot of Different Platforms

Step one? Solve as many problems as you can, but try to focus on different types of problems on different platforms.

Here’s why this is so beneficial: It prevents you from getting comfortable with one problem solving method or framework. As we already know, in the world of software development, there is definitely no one-size-fits-all solution for the problems we encounter.

When you regularly practice solving different types of problems in different platforms, it reinforces the fact that you can’t always rely on the same technique to solve every problem. It forces you to learn to be flexible, and to choose the best tool or framework for each job.

Solve Problems in Contexts Other Than Work

Since problem solving is a skill that requires practice, you can (and should) work on it even outside of work hours.

This doesn’t need to be a chore — there are a lot of fun ways to practice problem solving, like by doing math or logic puzzles, solving crosswords, or playing a game like chess. Even many video games can help work on problem solving skills.

There are also many opportunities to practice problem solving just as you live your life from day to day. Broke something around the house? Use your problem solving skills to DIY a fix. Need to solve a conflict with a friend or a family member? You guessed it — time to practice problem solving.

Learn From Past Solutions, and Apply Them to New Problems

As you keep practicing problem solving as much as possible, you’ll start to see patterns emerge in the problems you solve. You’ll build up a sort of toolkit filled with the solutions you’ve found and used in the past, and you’ll be able to apply those to solving new problems.

This part is just as important as finding the solutions in the first place, because the more you practice your growing problem solving skills, the more natural it will become to apply the right solutions to different types of problems, making you able to solve new problems more and more quickly, while still using the best possible solves.

Ask Others for Help and Feedback

Sometimes, finding the best solution to a problem just requires a fresh, new set of eyes. That’s why it’s important to treat growing your problem solving skills not as a totally solo venture, but as a team endeavor where everyone at your organization can support each other and help each other get better.

If you’re stuck on a specific problem, ask for help. Someone else might have a method or framework you aren’t familiar with, that they can teach you. You can then apply that to more problems down the road.

And if you’ve come up with a solve for a problem, ask others for feedback. They might be able to help you refine or further improve your framework, making it even better.

Train the Problem Solving Part of Your Mind

How do you keep muscles from growing weaker over time? You keep exercising them.

The same goes for your brain, and especially for different knowledge-base skills, like problem solving. You’ll stay at the top of your brain if you keep “working out,” or practicing problem solving all the time.

A good move for a developer who wants to invest in their problem solving skills is scheduling time every week (or even every day) to consciously practice problem solving. Remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean solving work problems. You could commit to doing a tricky logic puzzle every day on your lunch break, for example. The important thing is to get in the practice, no matter how that looks.

Practice Other Skills Related to Problem Solving

Problem solving is an important skill on its own. But there are other necessary skills developers need to support their problem solving abilities, and those skills all take practice, too.

Flexibility. Critical thinking. Communication. Teamwork. Focusing on building and practicing all these skills will help you improve your problem solving.

Problem solving is one of the most necessary skills for developers to have. With time, practice, and dedication, they can improve it, constantly, and keep becoming better.

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solving problems programming

dewayne sewell

Ive learnt the skill of problem solving is like a muscle, where it is important to keep exercising it to stay strong. It is important to be aware of the soft skills necessary for effective problem solving also, such as communication, critical thinking, team working that can leverage your technical hard skills to find a solution faster/more effective. Two things I will aim to do is; 1. To solve problems on different platforms so I don’t get too comfortable on only one and stagnate. This not only challenges the brain to see things from a new perspective, but to start the habit of continuous learning and skill building. 2. Reach out to others for help / discuss problems and my solutions for feedback and advice and sharing ideas.

Pakize Bozkurt

Problem solving skills is a crucial thing to make easier or better your life. In fact as a human being we do it in every day life. I mean, we have to do it for living. There are many ways to how to do it. The best way is we should ask right questions. First of all, we should ask some questions, such as; \' Are we aware of the problem?, Are we clarify the problem? Do we go into problem rational? Do we have reasons? or Do we have evidences? Do we do check them out? etc. I am from Philosophy teacher background. I like solving problem whatever in my work or daily life. Secondly, we should have more perspectives . Although our brain is lazy, it is always in a starvation for knowledge.For this there are many enjoyable things to do it. I highly recommend to read book every day which kind of you like it and playing game or solving puzzle. I love solving Sudoku, puzzle and reading book or article. Finally, solving problem is our invatiable needed. Having flexibility, critical thinking, communication and teamwork are easy way to improve us to how we can do our work better and good life. Massive thank for this amazing article!

I read this amazing article. Normally, everyone knows that but we dont use most of time this informations. Which one is the best way to use? Really it does not matter, every one is like a gold opinion. We can use this ideas for the daily life. I have already used that learn from past solution and ask to someone who knows very well. This is so helpful for me. Sometimes google is the best option for ask to someone. Google can be the best teacher for us as well. Soft skills like a team work or solving problem and critical thinking can be important than typing code. We can learn typing code but we can not learn critical thinking and solving problems from google very well. Thank you for this article.

Ipsa iure sed rerum

Excepturi quo volupt

Thanks for this !

Fahil kiima

Thanks a lot for the ideas on problem solving,I really had a problem with that and now going to use what you\'ve informed us about to better my problem solving skills. Thanks.

Alan Codinho

Nice overview

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Before Semicolon

Before Semicolon

Elson Correia

Mar 18, 2021


How to Solve any Programming Problem

A simple guide on how to think like a programmer.

As humans, we solve problems all the time and as developers, it is no different. Problem-solving-focused courses are not very popular or common and a lot of developers tend to focus on learning tools, languages, and frameworks rather than learning how to think like a problem solver, or a programmer.

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I am a UI Engineer who loves building products and sharing ideas. I write about product and web development, career insights and programming in general. 😊

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solving problems programming

Towards Data Science

Kurtis Pykes

Apr 12, 2022


Hands-on Tutorial: How To Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills As A Programmer

The technical part is the easiest.

Programming is ultimately problem-solving. We only apply the programming language to express how we’ve thought about a problem and the approach we’re using to solve it.

The worst thing you could do is to start chipping away at the problem once it’s presented. This is where most newbie programmers get stuck and give up. Think back to school days when you had to do written assessments. Usually, the paper [or invigilator] would tell you how much time you have for planning and how much should be set aside for writing. It’s the same thing with programming.

Every problem is a coat for a series of smaller problems that have to be tackled. The technical part is always the easiest once you’ve clearly devised a clear plan of attack for how to solve the problem.

“ If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe. ” — Abraham Lincoln.

To demonstrate this we’re going to work through a coding problem together. Coding problems are a good way to develop your ability to think through programs. The more exposure you get to different types of problems will significantly improve your ability to problem-solve. Thus, it’s important you’re constantly putting yourself in situations to tackle new problems — even if it’s just for 15–30 minutes a day.

Problem statement: The Alphabet Rangoli

Note : This challenge was taken from HackerRank .

You are given an integer, N. Your task is to print an alphabet rangoli of size N. (Rangoli is a form of Indian folk art based on the creation of patterns.)

Different sizes of alphabet rangoli are shown below:

The center of the rangoli has the first alphabet letter a, and the boundary has the alphabet letter (in alphabetical order).

The input to the function is a single line containing size , which is the size of the rangoli. Your function should return a string made up of each of the lines of the rangoli separated by a newline character (\n).

#Step 1 — Take time to understand the problem

The first step to solving any problem is to understand the problem being solved. This means you’re able to articulate the problem fully in your own words.

Don’t get disheartened if you can’t, it’s part of the process of understanding. When you come across something you can’t articulate clearly then it means there's a gap in your understanding. If you want to be able to solve the problem then you need to fill the gap.

This means you must ask questions.

When working on a problem alone then you have to ask yourself more questions to flesh out what exactly it is you don’t understand — you could also use Google to get a better idea of what exactly it is you’re not understanding about the specific part. If you’re working with a team or consulting someone then this is your chance to ask them questions to fill the voids in your understanding.

The main gist is that you’ve got to take your time to fully understand the problem you have. Doing this will benefit you in the long run and significantly simplify the problem-solving process.


Given our alphabet rangoli problem, the first thing we’ve got to do is understand what the problem we’re trying to solve is. Here’s how I’ve articulated it in my own words.

Given an input to dictate the size, we are to create a function that returns an alphabet rangoli which is an art form from Indian folk that is based on the creation of patterns.

Notice that I clearly described what we expect to go into the function and what is expected to come out. This is because, at a high level, I like to think of problem-solving as taking a certain input and transforming it into a certain output. At the moment, the mapping function is a black box but our next step is to deconstruct what’s going on in the black box.

Another thing I like to do at this step is to draw my own examples with some custom inputs to better understand what would happen. For example, we know this is an alphabet rangoli and the alphabet is only 26 letters, but what would happen if a size greater than 26 was passed? Fortunately, this question was answered for us in the brief but if it wasn’t we’d have to figure out what could happen by asking questions.

Note : remember Python is slicing doesn’t take into account the end number so passing 27 would take the first 26 letters.

Here is an example of my drawing:

I’d draw a few of these to better reinforce my understanding.

#Step 2 — Break the problem down

Every problem is made up of a number of small problems. Breaking a larger problem down into smaller problems to be solved makes the greater less daunting to be approached.

All that needs to be done when the smaller problems are solved is that they need to be joined together. This would result in the solution of the greater problem if you carefully think through the inputs and output at each step.

In essence, what I’m saying is that you should solve the problem on paper or whiteboard before you attempt to solve it with code. Be sure to write out the steps in detail and clearly understand what’s happening.

I solved the rangoli problem on paper first by working through the facts of what I’ve designed in the example above. When I had clarity about the facts, I organized them into steps as follows:

Now that I’ve got the facts I can design the steps.

I’ve broken down the problem into 7 smaller problems without using any technical terms. The next step is to figure out how you would technically implement each step.

This means it’s possible to still go deeper into solving this problem because I haven’t gone into much detail. For example, I’ve just written ‘ draw the middle line. ’ How am I going to draw the middle line? I didn’t go this much deeper into this solution since I’ve solved problems like this before so I have a clear idea of how to draw the middle line (i.e. to draw the middle line you have to join the reverse of the first n letters to the first n letters (not including a) by a “-” symbol.

If you’re unsure how to do certain steps when you’ve written it out like this then don’t be afraid of taking extra time to further break down how each step will be implemented with pseudocode.

#Step 3 — Execution

Now you’ve solved the problem on paper. All you have to do is implement the same solution you’ve written on paper but translate it into code.

This is where your knowledge of your programming language comes into play. Depending on your environment, you can Google ways to do certain things for example, how to reverse a string or how to take the first n letters of a string.

Since you’ve already got a structure for how to solve the problem, you don’t have to work through the problem from steps 1–7. Start with the easiest steps to get some quick wins under your belt.

When you’ve got your wins then come back to the parts of the problem you find more challenging. Once you’ve solved all of these problems then put it together and you’ve got your solution.

Here’s how I solved smaller parts of the problem:

To do step 5 I broke it down into a smaller problem. I created a program and used my name to get the left side and right side.

Now all I have to do is join the values together by “-” and center the middle value (n-i). Ensure the line is the same length as the middle line with the other values made up with “-”.

The next step is to translate this solution into the code for our problem:

Step 7 is to put it all together which means passing a value to it. Let’s pass a size of 4 to our function to see if it matches the pattern we drew above.

problem solved.

#Step 4 — Reflect

There are several ways to solve a problem; Nothing says my current solution to the problem is the best way to solve it. This means now is a good time to reflect on how we went about solving the problem and think about ways you could make your solution more efficient.

One thing I realized immediately is that I didn’t have to write out the whole alphabet manually. I could have simply imported the string module and called ascii_lowercase .

I’d usually spend this time looking at other people's solutions to see how they achieved the same thing.

Programming requires you to think. Part of the thinking process is decomposing problems into smaller modules to make them easier to solve. The four steps to solving a problem are:

  • Understand the problem
  • Break down the problem

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Problem Solving

Solving problems is the core of computer science. Programmers must first understand how a human solves a problem, then understand how to translate this "algorithm" into something a computer can do, and finally how to "write" the specific syntax (required by a computer) to get the job done. It is sometimes the case that a machine will solve a problem in a completely different way than a human.

Computer Programmers are problem solvers. In order to solve a problem on a computer you must:

Know how to represent the information (data) describing the problem.

Determine the steps to transform the information from one representation into another.

Information Representation

A computer, at heart, is really dumb. It can only really know about a few things... numbers, characters, booleans, and lists (called arrays) of these items. (See Data Types). Everything else must be "approximated" by combinations of these data types.

A good programmer will "encode" all the "facts" necessary to represent a problem in variables (See Variables). Further, there are "good ways" and "bad ways" to encode information. Good ways allow the computer to easily "compute" new information.

An algorithm (see Algorithm) is a set of specific steps to solve a problem. Think of it this way: if you were to tell your 3 year old neice to play your favorite song on the piano (assuming the neice has never played a piano), you would have to tell her where the piano was, and how to sit on the bench, and how to open the cover, and which keys to press, and which order to press them in, etc, etc, etc.

The core of what good programmers do is being able to define the steps necessary to accomplish a goal. Unfortunately, a computer, only knows a very restricted and limited set of possible steps. For example a computer can add two numbers. But if you want to find the average of two numbers, this is beyond the basic capabilities of a computer. To find the average, you must:

  • First: Add the two numbers and save this result in a variable
  • Then: Divide this new number the number two, and save this result in a variable.
  • Finally: provide this number to the rest of the program (or print it for the user).

We "compute" all the time. Computing is the act of solving problems (or coming up with a plan to solve problems) in an organized manner. We don't need computers to "compute". We can use our own brain.

Encapsulation and Abstraction and Complexity Hiding

Computer scientists like to use the fancy word "Encapsulation" to show how smart we are. This is just a term for things we do as humans every day. It is combined with another fancy term: "Abstraction".

Abstraction is the idea of "ignoring the details". For example, a forest is really a vastly complex ecosystem containing trees, animals, water paths, etc, etc, etc. But to a computer scientist (and to a normal person), its just "a forest".

For example, if your professor needs a cup of coffee, and asks you the single item: "Get me a cup of coffee", he has used both encapsulation and abstraction. The number of steps required to actually get the coffee are enumerable. Including, getting up, walking down the hall, getting in your car, driving to a coffee stand, paying for the coffee, etc, etc, etc. Further, the idea of what a cup of coffee is, is abstract. Do you bring a mug of coffee, or a Styrofoam cup? Is it caffeinated or not? Is it freshly brewed or from concentrate? Does it come from Africa or America?

All of this information is TOO MUCH and we would quickly be unable to funciton if we had to remember all of these details. Thus we "abstract away" the details and only remember the few important items.

This brings us to the idea of "Complexity Hiding". Complexity hiding is the idea that most of the times details don't matter. In a computer program, as simple an idea as drawing a square on the screen involves hundreds (if not thousands) of (low level) computer instructions. Again, a person couldn't possible create interesting programs if every time they wanted to do something, they had to re-write (correctly) every one of those instructions. By "ecapsulating" what is meant by "draw square" and "reusing" this operation over and over again, we make programming tractable.


The idea behind encapsulation is to store the information necessary to a particular idea in a set of variables associated with a single "object". We then create functions to manipulate this object, regardless of what the actual data is. From that point on, we treat the idea from a "high level" rather than worry about all the parts (data) and actions (functions) necessary to represent the object in a computer.

Brute Force

Brute force is a technique for solving problems that relies on a computers speed (how fast it can repeat steps) to solve a problem. For example, if you wanted to know how many times the number 8 goes into the number 100, you could do the following:

Of course this is a silly way for a computer (or a human) to solve this problem. The real way we would do it is:

When in doubt, you can often use "brute force" to solve a problem, but it often saves time (at least computer time) to think about the problem and solve it in an elegant manner.


  1. Solving Programming Problems

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  2. Steps to develop problem-solving skills

    solving problems programming

  3. How to improve programming problem-solving skills

    solving problems programming

  4. 1 introduction to problem solving and programming

    solving problems programming

  5. Six Steps to Solving a Programming Problem Infographic

    solving problems programming

  6. 6 Ways to Improve Your Programming Problem Solving

    solving problems programming


  1. Programming for Problem Solving

  2. Problem Solving

  3. Multiple Solutions to the Same Problem

  4. Problem Solving Techniques

  5. solve a algorithm

  6. Integer programming Problem Video lecture 20


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