coding courses after graduation

Learn Data Structures and Algorithms to Improve Your Programming Skills

Introduction

It is very important to learn Data structures and Algorithms to have a seamless programming journey and to understand the nuances of different programming languages.

A lot of novices and also experienced programmers do not prefer to learn Data Structures and Algorithms because it’s pretty complex and they think that there is no use of all the above stuff in real life. DSA is a way of gathering and organizing data in such a way that we can perform operations on these data in an effective way. It is about selecting data storage elements based on access and processing requirements, for better organization and storage.

An algorithm is a definite set of instructions or logic, written in order, to attain a certain predefined task. The algorithm is not the complete code or program, it is just the core logic(solution) of a problem, which can be conveyed either as an informal high-level description as pseudocode or using a flowchart.

Data structures and algorithms have a key role in the application, from designing software to hiring in an organization. Significant data structures like Arrays, Lists, Hash Tables, Trees, and Graphs alongside algorithms help the employee further in solving problems efficiently and if you appear for any job interview the interviewer would be interested in knowing your application of DSA to solve certain problems.

Many get skeptical that even though they learn DSA from scratch their command over them isn’t promising enough, so here are a few ways you can get confident with DSA. Below are the following ways:

1. Solve Problems Logically

To improve programming skills means to solve problems. A lot of candidates get too hung up on the intricacies and syntax of a specific programming language. Although it’s crucial to know various tricks you can do using a programming language, it’s better if you could actually solve a problem — even if it means doing it in the traditional way.

Let me explain this with the help of an anecdote:
Once a person went to his friend for a peer coding session. The friend had over 5+ years of programming experience. While the person was waiting for his friend to open his laptop and start, the friend neatly placed his notebook and pen on his table and they were no sign of a laptop. That day, they spent about 45 minutes understanding the logic before the friend pulled out his laptop and spent around 15 minutes coding. It was the person’s biggest programming breakthrough.

Solving a problem on paper is like sharpening your ax before cutting down a tree. It increases your programming intuition by a huge margin. The other things you can do to improve programming skills involve:

  • Picking out the important information in a problem statement to recognize the possible routes you can take, your constraints, and the end goal
  • Solving problems without using or thinking about code first
  • Understanding the situations in where your solution fails and its implications
  • Deliberately seek to solve problems every day

It’s pretty easy to fall into the habit of diving straight into code. Mostly such people usually can write the code if you tell them the answer to the problem, but they can’t come up with the actual solution themselves. The pen and paper process told previously has significantly helped many people. Solving problems on paper before writing code is a good habit and as you get better and it will help significantly reduce the time you spend solving problems.

2. Learn Data Structures & Algorithms

It’s easy to postpone things when you are self-taught. For example, I bet that you’ve avoided the dread to learn Data Structures & Algorithms (DSA) or learning data structures and algorithms in c++ or learning data structures and algorithms in python Guilty? That’s the case with all of us. All of us have done it, and some very experienced programmers argue a good case that learning or understanding DSA is not imperative to solve real-world problems. Plus, it’s complicated. Why would one want to complicate their life more than it already is?

Understand, I’m not saying that you cannot become a programmer if you don’t learn DSA from scratch. You can probably go a little far in your programming life but the truth is subjective and debatable. However, what goes unquestionable is that for becoming a BETTER programmer it is imperative to do a good python data structures and algorithms course or a  data structures and algorithms c++ course.

The reason is simple. DSA enhances your logic; it expands your intuitive logic muscle — if there exists such a thing. Look at it from the algorithm’s perspective. Algorithms are simply a set of steps that are followed to solve a specific problem. We all use algorithms in our day-to-day life too, for example instead of using the simple word ‘morning routine’, we describe it in a complex way, we say wake up, get up workout a little, brush your teeth, etc. 

The data structure perspective is also similar. This process simply describes how the inputs and outputs are going to be presented. Reiterating the aforementioned morning routine example, the early state of my toothbrush will affect how I will brush my teeth. The processing would be different if I had to find the bristles for the toothbrush myself and attach them to a wooden stick versus if I simply purchased the toothbrush from the local supermarket. The brief of data structures is that different formats of data demand a different type of processing.

You may decide to pay for a course to learn Data Structures & Algorithms, but AttainU has some very good teachers and courses that will help you achieve not just the skills of DSA but also how you will answer data structures and algorithms interview questions. It has many courses like data structures and algorithms course or a data structures and algorithms c++ course.

3. Write Pseudocode

If you have ever read a research paper about a machine learning algorithm, you must have come across pseudocode. In some sense, Pseudocode is a kind of programming language but its syntax is universal. Hence, all coding logic can be written in pseudocode and easily translated into another particular programming language.

Wikipedia describes pseudocode as

“a plain language description of the steps in an algorithm or another system”.

Basically, pseudocode is structured in a way that uses the structural conventions of a typical programming language but is intended to be read by humans and not by machines. It serves the purpose of detailing your thought process to others instead of to a computer. 

How to write pseudocode will be the first step in the process to start learning more about pseudocode.

Final Thoughts

Concentrating on things you can control is the key through which you can improve programming skills. You can only control how much effort you put into building your skills. Evaluate the current amount of effort that you are putting into becoming a better programmer and that would give you an idea as to why you are not succeeding. It also helps to make you understand where you’re struggling (i.e. is it syntax issues or logic) — this will give you a clearer signal of what you need to work on.

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