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Everything is done wrong

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Everything in software is done wrong. This is because, by the time you know how to do it right, you've already done it. The only exception is when you do the same thing over and over - and that's a DRY violation, and so wrong by definition.
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Dynamic Programming Example: Nim

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Inspired by Tom Morley's Combinatorial Games course, I've whipped up a tiny little solver for one of the combinatorial games. This might be a useful case study for anyone curious about the Dynamic Programming paradigm for algorithm design.

The code is up at github...
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How to think about finding primes

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Finding primes is a common exercise in programming, and for good reason: it's a good exercise that combines mathematical thinking with programmatic thinking. The exercise comes in various forms, most commonly "find the nth prime" or "find the first n primes". Also common is "find all primes less than n". It turns...
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++ considered hazardous

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The postincrement (++) and postdecrement (--) operators (hereafter called "postinc" and "postdec") are a perennial source of befucklement for new and intermediate Java programmers. In particular, people get snagged on complex exp...
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The Programmer's Bookshelf

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Following is a list of some titles that I've found beautiful or useful or both. I'm not gong to say much about them here, but they're all likely to give you interesting things to think about.

  • Introduction to Graph Theory (Richard Trudeau)
  • The Art of Computer Programming (Donald E. Knuth)
  • ...
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"Write a code" considered painful

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Pet peeve time: "code" in the software sense is a mass noun, not a collective noun. It has no plural. You don't eat "an oatmeal" or several "oatmeals", you eat oatmeal. In the same way, you don't write "a code" or "codes", you write code. If you mean a unified body of code that can be run...
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dd considered terrifying

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If you don't feel a little twinge of fear any time you start typing an invocation of dd, you should probably not have admin access to anything at all, including your refrigerator. dd is the primal Elder Sorcery of unix. It is absolutely terrifying in the raw power that it commands, and the utter disregard it shows for safety. Its very syntax...
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Switch Statements in Java

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It has come to my attention, both here on DIC and in the real world, that many programmers do not actually know that there is a difference between a switch statement and a string of if-else clauses. This seems worthy of correction. It is simply not the case.

Before I

Here is a simple java class that has equivalent code executed three ways - as...
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Death Marches Considered Harmful

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Some Lessons Learned...
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My First Scala "Hulk Smash" moment

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Scala has tuples. Great, I like tuples. Immutable sequences, quite handy.
Here's one:
scala> val triple = (1,2,3)triple: (Int, Int, Int) = (1,2,3)

Cool. So how do I get a value out of one of these guys? Like this:

scala> triple._1res6: Int = 1

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April 2014

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