How to Solve Coding Problems
Solving coding problems can be challenging. Often, you may feel as if there is nothing you can do about it. Sure, you could always hire an expert, but where will you find one? And what happens when that expert isn’t available to help? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource at your fingertips anytime you face an issue? Here is an essential guide on how to approach your coding issues.
Understand the Problem
Take a few minutes to read the problem through before starting coding. Read it several times, and try to understand what it is asking for. It might help to write out a quick summary of the problem in your own words to make sure you know what is being asked.
The trick here is not to get too wrapped up in any details. This step aims to understand what the problem is asking for. Do not worry about how you are going to solve it yet.
Gather All Your Thoughts and Write Them Down
Now that you have a problem to solve, think about it. Write down every thought that comes to mind. Do not worry about making sense of them or filtering out ideas. Get everything onto paper. Alternatively, this is where you can think of reaching out to programming homework help.
Break the Problem Into Pieces
After gathering your thoughts, look at each one and break it down into smaller pieces. Do this until you can express each thought in a single sentence. You should now have a list of statements describing the overall problem and its parts.
Turn Your Statements Into Questions
Read through your list of statements and turn each statement into a question. If you find that your question has more than one part, break it into multiple questions. (For example, “Will this code work on all browsers?” becomes two questions: “Does the code work on Internet Explorer?” and “Does the code work on Firefox?”)
Consider Different Approaches
Afterward, consider different approaches for how you can solve these questions. These approaches come from your idea and knowledge assessment from the previous step. For example, if one of the ideas you had was to sort the input before processing further, then you know that you have at least one option for how you can solve this problem at your disposal.
There are generally two main types of approaches: brute-force and optimized. A brute-force approach uses an obvious method to get a solution quickly, even if it doesn’t scale well or isn’t particularly efficient. An optimized approach considers efficiency and scalability upfront.
Work Through Some Examples by Hand
Work out some small test cases for your problem by hand. Try simple examples that you can verify are correct. For example, when implementing a sorting algorithm, try it out on small lists of numbers, like [3, 2, 1]. When writing a function to compute whether a number is prime, try it on a few small numbers by hand.
It is essential when working through these examples that you don’t think about what answer you should get. Write down your input and the corresponding output to check against your actual implementation later.
Write Some Code
Writing a code is where things get tricky. This is because there are multiple ways to go about this step. You can start by thinking through some high-level approaches to the solution and then break it down into smaller steps as you go along.
Alternatively, start with smaller steps and build up from there. Neither approach is right or wrong. Each approach requires different skill sets or ways of thinking. You will have to figure out which approach works best for you — maybe even try both approaches out.
Run, Test and Debug
After writing your code, test your code carefully. Start with simple values: Does it work for small numbers you can calculate easily by hand? Then try longer inputs and make sure the results are correct. Moreover, error messages mean running the code in the debugger and step through it line by line. Use print statements to find what’s going wrong.
If your code doesn’t work at first, don’t give up! You can always write a new program from scratch or modify your existing code to solve the problem differently.
In summary, we believe that this method is an effective way to become more familiar with coding problems, reduce the time you spend on each one, and solve them faster.