Logical thinking is like the foundation of a sturdy building when it comes to programming. It's crucial because coding involves creating sets of instructions for a computer to follow, that are similar in a way to how people think, but are more descriptive and they tell exactly how to achieve a task from the start to the end.
Example: You want to go from point A to point B. You can't just tell the computer to go from A to B, you have to navigate it precisely by giving it step-by-step instructions to succeed - go 50 pixels to the left, then 100 to the bottom and 30 to the right.
Programming is essentially solving problems, by using logical thinking to break down big, complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. It allows you to analyze and understand the flow of your code, identify errors, and come up with efficient solutions. Without logical thinking, you might find yourself lost in a maze of code with no idea how to navigate through it.
The data structures are one of the core building blocks of programming, that you need to learn in order to be able to solve complex tasks. If you are not familiar with arrays, hashmaps, heaps, queues, etc. you won't know how to apply them when dealing with a problem. Logical thinking plays a significant role in choosing and implementing appropriate data structures. It helps in understanding the relationships between data elements and selecting the right structures to optimize operations like searching, sorting, and retrieval.
Logical thinking aids in understanding how the program flows from one statement to another. This understanding is crucial for writing code that not only works but is also easy to maintain and modify. Nobody likes complex, unreadable, and unmaintainable code. With logical thinking, you create code that is readable and follows a clear and coherent structure.
You can't build a scalable application without abstractions. This ability to break down a problem into smaller, more manageable parts is crucial for designing modular and maintainable code. Logical thinking allows you to abstract complex problems into simpler components.
Logical thinking helps you recognize patterns within problems and solutions. This skill becomes super valuable when you face a similar problem in the future. Having the ability to recognize that you've already solved this problem once, will help you solve the same/similar problem faster than the previous time. Moreover, you might have the source code of the previous task from where you can simply copy/paste and adjust the code to properly suit your new application.
There are quite a few ways of building and improving your logical thinking. Getting better at it isn't a quick fix and it takes time and patience. If you're working on it, remember that every step forward counts. A lot of programmers go through this thing called impostor syndrome, where you doubt your skills and wonder if you're really making progress. Don't let those thoughts get to you. Keep going, stay persistent, and you'll get there.
Having said that, here are 7 suggestions on how you can improve your logical thinking as a programmer:
Tackling programming challenges teaches you that there are various ways to solve a problem, each with its unique outcomes. Grasping different approaches and having multiple solutions in mind empowers you to choose the most effective one for a given problem. When I started my developer career I used a tool called LeetCode which helped me to better develop my logical thinking. I started by doing easy problems and gradually moving to more complex ones.
Understand how different data structures and algorithms work. This knowledge forms the foundation of logical thinking in programming. Knowing when to use an Array, a HashMap or a Tree will give your application an optimization boost and will help you develop a better reasoning for programming. Knowing how to perform basic algorithmic operations will also benefit you when you need to apply these concepts practically.
Only part of the programming is actually writing the code in an IDE. You should have a clear idea of how to handle a problem prior to actually typing the solution. A good way of understanding the problem is to write it on paper. Use flowcharts, diagrams, drawings, and whatever else you think might help you visualize the problem better. Once you have the full picture, then you can continue with actually coding it.
The pseudocode can also be a way of prototyping how to tackle a problem. Since you already know how certain data structures work, you can use their features directly in the pseudocode.
and then transform the pseudocode into a real one (js example)
Analyze code written by others. Understand how they approached problems and implemented solutions. Watch tutorials, and courses but make sure that you understand what they are teaching you and try to create the same applications without looking at the solutions the creators have provided. Try making it yourself. By spending time thinking about the problem and searching in Google you will gain a lot more, than copying their code. When you have a working code, then you can go through the tutor's solution and analyze the differences between your and their code.
Engage in discussions with fellow programmers. Explaining your thought process and listening to others can provide valuable insights. Share your knowledge and solve the task as a team. In a real job situation, you will have a team, that will help you with an idea if you get stuck. Don't hesitate to ask for help if you are stuck. Don't give up too fast either.
One of the best things you can do in my opinion is to build your own projects. Challenge yourself with a doable project that pushes your boundaries a bit. Face problems head-on - first, give it a shot on your own, then use Google if needed, and ask a more experienced friend for a nudge. If none of these work, switch perspectives, approach the problem differently, and focus on making it functional rather than polished.
Wondering where to start from? Here are 10 Web Developer Project Ideas for Beginners.
In conclusion, working on your logical thinking for programming is a useful way to get better at it. By practicing problem-solving and algorithms, you can become a more skilled programmer over time. Just take it easy, keep practicing, and you'll see progress. It's all about gradually getting better at how you handle coding challenges. Keep on coding!