perlmeditation
tilly
This is not a story about Perl. Or Perl programming.
Or even computers.<P>
Rather it is a story about the road to mastering any logical
subject.<P>
As my bio says, I once studied math. One subject in math
is analysis. This is the true story of a student that
my first analysis professor once had.<P>
This student was a physics student. He did not really want
to take analysis. But he decided that if he was taking it,
then he might as well truly learn it.<P>
When he sat down to
do his first homework he realized that he did not
understand what it meant to prove something. So he went
to the professor and asked what a proof was. The professor
answered, "A proof is an airtight demonstration that a thing
must be so." The student asked what could be assumed. The
professor answered, "You may start with the axioms and the
theorems we have proven from the axioms." The student
asked if you had to accept the theorems, the professor said,
"You need not accept anything that you have not been fully
convinced of."<P>
The student's first homework set was 20 pages long. The
other students needed 5. The student was concerned
and asked the professor, "My homework is so much longer
than theirs is. Am I doing something wrong?" The
professor said, "You may take as long to do it as you need
to. Did you keep in mind what I said about axioms and
theorems?" The student answered, "I did, but I didn't
feel that I understood the theorems so I worked from the
axioms only." The professor answered, "That is good but
learn
to build on what you already know." The student promised
to try.<P>
The student's first homework was perfect. As the course
progressed the student continued to try. Homework by
homework he maintained excellent work, and step
by step learned to organize his thoughts so that he could
build on previous results in class and in his own work.
And step by step the length of his homework fell.<P>
By the end of the course the other's still needed
5 pages for their homework. But this student did not. He
no longer needed 20. He no longer needed 10. Instead his
perfect assignments fit comfortably on a page with room to
spare.<P>
The professor congratulated him on his progress and asked
him about the cause. The student said, "Well I know the
subject
so well that I know exactly how to do each problem, and I
do that and no more."<P>
Here then is the moral for Perl programmers. When you see
the code of master Perl programmers
you may be amazed at how few strokes of the keyboard
they require to solve a problem completely. Many in error
think that they should therefore constantly try to cram as
much into as little room as possible.<P>
This is a misguided path.<P>
Instead strive to understand fully and completely the tool
at hand. Explore exactly how it works and what it can do.
In addition constantly learn how to build on what you and
others have done before. Aim for clarity and comprehension,
and mastery shall surely follow.<P>
This is a true path.