Tail Whips

Usually, in all of programming courses I taught, I would at some point in the course take about 15 minutes of the beginning of the class to explain something to them. For those who had me for a half dozen or more courses, this talk might have gotten a bit old. But, even then, it was worthwhile for them to remember the standpoint I was teaching from.

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One of the problems programmers face is dealing with a large number of the same datatype. An example of this is this web page. If you view the page source you will see that behind the scenes a web page is a bunch of text. In talking about datatypes, I introduced the char datatype which holds 1 character. But this page consists of a few thousand characters. As a programmer, you would not want to have to create a variable for each character in the page. Programming would be a horribly inefficient means of processing a web page.
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Every programming language I’ve worked with allowed the programmer to add comments to the program. Comments are essentially programmer notes which the compiler ignores. In the small programs I’ve had here so far comments haven’t really been necessary. However, when you have a program that has 10,000 lines of code and you haven’t looked at it in a couple years, comments come in handy. A second instance where comments are handy is when you are trying to make changes to programs someone else wrote. I’ve modified programs written by other people. Some were well commented, others not. If I had not already been convinced of the value of comments, working with those poorly commented programs would have changed my mind. Continue reading “Comments”