Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 8 / AUGUST 1983 / PAGE 245

Problem-solving principles for Basic programmers: applied logic, psychology, and grit. (book reviews) Steve Gray.

Problem-Solving Principles for Basic Programmers: Applied Logic, Psychology, and Grit

This book, which also exists in Fortran, Pascal, and Interlingua (pseudo-coding language) versions, provides "not only a problem-solving background, but also alternative solution paths from which the reader may choose,' according to the preface.

A six-page Chapter 1 introduces the basic building blocks of problem solving. Chapter 2, the book's longest (50 pages), provides nine independent "prescriptions' that apply to general problem solving, but which can help solve programming problems, such as "Reverse gears and work backwards,' "Make sure there is a method to your madness,' and "Step back and view the forest.'

Thirteen advanced prescriptions are provided in Chapter 3, including "Extinguish fire with a brainstorm' and "A pound of analogy equals a ton of sweat.' Chapter 4 concerns Solving Larger Problems, with approaches not provided in Chapters 2 and 3; the main theme is top-down programming. Chapter 5, on Debugging, applies many of the techniques discussed in previous chapters, and also provides 16 prescriptions, including "Determine if bug is consistent' and "Simulate with paper and pencil.' A bibliography of 33 books (including Lewis's three similar works) concludes the text, which stems from a college course in structured programming.

Each prescription is accompanied by one or more problems and at least one Basic program, all of which are described in enough detail to get across the basics of programming science. This book, written with a reasonable amount of detail and clarity, can be recommended to anyone having problems writing Basic programs; it may be the only one on the subject.

One curious feature is that the only attempt at humor in this otherwise quite serious text is in some of the prescription titles, such as "All eggs can be cracked' and "Beware of anxiety--it's heavy.'

Review Grade: C