Today was a rare day of respite and I happen to find on Netflix one of my favorite movies Julie & Julia. In the movie, Julie is inspired to cook every recipe of Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and of course all I could think of is algorithms, automation, data, and debugging! If you can cook, you can code. It is hands on coding.
The dual story telling in the movie shows the art of how two women found their passion in cooking. And both women went through many trials and errors to creating their food masterpieces. The Julie/Julia Project, though structured and a little manic, is reminiscent of the way many woman taught themselves to cook decades ago. Woman would like a cookbook and work their way through it, learning basic techniques to build up their cooking skills and moving from more simplistic recipes to more complicated. This process of learning is walks hand in hand with learning to code. Coding, just like cooking, is a skill learned and perfected over time, everyone has to start somewhere. The key to learning to cook or code (or really learning anything) is learning the next most useful skill enough to get you to the next level.
Creating a recipe is an algorithm, it is the steps you take to create a meal. The process of testing, tasting, measuring, and cooking are the at the core computational thinking. Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions can be effectively carried out. Through the joy of cooking we are able to walk through the computational process while learning how to solve problems and master the art of trying. When you cook something, you are taking raw ingredients and transforming them, cooking them to get a final result, the plated meal. When you code, you are taking lines of syntax and content, transforming them to create structure, and then executing the program. For example, writing the HTML/CSS code to create a website or a lines of C++ to create a game or in cooking taking flour, sugar, eggs, crisco, and strawberries to make strawberry shortcake. Both are finding solutions for a task and executing. AND once you find the solution that works, repeat, and this is and example of automation. A cookbook is a collection of recipes that can be repeated over over with the same results and is the ultimate goal of a computer program!
Your input is ingredients, your output is a plated meal. At the most basic level, code is two things: Ingredients and Preparation. That’s the cooking metaphor…the words a programmer for these two terms are Data and Algorithms. Food has always been my analogy for learning, my book A Recipe for Success Using SAS University Edition, How to Plan Your First Analytics Project, walks readers through how to begin to use data for creating new knowledge. For the Julie/Julia Project, both ladies when through the same process of working with ingredients, collecting data, and creating the end program of a completed meal.
Next I will be trying my hands on coding skills with Julia Child’s Chicken Breast with Mushroom Cream Sauce following the algorithm (aka recipe). It looked so amazing on the movie! And I am going to work on at least two lessons in my Python course. Small victories!
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