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Programming Theory

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Ok I have a quick question that I cant seem to figure out on my own.(or atleast I dont think I can). What does programming theory consist of? does it just mean you understand how things work not just how to use them? does it mean you understand something more? what exactly does it mean? I hear people say you need to know theory in order to be good but what exactly is defined as "theory"... I have been searching the last few days and cant seem to find anyhting worth note on it. Thanks for the clarification in advance.

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By therory they probably mean things such as data structures and algorithms. In the context of 3D-Graphics (as well as other topics) therory will also mean the mathematics that 3D-Graphics is based on.

Understanding data structures and algorithms is vital if you wish to be able to program anything non-trivial. Data structures are what hold your data in a way that makes it easy to use in the way you want it to be used. Three common data structures are arrays, linked-lists and trees. Many more data structures are based on those three basic types. Algorithms are basically a set of instructions that acomplishes something. For example sorting algorithms put data into a specified order. Many algorithms rely on data being in a certain structure.

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From Merriam-Webster:


1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : SPECULATION
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art.

So if you know the theory of your problem domain, you are able to think in abstract terms about the problem at hand. This allows you to come up with a solution without heading down too many dead-ends.

[edited by - HairyTroll on January 4, 2004 12:48:30 PM]

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