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C Style: Standards and Guidelines (contents)

CHAPTER 2 : Psychological Factors

PART 1 : BASICS

CHAPTER 2 : Psychological Factors

2.1 Pattern Recognition
2.2 Filtering
2.3 Habit
2.4 Redundancy
2.5 Cues and Context
2.6 Recognizing Basic features
2.7 Short Term, Working and Long Term memory
2.8 Chunking
2.9 The Rule of Seven
2.10 Context Switching
2.11 Modifying the image
2.12 Memorizing sounds
2.13 Eye focus
2.14 Eye movement
2.15 Looking ahead
2.16 Looking back
2.17 The subconscious is always right
2.18 Natural ambition
2.19 Summary

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2.1 Pattern Recognition

We survive in this world not by recognizing complete situations, nor by analyzing each situation from scratch, but by fitting the world into established recognizable patterns. Thus we can cross the road in heavy traffic by applying previous experience to estimating the speed, direction and behavior of oncoming traffic. In particular, we are good at spotting variations from desired patterns: a speeding car in town will catch our attention. Also, patterns outside normal expectations will surprise and confuse us. Thus a stationary car in the middle of the road will force us to pause and analyze the situation - "Is it really stopped? Is it just going slowly? Does it have a driver?" - and will probably annoy us because, "It shouldn't be there."

Similarly, a programmer can find his way around his own programs, even ones written some time ago, more easily than other people. He can also quite easily understand the programs of other people who use a similar style. However, he will find it painfully and annoyingly difficult to understand programs written in a different style.

 

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