The Programmer's Brain

The Programmer's Brain

What every programmer needs to know about cognition

Felienne Hermans


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"A great book with deep insights into the bridge between programming and the human mind." - Mike Taylor, CGI

Your brain responds in a predictable way when it encounters new or difficult tasks. This unique book teaches you concrete techniques rooted in cognitive science that will improve the way you learn and think about code.

In The Programmer’s Brain: What every programmer needs to know about cognition you will learn:

    Fast and effective ways to master new programming languages
    Speed reading skills to quickly comprehend new code
    Techniques to unravel the meaning of complex code
    Ways to learn new syntax and keep it memorized
    Writing code that is easy for others to read
    Picking the right names for your variables
    Making your codebase more understandable to newcomers
    Onboarding new developers to your team

Learn how to optimize your brain’s natural cognitive processes to read code more easily, write code faster, and pick up new languages in much less time. This book will help you through the confusion you feel when faced with strange and complex code, and explain a codebase in ways that can make a new team member productive in days!

Foreword by Jon Skeet.

About the technology
Take advantage of your brain’s natural processes to be a better programmer. Techniques based in cognitive science make it possible to learn new languages faster, improve productivity, reduce the need for code rewrites, and more. This unique book will help you achieve these gains.

About the book
The Programmer’s Brain unlocks the way we think about code. It offers scientifically sound techniques that can radically improve the way you master new technology, comprehend code, and memorize syntax. You’ll learn how to benefit from productive struggle and turn confusion into a learning tool. Along the way, you’ll discover how to create study resources as you become an expert at teaching yourself and bringing new colleagues up to speed.

What's inside

    Understand how your brain sees code
    Speed reading skills to learn code quickly
    Techniques to unravel complex code
    Tips for making codebases understandable

About the reader
For programmers who have experience working in more than one language.

About the author
Dr. Felienne Hermans is an associate professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She has spent the last decade researching programming, how to learn and how to teach it.

Table of Contents
1 Decoding your confusion while coding
2 Speed reading for code
3 How to learn programming syntax quickly
4 How to read complex code
5 Reaching a deeper understanding of code
6 Getting better at solving programming problems
7 Misconceptions: Bugs in thinking
8 How to get better at naming things
9 Avoiding bad code and cognitive load: Two frameworks
10 Getting better at solving complex problems
11 The act of writing code
12 Designing and improving larger systems
13 How to onboard new developers


Felienne Hermans:
Dr. Felienne Hermans is an associate professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She has spent the last decade researching learning and teaching programming. Felienne is an award-winning educator, the creator of the Hedy programming language for novice programmers, and a host of Software Engineering Radio—one of the world’s largest programming podcasts.