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Do programmers memorize code?

codemattermedia profile image codemattermedia ・1 min read

Sometimes. Most engineers can't remember what they wrote yesterday but can write an algorithm by hand if asked.

Contributing to a shared codebase is like writing an endless novel with many writers, revisions, and a long history of changing based on the problem a particular piece aims to solve.

It's almost impossible to remember everything you or someone else wrote.

There is; however, some recall involved when programming. You've already memorized many words and phrases in the English language, and that's a great start since programming languages are in English.

Each language has its vocabulary and rules that need to be respected for things to work. You will want to memorize these. For example, JavaScript has some of the following keywords that you'll need to understand and remember to use the language to it's fullest capability:

  • variable declaration: let, var const
  • loops: for, while, in, etc

You will find these basic concepts in all programming languages, sometimes with the same syntax.

Memory works like a muscle. The more you practice something, the better you get at it. When engaging in deliberate practice of a skill, your nervous system sends electrical impulses to new areas of your brain. This action insulates the axons with a myelin sheath that strengthens the signal over time.

With enough repetition, your understanding of new concepts will be embedded in your long-term memory, making your recall faster than it was before.

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