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How to develop strong problem solving skills as a software developer


It is generally known that problem solving is an essential skill for software engineers.

Good problem solving skills involve being able to think creatively and analytically, breaking down problems into smaller parts and using a systematic approach to find solutions. Strong problem solving skills are essential for a successful career in software development.
In this article we will review some approach.

Various Methods

Trial and Error method

The trial and error method is a common problem-solving technique in which potential solutions are tried out one by one until a working solution is found. This method can be used for both simple and complex problems.

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For example, if a child is trying to figure out how to open a toy box, he or she may try various methods (e.g., pulling, pushing, lifting) until the correct one is found. Similarly, a software engineer may try different approaches to solving a programming problem until a working solution is found.
This can be effective, but it can also be time consuming and frustrating.

Divide and conquer

Another approach is to use a more systematic method, such as divide and conquer or reduction.
Divide and conquer is a software engineering technique for solving complex problems by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
This allows for more efficient and effective problem solving by breaking down a complex problem into smaller, more manageable sub-problems.
Once these sub-problems have been solved, they can be combined to solve the larger, more complex problem.

One common example of divide and conquer is the use of recursion. Recursion involves breaking a problem down into smaller sub-problems, solving each sub-problem, and then combining the solutions to the sub-problems to solve the larger problem.
Another common example is the use of algorithms, such as the quick sort algorithm, which break a problem down into smaller pieces, solving each piece, and then combining the solutions to the pieces to solve the larger problem.

Once a solution is found, it is important to learn from the experience and use that knowledge to improve future problem solving skills. This includes understanding what went wrong, what could have been done better, and how similar problems can be avoided in the future.
By taking these steps, software developers can become more effective problem solvers.

Problem solving skills is important in its own way. As a software developer, you should try to develop all of these skills in order to be successful.


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Analytical skills:

Analytical skills are the ability to collect and analyze data, identify patterns and trends, and make decisions based on that information. They involve both logical and creative thinking, as well as the ability to pay attention to detail. Strong analytical skills are important in many different fields.
Some examples:

  • Being able to break down a problem and identify the various components
  • Being able to identify patterns and trends
  • Being able to see relationships between different pieces of data
  • Being able to make decisions based on data
  • Being able to solve complex problems

Creative thinking

Creative thinking in computer science is all about coming up with new and innovative ways to solve problems. It’s about thinking outside the box and coming up with creative solutions that nobody has thought of before.

It’s important to be creative in computer science because it’s a constantly evolving field. If you’re not constantly coming up with new ideas, you’re going to fall behind. Creative thinking is what keeps computer science moving forward.

If you want to be successful in computer science, you need to be creative. It’s not enough to just learn the basics. You need to be constantly thinking of new and better ways to do things. So if you’re not a naturally creative person, don’t worry. Just keep working at it and you’ll get there.

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning is a process of making deductions based on given information. In computer science, this process is often used to solve problems and to create new algorithms. To reason logically, one must first identify the premises and then use them to reach a valid conclusion.


Practice is one of the best ways to improve your problem solving skills.
You can do this by working on coding challenges, participating in online coding contests, or simply trying to solve problems you encounter in your daytoday work.
Collaboration is another great way to improve your problem solving skills. When you work with others, you can learn from their experiences and share your own insights. This can help you develop a more well rounded approach to problem solving.

If you're a software developer, congratulations! You have chosen one of the most mentally demanding professions there is. And if you want to be successful, you need to have strong problem solving skills.

My last tip: get comfortable with being stuck! It's normal to feel stuck when you're trying to solve a problem and don't be afraid to ask for help. We all need help from time to time, and there's no shame in admitting that you need help.

So there you have it! Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to developing strong problem solving skills as a software developer.

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Top comments (26)

grunk profile image

For students , don't underestimate the mathematics. You definitively don't need a master degrees in maths to be a successfull developer BUT , mathematics train your brain to think.
All this theorems you probably never used in real world , all thoses equation you resolved in high school helped your logical reasoning.

Finally, to get better at resolving problem you definitely should resolve problem :P The more you resolve , the better you get !

nathan20 profile image
Nathan • Edited

I agree with you! I mentioned it, practice and practice..
About maths it is also another alternative

jacekandrzejewski profile image
Jacek Andrzejewski

Science shows that there really is no knowledge transfer between unrelated fields. There is essentially no way to get overall better at thinking. You either can relate what you know already to the thing or you can't. In first case it's experience, not brain trained to thinking, in second it depends on if you learned how to learn.

Logical reasoning is a small part that everyone does even without thinking, but it doesn't transfer if you don't use abstractions to relate what you don't know with what you do know.

You can get better at resolving problems overall, but it's a tiny improvement if you don't focus on learning how to solve problems. Solving problems on it's own gives you experience you can use at solving similar things. But it won't help with different problems.

That being said if you can relate math you learned to problems you need to solve it can sometimes make something impossible into something very easy. That on it's own is a good reason to get good at maths.
The other one is training on how to read information dense domain texts.

standiki profile image
Stanley Diki

You're right, solving mathematical problems help increase logical reasoning, and I believe that's a major reason we do maths in Computer Science. Working with numbers is a top-tier ability if you want to become a successful "software engineer". Thanks.

standiki profile image
Stanley Diki • Edited

You're right, solving mathematical problems help increase logical reasoning, and I believe that's a major reason we do maths in Computer Science. Working with numbers is a top-tier ability if you want to become a successful "software engineer". Thanks

abhinav1217 profile image
Abhinav Kulshreshtha

Just like Neil deGrasse Tyson said, It is not about finding the value of x, It is about process for finding the x.

fjones profile image

I have to disagree, especially on the Maths->Logics path. I found it's a lot easier to go into Logics without Maths, even though the basic principles are similar (since both are just formal languages).

emil profile image

What he meant is that math trains your brain. Either way it’s math or not it’s necessary to think structured to solve programming problems. I have seen so many bad code written my mathematics (no offense 😃)

apimike profile image
Mike Rozner

Great post Nathan, but I think you've missed one fundamental skill of a dev and that is humor..
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jarvisscript profile image
Chris Jarvis

You have to joke so you don't cry.

gass profile image

what a cool drawing!

nathan20 profile image

Hahaha @apimike humor is important!

grunk profile image
Olivier • Edited

I just said that math was a way , and because it's basically taught in every school of the world (contrary to other knowledge) it's important to embrace it and understand that what you are taught is not how to multiply 2 number but actually how to think.

I realized it way too late, I always hated math when I was young because I wasn't able to figure out the point of what I was taught.

The misconception is , that you have to be good at math to be a good developer. Indeed that completely false (unless your are developing for some specific field).

itechsuite profile image
kingsley Goodluck

Being a successful software developer, one needs to be open to learning and unlearning. I've learnt and unlearnt and am grateful I did. Most of the time I share with colleagues and friends, I got to find out the knowledge that was most neglected, tends to be a challenge for someone else.

It's a mentally demanding field. It's not just a job, it's a way of life.

ayodejii profile image
Isaac Ayodeji Ikusika

this is spot on

gass profile image
Gass • Edited

Thanks for the article, it resonates.

I read most of the comments and can't stay quiet. From my years of experience, math can be a really powerful tool when it comes to solving problems. Ofcourse is only one of the tools out there that can empower a programmer. Another tool I found to be crucial are flow charts. Being able to construct them the right way can help a lot.

e. g. This problem I solved it using only math. And I have used many concepts of math and physics for game development. To understand algebra, arrays, matrixes, vectors, magnituds, forces, inertia, acceleration, etc... Can be crucial on the development of certain softwares. But it all depends the area in which you are coding.

alvi_niloy profile image
Alvi Adhikary Niloy • Edited

A newbie here. I've a different problem . i.e. I face difficulty while implementing the code but I know the theory & logic behind it. Any suggestion/advice for me anyone ?

nathan20 profile image

Hiiii maybe I will write an article about it ! Nice idea :)

madza profile image

a great read

gorzas profile image
José David Cano Pérez

I wonder if there is literature about how to improve and train your problem solving skills. Could you recommend books about this topic?

nathan20 profile image

Personnaly I don't know books on this topic, but if you have got something share it with us :)

1596944197 profile image

this article and that comments below are good

jeffchavez_dev profile image
Jeff Chavez

Thank you. "Divide and conquer" works for me.

freedisch profile image

I think, being open-mind is a way to simulate our brain when it comes to creative thinking.
btw nice article

hudsonxp80 profile image

I have a short, simple rule: be creating and imaginary as much as possible. That's to say whatever others do you can do differently and/or more crazily.

mypaperwriter profile image

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