Saturday, February 25, 2012

Platform Learning

In 1997, my friend called me for a chess competition in my home town, Mangalagiri. For that competitions, the organizers invited then under-12 chess champion. In an informal discussion, the top player of that district told others that, in Mangalagiri, there was no one who can beat the under-12 chess champion. He knew, he and one more person can beat her.

I know another chess player in that tournament, who was not a top player, but reasonably good player among the players in that competition. There was one game between him and the under-12 champion. In that game, he defeated her easily.

My friend and myself talked to him after the game. He explained about the game. His learning was platform learning. He did not read any books to learn the game. He learned the game by playing. He does not know the names of any moves of the Chess game. Where as the under-12 champion learned by books. She knew all the moves with it's names. But, the problem is, she can win the game, only if the opponent is playing book game or not so advanced game. Since, he was playing a platform game with lot of common sense and self-learning, she could not understand how he was proceeding in the game, since his game was not a book game. She was not aware of how to play in that situation and finally she lost.

Recently, I realized that, Platform Learning is applicable even in Software also.

There are few people who are so much deep inside the design patterns including their names, sometimes, they cannot think of anything outside of the book. Those people, start with a design pattern and tries to apply to their problem instead of starting with their problem and finding out the best way to solve it. Those who are deeply involved, cannot even think of changing the pattern little bit to solve the problem efficiently. They insist that, that variant is not a pattern, and we should follow "proper" design pattern. It is very difficult to argue with them, and the discussion may never end.

If you are not starting with the problem, it is very difficult to end up with the optimum solution.

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