A glimpse of expert programmers’ mental imagery

marian petre, alan blackwell


when asked to construct software solutions to a series of real problems, they always talk about:

the issue is that they do not necessarily map onto data structures coded in programming languages (including oop)

very muhc thunking abstractly and strategically

there are also multiple ways to encore a mental image

it seems that “those with experience of declarative langueages did not design significantly different solutions from those without”

caveat: they were not asked to implement the solution as code.


strongly spatial

mathematically-oriented imagery of ‘solution surfaces’. it’s like reducting the multi dimensional aspect of the problem to a two dimensional surfaces of drops and bumps, where height indicates goodness of a solution


solutions are spread all over the landscape

purely abstract

entities that exist just as symbols, standing for themselves

common elements

the relationship between imagery and explanation warrants further explanation