Daniel Lemire's blog

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Staying sharp requires “intellectual gardening”

4 thoughts on “Staying sharp requires “intellectual gardening””

  1. Given the state of my backyard, likely I should be wary of gardening analogies.

    In a similar vein, I find that my expertise tends to be episodic. I learned SQL and relational database usage quite well back in the mid-80s, yet there are times when I do no work in that area for years. The same can be said for GUI, Java, Perl or C++ programming, at one time or another. Starting a new episode requires much use of reference materials, at first, but the once-familiar topic comes back quickly.

    Maybe gardening is a good analogy, as something once very familiar, if currently disused. 🙂

    To be effective, you have to let at least some disused skills rust, to allow focus on used skills.

  2. Tomas says:

    You should almost always do intersection through a join.

  3. Paul says:

    I had the opportunity to work with a real c++ guru a while back. His code had approachability issues (you had to be at least familiar with everything C++ has to offer), but once you got past that his solutions were invariably straightforward, generalizable and robust. He could make that language dance.

    I’m at another extreme, with endless interests. I’m never able to focus long enough on a single topic to reach the very top echelons of it. But that wide breadth of knowledge has served me well. I can program. I can write. I can do complicated math. I can pull inspiration from nature, from the mind, from quantum physics, from whatever. I find I can approach arbitrary problems for more directions than most.

    Ultimately, the world needs gardens devoted to a few of the best flowers, wide overflowing, haphazardly cultivated gardens and everything in between.

  4. Francois Rivest says:

    Nice post!