Why should you learn how to program? What is programming? What specific steps can you take? How can you apply programming?

To be a good programmer, it doesn’t take a lot of math. Instead, you need to be able to break larger ideas and processes like how to play tic-tac-toe into small steps. Imagine you were trying to explain tic-tac-toe to a small child. Then take a step back and imagine that you’re watching yourself explain this to a small child. Where do you begin? Be alert for all the steps.

You don’t just start putting X’s and O’s down on the paper. You first need to ask if the child wants to play. Then you can begin explaining the rules and eventually playing. There will usually be some parts you forgot about. What happens? The child will either ask or make a wrong move that you then have to explain. Maybe you forgot to mention that once you write a letter in a box, that it becomes unavailable for the other person to use. Seems obvious, right? Until the child draws an X on top of your O and claims victory.

Even such a simple game is much easier to explain to a child than to a computer. That’s because the child can draw conclusions based on other games and life experiences and naturally understand things without being told. You don’t have that luxury with a computer. No matter how old a computer gets, it never develops any common sense at all.

If you forgot to tell the computer about the same rule that you can’t make a move in a square that’s already occupied, then your game will likely crash. It’s a bug.

The ability to program then, really comes down to how good you can be about planning for all the possible ways something can go wrong and writing instructions to either make sure they don’t happen in the first place or how to handle each situation if they do.

The full episode explains more about programming and how you write the instructions that the computer will follow.