Monday, January 23, 2017

To code

My friend, Cassidy, has this meme on the wall
in her office. How fitting!
It's a quiet, gray day in Woods Hole. I've been indoors most of the day, working on a desktop computer in the lab. I'm analyzing a dataset that was collected last summer, and I'm actually having a lot of fun with the analysis. Most of my Ph.D. work involved analyzing and making meaning out of previously-collected datasets, so it's something I'm very comfortable with. Give me a mess of numbers, and I will find any important pattern that hides within.

In many ways, analyzing data is my comfort zone, so it was nice to return to that familiar territory today. The only problem? I'm doing the analysis in Matlab, a statistical program that is entirely code-based. I'm brand-new to Matlab and actually not that experienced at coding in general, but I am determined to learn as much as I can. Code-based programs like Matlab and R are incredibly powerful - you can literally do anything in them - but that power comes with a steep learning curve. Writing code is really analagous to learning a new language. It has its own grammar, its own syntax, its own vocabulary.

Coding can be frustrating, but it's also rewarding. Tell you what, when you finally get a script debugged and the program does what you want it to - that is a great feeling. I'm grateful for the chance to explore a new dataset and add Matlab to my arsenal. It's an incredibly powerful tool!

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