Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pattern Hunting

Try to recall this: some kids hoping and bouncing away in the malls as they try to skip to the next patterned tile or try to avoid the flooring of a certain color/design. I'm sure most, if not all of us, have encountered such a scene before. In fact, chances are, we have probably done something similar once upon a time. However, there is a high chance that we would have questioned these "antics" rather than gain a sense of familiarity with the skills they are displaying. Most would have placed this important skill in the back seat and some of us might have even forgotten about it. This seemingly innocent act of childishness is actually something much more sophisticated. It encompasses a skill that I feel everybody should perpetually utilize and kept sharpened - pattern hunting.

try to find the hidden tiger in this picture (answers @ the end)

In the field of computer science, it's critical that we discover patterns so that efficient algorithms can be developed. Within the research community, breakthroughs are often achieved after patterns are exposed in repeated tests. Con jobs are done with highly similar methods and yet people continue to be deceived, because tricksters are well versed in human nature (our behavioral pattern). In general, I believe pattern recognition and having the ability to understand and adapt to them can really better our lives and make us more efficient.

With whatever small amounts of ability I had to hunt and "see" patterns, it has certainly helped in my work and life so far. For the Qatar project, apart from having to use new products and technology (to build a portal in a painfully short time frame), there was also the burden of adapting and assimilating into her culture. In essence, the quicker you see the patterns in the specifications, the protocols and the interfaces of the products, the faster you can develop your custom applications and codes. The sooner you understand the intricacies of another culture and their unique behavioral patterns, the better you can communicate and build a rapport with them.

The same skill is again put to good use when I was sent to Oman. It's a new set of challenges with it's own unique culture to adapt to and I had only two good weeks to make myself useful over there. Naturally, it helped a great deal to be able to spot and recognize the similarities that existed between the cultures of the two nations and also the technical issues experienced.

an Omani friend [i hope you don't mind me posting your pic here :)]

I think that's about all I have to say for tonight (or rather morning...). If you have not been paying much attention to patterns in your life/work/etc, give it a try (what's the worst that could happen? :D).

P.S for the optical illusion, try looking for the text "THE HIDDEN TIGER" on the tiger's body :)

- dmon

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