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It happens all the time:
- I try to read an article or a paper on a programming technique, say B-Trees
- I read and understand the first few pages about motivation behind the technique and other expositions
- when it comes to the details, my eyes start to glaze over, I read but I rarely understand
I end up being aware of techniques, but not really understanding them at the same level I understand linked list (which I’ve implemented many times in my programs). The time I spent reading the paper feels wasted.
For example, I’ve read about skip lists several times in the past but today is the first time I can say that I understand skip lists well enough to implement them. Why? Because today I have actually implemented them.
You have to implement to truly understand.