The magic of true names

Reading Hacker News today I ran across a beautiful exchange describing a concept I've struggled to explain before:

...A few probability distributions can be expressed in terms of a Pólya urn...

Thank you! Sometimes the hardest thing is knowing what to google!

As an educator I've seen the power of knowing the true name for a concept first hand. Particularly in programming, where you engage with this problem solving cycle constantly:

  1. Encounter problem,
  2. Struggle to describe problem,
  3. Google furiously,
  4. Read Stack Overflow, documentation, blog posts, GitHub issues,
  5. Refine my problem description, or divide it into pieces
  6. Repeat

This process, which is critical for every programmer of any stripe to get comfortable with, sometimes leads you to learn the "true name" of the concept underlying your issue, but it can also be incredibly inefficient.

Hearing from someone, "you have an event delegation problem", for example, is time saving and empowering.

That's why one of our goals at Thinkful, both in the content we develop and in the way we structure your relationship with a professional mentor, is to help you pick up a useful collection of true names more efficiently than you can on your own.

Today I learned the true name of True Name.