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Some Tips for Tracing

Tracing can be as simple as adding 20/30 random numbers manually by hand.
Sure it'll take some time, but if you're cool enough, you'll always be correct.
Here're some tips on tracing I feel will be helpful for all :)



  • Concentration : Many of my friends have lost the concentration signing the attendance sheet. So, maybe starting tracing after signing in the attendance sheet is a good idea for someSince there'll be Java Programming from now on, and programs in the question paper tend to be short (and easy with practice), if you can, answer that question first. Then if you start tracing hopefully you won't be disturbed.

  • Marking the loop body : This one is particularly helpful for almost everyone. If you mark the loop bodies and then start tracing, there's a visual guidance which is very helpful in complex nested loop situation. You can't just slip between loops as there'll be boundaries among loops. There's an example below,
  • Doing the trace table right! : This technique is one of the most important ones! Keep your trace table neat and tidy! When update a value of a variable, cut the old one. In this way your mind sees less thing to deal with subconsciously.It's because our mind is hardwired to ignore thing that has been cut. So if you only keep the latest value of every variable, your mind subconsciously feels less overloaded! Try to keep the table like below,

  • Doing "rough work" right! : This one is even more important! When we do roughwork for tracing we often forget to keep the roughwork neat! We just do it in a jumbled way! And then when we lost our last position, its World War II! Remember, we're just doing simple arithmetic operations here! Why we have to make our answer script Einstein's notebook? We're given enough pages to do 5/6 tracing!
    A demo below shows what's problematic and what's not!



  • When working with complex arithmetic statement, firstly write in down, then replace the identifiers(that's variable's name) with their values and then perform the arithmetic operations on them according to precedence. If you need a refresher on this topic, visit here http://introcs.cs.princeton.edu/java/11precedence/
  • Keep a small thing like pen cap in the line you're currently working on. In this way you get a clear guidance where you were after turning from the rough work, thus your brain doesn't get confused about where you were previously and what to do next!

Of course all of them don't applies to everyone. Hope this helps :)

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