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harshhpareek comments on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 - Less Wrong

2 Post author: MrMind 18 April 2016 07:19AM

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Comment author: harshhpareek 18 April 2016 09:08:33PM *  2 points [-]

I've been preparing for coding interviews, and I realized that the skill had gotten "rusty" from disuse. A specific example is coding a binary search, which is a little nontrivial because you have to think carefully to avoid off-by-one errors.

When people talk about old skills they talk about them in two ways: some skills you can supposedly never forget, like riding a bike, Some others can get rusty, so you need to keep brushing them up over and over again.

Neither of these seems actually true. I think it's more like the exponential forgetting curve we have for (verbal) memory. The neurons for the skill still exist but you can't access them after a while, and when you recall the skill, you get to the same level as before. If you keep reinforcing it from time to time, say according to the spaced repetition schedule, the skills become permanent. (I've made the exponential analogy because it would be cool if motor memory and verbal memory had similar mechanisms, but it's just a model that I'm familiar with)

Has anyone heard of something like this in the psych literature?

What are your experiences with skills like these that you don't use as often? Have you made a skill "permanent" through repeated practice.

Comment author: cousin_it 19 April 2016 11:31:49AM 1 point [-]

coding a binary search, which is a little nontrivial because you have to think carefully to avoid off-by-one errors

Half-open ranges are your friend :-)