Pattern Search

What a cool idea.

Video gamers can supposedly differentiate between tones more similar to one another than non-gamers. Perhaps, if you made a theme of very similar colors, you could achieve the same benefit from programming. Although I suspect it might not work because the difference in the colors has to have significance for your brain to really start paying attention to it. So you could have a color-sensitive language. Or maybe color could be the only significant thing, then you could just bind each character to a color in your text editor and use a normal language.

While walking in the wood today and looking at the detail on the ground and searching for ripe fruit in the trees I was thinking about how our brains are really good at picking out specific visual things from noise and how more complex visual things are sometimes easier to recognize than simpler things. Also its possible to get really good at picking out subtle clues from very complex input: think about a native American Indian’s ability to track moving animals over long distances.

So I think what would be really cool is to have a way of representing each function of a program as a visual form, ideally a 3-dimensional one. You could then look at these form and over time you would start to be able to see certain things about the function just by looking at the forms. I wonder if that might be a much faster way of searching for specific things within a large body of code such as you might do in a security audit than actually reading through all the code because it taps into the innate concurrency of the right-hemisphere.

There would be some difficulty would be in generating appropriate visual forms. The form has to be meaningful. The ideal would be if it were meaningful to the point where somebody well used to them could write the code a form represented just by looking at the form or, at least, infer the gist of it. Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to one form per function, you could have 10 different forms per function, each representing different properties, or forms generated from by dividing the code in lots of different ways (not just functions). Or maybe you could simplify everything I’m saying here and just have a lot more statistical static analysis of code then displayed with charts and infographics.

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