# First Order Problems

When I first started learning how to program, I was suprised when programs didn't work the very first time.

About a year ago I started to learn Python, a programming language.

To help out, I started working my way through problems on Project Euler. The problems start out simple enough, Problem #1 is "Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000", but they get tricky fast.

There are two constraints to solving the problem. Arriving at the correct solution, and having your program do so in under a minute.

In order to accomplish the latter, often requires research into many higher order math concepts.

This has been an excellent way for me to learn a language because I very much enjoy solving problems.

Long ago, when I was in college, I did my first internship, and was struck by how fast, rewarding and easy real-world problems were compared to the contrived problems I'd been solving in class.

College problems often only make sense in their own specific context, have only a specific solution and often have artificial limitations to require a consistent method of solving them. Not in the real world. People don't care how you solve a problem, just that it meets their needs.

After I got a taste of the real world, it was hard to go back, and for the most part, I haven't since I graduated.

But these problems, and their format really intrigue me. They are still contrived, but the complexity of analysis they require is much more nourishing. They stump me, tease me, challenge me in ways very few technical problems have.

Part of this addiction to puzzles often involves me solving Sudoku on my phone when I get bored, which I have enjoyed, up until this week when I hit Problem #96, to write a program that solves arbitrary sudoku puzzles...

It was a tough one, but eventually my program could solve all 50 of the sample sudoku's given, and now that I've written a program that solves *all* sudokus, I no longer find any joy in them.

I, personally, can't solve all sudoku problems. I often make mistakes, or get lost in a logic branch, but a thing I made from scratch can. Programming is a weird thing. I often get lost in the complexity of what I'm doing, and end up in a strange situation where I'm trusting myself because I can't fully hold the complexity of one part of the problem in my head while I tackle the other.

But now, with decades of experience under my belt, I have now begun to experience the reverse of my beginner's optimism. Where I will complete a program, run it expecting numerous errors, and instead, have a single, correct answer pop out.

To be surprised by yourself is an odd feeling.