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How to Read Complex Code without Getting a Headache

YOW! 2020 Melbourne

Research shows that on average developers spend about 58 percent of their time on reading code! However, we are not explicitly taught reading code in school or in boot camps, and we rarely practice code reading too.  

Maybe you have never thought about it, but reading code can be confusing in many ways. Code in which you do not understand the variable names causes a different type of confusion from code that is very coupled to other code. In this talk, Felienne Hermans, associate professor at Leiden University, will firstly dive into the cognitive processes that play a role when reading code. She will then show you theories for reading code, and close the talk with some hands-on techniques that can be used to read to any piece of code with more ease and fewer headaches!

Felienne Hermans

Associate Professor Programming Education

Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science


Felienne Hermans is an assistant professor at Delft University of Technology. Her team at the Spreadsheet Lab works on making spreadsheets better by designing tools to test and improve them.

One of Felienne's biggest passions in life is to share her enthusiasm for programming with others. Therefore she co-organizes the yearly "Joy of Coding" conference in the Netherlands and teaches robotics at a community center each Saturday.

The online course Data Analysis: Take it to the MAX, devised by Felienne Hermans, has been given the Wharton-QS gold education award in the category Regional Award Europe: the prize for the best education innovation project entry in Europe.

Felienne has been given the Open Education Award for Excellence 2018 for her exceptional dedication to high quality teaching and learning, and a commitment to the ideals of Open Education.