Need to Be a Higher Information Scientist? Write Coding Tutorials! | by Conor O’Sullivan | Apr, 2023

Picture by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Once I first began writing, I may hardly code. My little Python expertise got here from college initiatives. On the similar time, I assumed I used to be an ideal author! Now wanting again, I cringe at a few of my earlier articles.

This reveals me that writing tutorials has improved each my technical and communication expertise. Finally, it has made me a greater information scientist. I wish to share my expertise and focus on some particular advantages. This contains writing readable code and offering step one to writing about troublesome matters.

Technical expertise are clearly vital to builders and information scientists. On the similar time, we work in fields which are continuously altering. This implies we have to sustain with the most recent instruments. This may be troublesome and time-consuming so it takes an actual dedication to be taught repeatedly.

Writing has motivated me to constantly be taught new technical expertise and to develope a deep data on these matters.

Writing has been an ideal motivator. Not solely can I be taught new issues however I can share these classes with the world. It’s addictive — having individuals learn and work together along with your work. The need to constantly put up new articles has pushed me to constantly be taught new issues.

Not solely that however I discover writing is the greatest method to be taught. Usually it’s solely after I’ve tried to clarify one thing that I’ve realised I don’t truly perceive it. On prime of this, I all the time intention so as to add worth to a subject. Introducing novelty requires understanding. On this means, writing has been a verify on my data. It has pushed me to actually perceive the technical ideas I write about.

Writing readable code

A associated ability is writing readable code. Good code ought to clarify itself. Equally, a tutorial based mostly on readable code is less complicated to write down. I spend much less time explaining what the code does and infrequently you do not have to clarify it in any respect. I’ve discovered this profit extends to collaborating in trade.

Any idiot can write code that a pc can perceive. Good programmers write code that people can perceive.

— Martin Fowler

An instance comes from a current article of mine — Using SHAP to Debug a PyTorch Image Regression Model. Within the tutorial, I labored with SHAP values given in a 5-dimensional array. I needed to visualise this array utilizing one of many bundle’s features. To do that, the array first wanted to be reordered. Initially, the code appeared like this:

# Reshape shap values for plotting
shap_numpy = [np.swapaxes(np.swapaxes(s, 1, -1), 1, 2) for s in shap_values]

The nested swapaxes features weren’t enjoyable to clarify. The TLDR is that the code transposed the array’s third dimension with the fifth dimension. I discovered myself writing a prolonged paragraph about how the code was doing this. So, as an alternative, I rewrote the code:

# Reshape shap values for plotting
shap_numpy = record(np.array(shap_values).transpose(0,1,3,4,2))

The transpose operate is extra intuitive and the code was simpler to clarify. When writing code for tutorials, I’m all the time looking for examples like these. Readable code makes the writing course of smoother and the tutorial extra digestible.

I’ve discovered this ability notably helpful when collaborating with different professionals. You may by no means get away from handovers and code opinions. Explaining code throughout these processes isn’t any completely different to explaining it in a web based tutorial. Finally, writing readable code means I’ve spent much less time explaining that code to colleagues.

Once I first began working, I rapidly realised that non-technical expertise had been additionally vital. You not solely have to get outcomes but in addition clarify them and your course of. I needed to produce emails, shows or technical paperwork each day. There was no getting away from writing!

…historically, completely different individuals comply with completely different paths of their careers―some are extra technical, others are extra artistic and communicative. A knowledge scientist has to have each.

―Monica Rogati

Writing coding tutorials is nice follow for this. The extra I wrote the higher I used to be at speaking at work. Complicated evaluation turned simpler to clarify and I needed to make clear my work much less. I rapidly noticed the tangible advantages. But, this was simply the beginning.

Utilizing tutorials as a place to begin in your writing

In comparison with different articles, coding tutorials are straightforward to write down. There are not any deep ideas or nuanced arguments. You simply clarify the code. This implies they could be a method to get into harder writing.

Writing is one thing you have to practise to get good at. Tutorials helped me take my first steps. I began to experiment by including catchy tales to the directions and conclusions. Stumbling via these helped me to maneuver into several types of articles.

Taking extra assured strides, I moved onto items based mostly on my expertise as an information scientist. These had been articles based mostly on extra summary ideas, my private expertise and emotions. I discovered these far tougher to write down than any coding tutorial. But, I might not be at this level if not for these first tutorials.

Trying again, there have been many advantages from writing coding tutorials. I’ve improved my technical data and discovered to write down readable code. Writing tutorials has additionally introduced me to the purpose the place I really feel assured to write down about almost something. I haven’t even talked about the advantages for my popularity and the monetary compensation.

So, in case you are fascinated by writing, coding tutorials are a good way to begin. If you’re battling concepts, you might discover this text helpful:

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