Clever, -5

The fun in computer science is when a problem presents itself as a puzzle. Some homework was even enjoyable, I do enjoy puzzles. I recall one particular problem, or rather, one particular solution that took me awhile to work out. I was quite happy with it once I made it through all the difficulties, it was complete and worked in every case I could think of.

When I received it back, it was marked with a 95% grade. The only annotation was a red-marked one in the middle:

Clever, -5

I … didn’t really know what that meant. I’ve been called clever before, but it always seemed like a positive attribute. I asked the professor for clarification. He shared, “Yes, you solved the problem, but in a roundabout way. Is there a straightforward answer?”

I still leave the same comment on code reviews on occasion. “Clever, -5.” There are many ways to solve a problem. Taking the first one that comes to mind isn’t always the best course of action. There may be a more straightforward way to accomplish what you’re trying to do.

Thanks for the lesson Dr. Lang.