Importance of communication and how to improve it

In summary, the code in question implements an algorithm to calculate uncertainties in a linear fit of data.
  • #1
Grelbr42
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So the generic question here is, how to improve communication?

Recently I started a review task for a coworker's analysis. One of the items in the report for the analysis is a graph with a linear fit of some data. And the linear fit has uncertainty reported in the fitting parameters. So I ask "What did you do to produce these uncertainties?" His response is "I calculated them." Um... Click click click. "Yes, but what did you *do*?" So he starts to show me his PERL script. "Wait. OK. What does the PERL script do?" He tries to show me more script. "No no. Source code is not documentation." He looks quite upset with me but pauses. "What does the script do to calculate the uncertainties?" Suddenly he's back in the groove, walking me through 200 lines of PERL. And suddenly I see that he has included a covariance matrix. Sigh. I know what the client will do with *that*. They have a very large pile of such things behind their facility. On the far side of the parking lot behind the trees. "So you used the textbook formulas, fed the data in, and got reports of the uncertainty of the fitting parameters, yes?" Well... Yes. But my PERL script... "No no, that's quite alright. I have what I needed."

How could I have asked this question so that my meaning got through?
 
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  • #2
If this is the first interaction of this sort, then I think it is natural to have some iteration on questions to get to the heart of the matter. I suppose in this instance you could have asked what type of uncertainty or equations are implemented by the code. You kept asking what he did, and he definitely wrote code. You also asked what does the script do. These are all easily interpreted to require answer that talk about the script.
 
  • #3
Grelbr42 said:
"No no. Source code is not documentation."
Was the code commented? Was there a good summary of the code in the comments at the top of the file?
 
  • #4
Grelbr42 said:
How could I have asked this question so that my meaning got through?
Be careful. You could find yourself with the added responsibility of supervising this person. Extra work, much frustration, and at the same pay.

Some suggestions:

What is the algorithm implemented in your code?

Sketch the flow chart of the your code.

Sketch the flow chart of the algorithm in your code. Yes. Now. Freehand.
 
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  • #5
berkeman said:
Was the code commented? Was there a good summary of the code in the comments at the top of the file?
No comments whatever. Variable names like xj and yq.
 
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  • #6
How could I have asked this question so that my meaning got through?

"What underlying methodology did you use to base your calculations on?"
 
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What is the importance of communication?

The importance of communication cannot be overstated. It is the foundation of all human interactions and essential for building relationships, sharing information, and achieving common goals. Effective communication can improve productivity, reduce conflict, and increase understanding and trust among people.

How does communication impact personal and professional relationships?

Communication is crucial for maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships. It allows individuals to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs, and also helps in understanding others' perspectives. Good communication can foster trust, respect, and cooperation, while poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and damaged relationships.

What are some ways to improve communication skills?

There are several ways to improve communication skills, such as active listening, being clear and concise, using appropriate body language, and being open to feedback. It is also important to consider the audience and adapt communication style accordingly. Practicing and seeking opportunities to communicate effectively can also help in improving communication skills.

How can effective communication benefit the workplace?

Effective communication is essential for a successful workplace. It can improve teamwork, increase productivity, and reduce conflicts and misunderstandings. It also promotes a positive work culture and fosters trust and respect among colleagues. Effective communication can also help in achieving common goals and making informed decisions.

What are some common barriers to effective communication?

There are several barriers to effective communication, such as language barriers, cultural differences, distractions, lack of clarity, and emotional barriers. These barriers can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and ineffective communication. It is important to identify and address these barriers to improve communication and build stronger relationships.

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