Decomposition and Abstraction

Decomposition and Abstraction

Understanding Decomposition

  • Decomposition involves breaking down a complex problem or system into smaller parts that are easier to understand, analyse and solve.

  • It is a key concept in problem-solving used to simplify complex problems. By breaking a problem down into manageable parts, each part becomes a smaller, easier problem to solve.

  • Each smaller problem can be solved independently before the solutions are combined to solve the original problem.

Applying Decomposition

  • Start by identifying the main task and then break it down into subtasks. Keep breaking these down until you reach a level of simplicity that can be easily solved.

  • For example, creating a computer game can be decomposed into subtasks like: designing the characters, creating the game world, programming the game logic, and implementing the user interface.

Benefits of Decomposition

  • It allows complex problems to be tackled by a team where each person works on a different part of the problem simultaneously.

  • It helps in producing a modular approach to problem solving. Each module can then be tested independently, and used or modified without affecting other parts of the solution.

Understanding Abstraction

  • Abstraction is another key concept in computer science. It involves removing or ignoring the less important details of a problem to focus on the more important ones.

  • It can be considered as a way of simplifying a problem by filtering out the unnecessary information and focusing on the aspects that are needed to solve the problem.

  • Abstraction allows us to generalise a problem by focusing on the high-level view or concept without dealing with the low-level details.

Applying Abstraction

  • Start by identifying the core aspects or key features of the problem. Discard or ignore the extraneous details that don’t directly contribute to the solution.

  • For example, in designing an online shopping system, abstraction might focus on core features like choosing products, adding to a shopping cart, and payment process. Details like the colour of the buttons or the design of the header might be ignored at this stage.

Benefits of Abstraction

  • It makes problem-solving efficient because it allows focus to be on the most critical parts of a problem.

  • Abstraction enables us to reuse concepts or solutions across similar problems by focusing on what is common or important across those problems.

  • It assists in managing complexity, keeping the problem manageable and avoid getting lost in unnecessary details.

Interplay of Decomposition and Abstraction

  • Decomposition and abstraction often go hand in hand in problem solving. Decomposition assists in breaking down a complex problem into simpler parts, while abstraction focuses on the important aspects, ignoring unnecessary details.

  • Together, they provide a framework for approaching problems systematically and thoroughly.

  • Upon understanding both concepts, one can employ them not only in computer science but in daily problem solving too.