The One About Pattern Recognition in Computational Thinking

As it sounds, pattern recognition is all about recognizing patterns. Specifically, with computational thinking, pattern recognition occurs as people study the different decomposed problems.

“There are common ways we see patterns. Patterns are the laws of nature and life that present themselves in all disciplines of life — from the smallest microorganism to macrocosm…While patterns aren’t always apparent, they are continuous and autonomous.” Amy Oestreicher

Through analysis, students recognize patterns or connections among the different pieces of the larger problem. These patterns can be both shared similarities and shared differences. This concept is essential to building understanding amid dense information and goes well beyond recognizing patterns amongst sequences of numbers, characters, or symbols.

Pattern Recognition

Examples of Pattern Recognition in Everyday Life

Pattern recognition is the foundation of our knowledge. As infants, we used patterns to make sense of the world around us, to begin to respond verbally and grow our language skills, and to develop behavioral responses and cultivate connections in this world.

Beyond this, pattern recognition also occurs when scientists are trying to identify the cause of a disease outbreak by looking for similarities in the different cases to determine the source of the outbreak.

Additionally, when Netflix recommends shows based on your interests or a chat bot pesters you on a website, the technology (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) rely on pattern recognition.

Personally, I used pattern recognition recently when I created a food diary for my dog to identify the source of his newest allergic reaction. The culprit? Fish. And this is to add to a long list including red meat, chicken, bison, and grains. But I digress.

For more on Computational Thinking, check out The Ultimate Guide to Computational Thinking for Educators.

Examples of Pattern Recognition in Curriculum

Pattern recognition applies in the classroom as well.

English Language Arts: Students begin to define sonnets based on similarities in separate examples.

Mathematics: Students recognize the specific formulas used to calculate slopes and intercepts.

Science: Students classify animals based on their characteristics and articulate common characteristics for the groupings.

Social Studies: Students identify the potential impact different economic trends reap by looking at data.

Languages: Students group different words in a foreign language by looking at their roots to build a better understanding of vocabulary.

Arts: Students categorize paintings based on commonalities between artists’ aesthetics and detail key characteristics that each grouping presents.


Examples of Pattern Recognition in Computer Science

And in computer science and coding, pattern recognition helps students identify similarities between decomposed problems. If they are coding a game, they may recognize similar objects, patterns, and actions. Finding these allows them to apply the same, or slightly modified, string of code to each, which makes their programming more efficient.

Pattern recognition in computer science

Through the quest to build understanding in unfamiliar scenarios or in the face of uncertainty, students learn to persist through iteration and experimentation and accept that failure and struggle are a part of the learning process.

What's Next? Check out our articles on decomposition, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking.

Insights By

Anna McVeigh-Murphy

Anna is equip’s managing editor, though she also likes to dabble in writing from time to time. Anna is passionate about helping educators leverage technology to connect with and learn from each other. In pursuing digital learning communities, she has worked with several hundred educators to tell their stories and share their insights via online publications. Outside of this, she has also led professional development for teachers in both English and Arabic and served as the primary editor for several university professors writing both book chapters and journal articles. Anna is also an avid baker and self-described gluten enthusiast, a staunch defender of the oxford comma, and a proud dog mom to two adorable rescue pups.

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