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Pattern Recognition

February 12, 2015

Do a quick Google search on Pattern Recognition and you'll find complex statistical methodology and theories which create models for how we should build pattern recognition into technology. Pattern recognition has applications in computer science, trading stocks, epidemiology and chess, among others. When we apply pattern recognition to health and wellness, its easy to see that certain movements and concepts will emerge throughout the process.  

 

When you see high level athletes perform complex movements, or virtuoso musicians performing difficult pieces, you'll see that the ease at which they perform is based on how many of the skills they have learned and embedded as bottom-up or automatic tasks. 

 

An important concept in improving both cognitive and physical abilities is to find out which skills or methods are essential and appear to reoccur throughout the process. In this sense, you are exercising pattern recognition. 

 

Here's my approach for employing pattern recognition to improve performance: 

 

1. First, choose a suitable model or mentor to learn from. You can engage in distance education or in-person. 

2. Pick out a few common skills that your model employs constantly. 

3. Identify the skills which are flashy but will only hinder your progress as the time reqiurement for learning fancy skills may not have a great payoff. 

 

This is a simple concept, but the difficulty is in distinguishing between the fluff and the substance. If you can understand what few skills lead to the most results, then you will be ahead of the game. 

 

I will use the following video as an example. Efren Reyes is considered one of the best billiards players to ever grace the table. Pool is a great example of skill acquisition as it requires strategy (deeply routed in geometry) and skill in using a plethora of shots. 

 

Pattern recognition can be applied at many levels in this game, but let's pretend you have never played the game before. To start, you must understand that hitting the ball straight and clean is a key skill. You'll see all sorts of other shots, from some side English to draws to multi-rail shots, but these are irrelevant if you can't hit the ball clean. 

 

As a beginner, you must be able to recognize the patterns that reoccur as the ball is hit. Pool players will all know the 90 degree rule, stating that the cue ball will take off tangentially at 90 degrees from the ball it is hitting. You should learn this fairly quickly by watching where the ball goes. 

 

Thus, being able to hit the ball and knowing where the balls will go upon impact are your most important tasks as a beginner. Learning how to snooker your partner or hit bank shots off two rails is a waste of mental effort at this point. 

 

It's easy to get drawn into flashy new methods, but knowing where your optimal efforts lie and executing is what makes pattern recognition so effective. 

 

 

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