I joined a new company about eight months ago. Up until now, most of the work was more about deploying existing models & doing minor tweaks here & there.
However, I feel the expectation now is to make novel changes to the algorithm. So, I work on a big ML model in TensorFlow. I haven't coded in tensorflow for some time. Theoretically, I read the papers of the code & I understand the model overall. But I don't understand the code; it seems super complicated. It has no comments and does not have the best variable names. I also fear reading it because I've never been that good at deep learning frameworks.
I once asked another co-worker how she/he read the code base. And they just told me it's so easy just to read, which makes me feel more dumb now.
I was thinking of using claude/chat-gpt to understand it. But every time I don't understand anything, it reinforces my mindset of being bad at this.
I don't talk about this to people in my team because I feel dumb asking how basic lines of code work. I feel I want to figure it out myself but how can I develop better mindsets & better approaches for this?
First thing worth saying: it's very normal to feel stupid looking at a new codebase! Don't feel bad about using tools like Claude/ChatGPT to help with comprehension, as long as your company allows that.
Here are some direct tips for making sense of the codebase:
We have a few resources I highly recommend on the topic of new codebases: