SAS Programming for All Types

Rick Aster

SAS programming really is for all types of people. To illustrate this, I’ll be discussing the types of the Gregorc mind-style model, which groups people into four cognitive styles according to the characteristic focus and flow of their thoughts: a concrete or abstract focus and a sequential or random flow. The following sections list each of the four styles and describe how they relate to SAS programming. Try to identify your mind style using this system. Then read about the advantages it gives you in SAS programming work and tips about ways you might improve on the potential weaknesses of your mind style.

Concrete sequential. You may fall into this category if you tend to think logically, in an orderly, step-by-step fashion.

Advantages: This style fits right in with the SAS language’s step-by-step style. Unlike people with other mind styles, you may find it easy to finish a program you’re working on and not leave anything out.

Tips: Data is abstract, but you don’t have to think of it in abstract terms. You may have an easier time thinking about a file of data a program is working on if you look at several lines of data in the file and try to visualize the actual people or things the data represents.

Concrete random. You may fall into this category if you are inventive and better at coming up with ideas than with following through and completing things.

Advantages: You’ll find it easy to find out about and make use of the many features and options that SAS software presents. Rather than feeling stumped by a difficult programming challenge, you may enjoy the search for solutions.

Tips: Most SAS programming tasks don’t require new ideas. Look for ways to save time by re-using your code and adapting other people’s code.

Abstract sequential. You may fall into this category if you love ideas and tend to see how everything fits together.

Advantages: This style meshes with SAS software’s characteristic linear way of processing data. You find it easy to understand the specific details of the way a SAS program works. With this mind style, you’re well suited to the mostly solitary work of a programmer.

Tips: You might have to make a special effort to find out the practical value of the work you’re doing. Talk to the right people and ask questions until you’re clear about the objective and purpose of a programming task.

Abstract random. You may fall into this category if you are people-oriented and have gut feelings about everything.

Advantages: Compared to most people, you find it easy to work on several programs at once and to keep track of disorganized and disconnected bits of information that come in. You probably know who can help you with information you need to complete a task. You save work by copying ideas or code from other people.

Tips: You don’t have to be as disorganized as the world around you often appears to be. Double-check programs when you finish them to make sure they do everything they’re supposed to do. Then store them in a systematic way and keep track of them.