The reverse engineering learning process is similar to that of foreign language acquisition for adults. The first phase of learning a foreign language begins with an introduction to letters in the alphabet, which are used to construct words with well-defined semantics. The next phase involves understanding the grammatical rules governing how words are glued together to produce a proper sentence. After being accustomed to these rules, one then learns how to stitch multiple sentences together to articulate complex thoughts. Eventually it reaches the point where the learner can read large books written in different styles and still understand the thoughts therein. At this point, one can read reference books on the more esoteric aspects of the language—historical syntax, phonology, and so on.

In reverse engineering, the language is the architecture and assembly language. A word is an assembly instruction. Paragraphs are sequences of assembly instructions. A book is a program. However, to fully understand a book, the reader needs to know more than just vocabulary and grammar. These additional elements include structure and style of prose, unwritten rules of writing, and others. Understanding computer programs also requires a mastery of concepts beyond assembly instructions.

It can be somewhat intimidating to start learning an entirely new technical subject from a book. However, we would be misleading you if we were to claim that reverse engineering is a simple learning ...

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