In this illustration, Ada, Alan, and Grace are each taking apart some of the machines we have seen in other scenes. But decomposition isn’t only about disassembling objects. It’s also about pulling apart the steps of a process. Some things that we think of as a single action are actually a composite of many smaller actions. For example we may say that we are going to make dinner. But when we apply decomposition, we find that making dinner actually means to opening the refrigerator, getting out the broccoli, cutting up an onion, turning on the stove, and many other small steps.

A difficult computational problem can sometimes be solved by thinking of the overall task as being made up of many smaller, simpler tasks. Decomposition involves identifying those smaller tasks and how they fit together. The more times you do this, the easier it gets. Just ask Ada, who is taking apart an orb. Even though each of the orbs is a little different, she has a pretty good idea of what pieces she’s going to find when she takes one apart.

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