[Edu-sig] Update from Urner

Kirby Urner urnerk@qwest.net
Thu, 25 Jul 2002 00:01:57 -0700

As a previously very active poster here on edu-sig, I thought
I'd drop in to say I'm still focused on math-through-programming
(as a great way to teach), but am off sojourning in J these days.

Earlier, Tim Peters pointed me to ISETL as in some ways a precursor
to Python, and that was cool (I enjoyed my experiences with that
language).  He also pointed me to 'Concrete Mathematics' as a
paradigm text at the college level, which was a good resource
(good to work back from in K-12).  I was a philosophy major in
the old days and don't necessarily know what's what in computer

I find Kenneth Iverson has these same interests (math through
programming), has already done a companion to 'Concrete Mathematics',
and is working on another re 'The Book of Numbers' (Conway and
Guy).  Excellent!

Ken helped me with a close read of my first J essay:
http://www.inetarena.com/~pdx4d/ocn/Jlang.html (he found a
few typos, a misused grammatical term (conjunctive instead
of conjunction), and suggested I include viewmat, though not
in quite the way I did (to look at totient(n) powers modulo n)).

APL was the first language I really got into, in the 1970s, but
I'd lost track of Ken (APL's designer), and hadn't really tuned
in J until some J guy hit my Python-focused website
( http://www.inetarena.com/~pdx4d/ocn/cp4e.html  ) and suggested
I check it out.

Why is this relevant?  Well, I'm always going to be a Python
fan, so that'll keep bubbling up in my postings to math
teacher groups (another one of those just tonight:
(see mine of 25 July 2002 re passing functions to functions,
with Python illustrating)).

The fact that I'm mixing it up with J (long, steep learning
curve) is probably somewhat indicative of where I might be
finding synergies and curriculum ideas.  Fortune tellers
will tell.

Perhaps some other Pythoneers tracking this list have some
overlap with J as well?  Anyone care to opine re J? (I see
D. Ajoy on Jforum -- he's been helpful with Python, used to
send me Logo programs in Spanish too).

Cliff Nelson is over there too, but I'm not planning to argue
with him anymore (we've mostly argued to date, maybe cuz he
likes Ada-the-language whereas I like Ada-the-girl [1]).

Question:  why do both J and Python define 0**0 (or 0^0 in J)
to be 1, when mathematicians (and Wolfram's Mathematica) call
this undefined?  Speaking of Wolfram, I did the simplest
cellular automata from NKS in J.  Output looks like this:
http://www.inetarena.com/~pdx4d/ocn/graphics/Jnks1.png (this
is after doing similar stuff in Python -- posted about it to
this list in late May of this year).


[1] http://www.grunch.net/synergetics/adaessay.html