[Edu-sig] CTL: Computer Thinking Language

Jason Axelson bostonvaulter at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 22:41:10 CET 2009

As a current college student myself, I feel like chiming in here.

2009/3/2 michel paul <mpaul213 at gmail.com>:
> However, it is again more mathematically effective to read "2 + 3 * 4" as
> "the sum of 2 and the product of 3 and 4", or,  sum(2, product(3, 4)).  No
> ambiguity there!  And this is how you have to think when you hook chains of
> functions together.  This kind of stuff could be done very early in the
> curriculum.  Doesn't have to wait for either advanced math classes or
> computer science.

Perhaps it may be appropriate to try and introduce prefix notation to
students, such as what lisp uses. So instead of "2 + 3 * 4" or sum(2,
product(3, 4)) it would be (+ 2 (* 3 4)). Unfortunately, that might
make their eyes glaze over, but you could state how it is unambiguous
and maybe formalize infix notation for them.

> Math teachers often forget, or are unaware, that the ordinary arithmetic
> operators are themselves functions.  I think it would be good for math
> classes to explore this kind of functional composition for very simple
> ideas.

Personally I found that being able to think about many math concepts
as functions helped me a great deal with managing the complexity of
many math courses. Just my 2 cents.


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