[Edu-sig] Feb 24 cs-in-math Elluminate meeting (Math 2.0)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Fri Feb 26 07:07:35 CET 2010

On Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 8:27 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 19:33, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I briefly blogged about our meeting last night.
>> http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2010/02/learning-on-line.html
> Thank you.
>> I posted Ed Cherlin's Chinese + Arabic sig
> Japanese/Urdu in language, but you are correct as to writing system.


Got it, was wondering about that.

Those unicode strings showed up fine in the chat window when I cut and
pasted them, with independent confirmation from a distant reader.

In contrast, my recent unicode tests to the Math Forum show Drexel's
system remembers the entities (the surd and phi symbols in this case)
but doesn't display them.

http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2046042&tstart=0  (fyi)

<< hi Carl >>

> I am a great admirer of the tribe and the languages, although I also
> enjoy the UnLambda language.

Yeah, I'm not eager to feud with the Great Lambda tribe, find them
somewhat intimidating.

I get the sense they've been waiting for a place in the sun a long
time, especially when it comes to math teaching.  All these so-called
imperative / procedural languages (Python among them) just getting in
the way, hogging the road.

>From that point of view, my OOish type stuff is like a bad dream,
because I'm aiming to perpetuate what's supposed to be shriveling on
the vine around now.

Rex Page really doesn't want people using for-loops to explain Sigma
notation (the greek letter thing), says it takes really advanced
mathematics to intelligently discuss for-loops, so we just shouldn't
do it at the pre-college level.

Maria D., somewhat new to this debate, courageously invited those
present at the meeting last night to dive in on these issues, but we
seemed too preoccupied getting a handle on this form of synchronous
communication (the fancy control panel, the division of roles...).

Rex was at our meeting last night as well.


I've recently gone banging on doors in the philosophy department
suggesting long-simmering debates of this nature should be getting a
hearing in those chambers.

Lets get these ostensibly articulate, widely-read individuals to take
a big picture view and play air traffic controller more successfully.

We need to stop squabbling and give a next generation a better ride.
Better to bring these debates to a head, under expert managers, than
to let them simmer and fester decade after decade.  That just leads to
nothing happening.

In recruiting for this cause, I'm hearkening back to when philosophy
was still proudly a source of overview, was at the apex of the trivium
/ quadrivium (co-piloting with theology), its avatars confidant they
could render their diplomatic services across disciplines where

I'm overtly nostalgic for those liberal arts values, associated with
the Italian Renaissance in some degree.

In my readings, the great bugaboo we all need to counter is

Whereas narrowing one's focus is usually considered a "good thing"
(how one becomes "a professional"), I was signaled to read 'Operating
Manual for Spaceship Earth' at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public
Affairs (where I enrolled in some courses).

Now I'm seeing a big need for "glue languages" performing a role
analogous to Python's in a computerized ecosystem (Python plays well
with others, talks to lots of different software).

Philosophers should consider it a part of their job description to
come up with better glue languages (ones humans might use).  Douglas
Hofstadter has done valuable of work in this direction, with 'Godel
Escher Bach' etc.   And what about Wolfram?

>> The Great Lambda worshipers are a tribe to our north, inherit through
>> LISP, LOGO and Scheme, although that middle language donated its
>> turtle to the OO camp, also working in Ruby right?
> And in Turtle Art, written in Python, on Sugar.

We have this sort of punk grunge techno-anarchist coffee shop called
Duke's Landing on SE Belmont that's like a HQS for XO activity.
Michael D. is always upgrading his, is now running that Xtra Ordinary
system on one of them.

I contributed an XO to the mix just the other night in fact, in the
context of one of our 'Vegans not Pigs' events (bands get together and
play, then eat vegan food cooked on the premises and marvel at how
affordable that is, only $2 a plate -- but then Evelyn fries up her
chicken as an option, for extra $).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/17157315@N00/4317536243/  (event poster)
(XO at Duke's)
http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2010/02/doing-math.html  (event writeup)

My journals and Photostream are full of pro-XO propaganda.  I've done
some of the better pictures I think.


I love that they go to the trouble at the XO website to talk about the
skull-and-bones motif, i.e. the O could be a skull, the X some crossed
bones.  They're not saying that's right, but at least they address the


The bias in this conversation is that a skull-and-bones would be bad,
but then part of kid culture is to romanticize pirates so I really
don't see a need to get defensive about that particular connotation.
That would be my spin in case anyone asks.

>> http://www.rubyquiz.com/quiz104.html
>> http://blog.notahat.com/posts/4
>> Re:  "Great Lambda worshipers":  talking about the functional
>> programming camp, not wanting to pollute thinking like a mathematician
>> with the "mutable variables" of the computer scientists.
> There are many kinds of mathematician. I worked a bit with Ken Iverson
> of APL and J fame on how to add combinatory logic abstraction to J and
> other languages, and published a paper on it. J supports several
> flavors of Computer Science and math, including FP, OO, and
> traditional APL.

Yes, Kenneth helped me fix a couple typos on my beginner-level web
page called 'Jiving in J'.  Way back to the beginning of this edu-sig
archive, you'll find me bringing up J and APL, just as you do.  I
admire them both.

I brought up J over on math-thinking-l as well, but didn't get any
takers.  I don't get the feeling anyone frequenting that list is
actually familiar with J, even if calling themselves a functional

One needs more than one paradigm to know what "paradigm" means,
so I would at least advocate for a minimum of two paradigms in any
subject claiming to teach about paradigms.  Whether K-12 should is
an open question, however, Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions
has been around long enough to have made these concepts rather
universal.  So I'm all for OO and FP as a minimal combo, though others
will think of others.  I like the J language, and wonder if that's embraced
as functional programming by anyone.  Inherits from APL.

[  http://mail.geneseo.edu/pipermail/math-thinking-l/2010-February/000616.html

>> Python has "little lambda" (a token lambda).
>> We seemed pretty much in agreement during this meeting that Computer
>> Science is going away as a high school discipline, leaving only
>> Mathematics (cite:  death of CS AP test, only a pale shadow of its
>> former self).
> I am working on Third Grade CS, in Turtle Art and Smalltalk.

Yeah, we're not all in the same namespace here.  The politics in
Oregon is to eliminate CS with an eye towards freeing CS teachers to
finally teach something for credit (high school math) not just an
elective, for which too many people, especially young women, just
don't have the time.

Per my Great Bugaboo above (over-specialization), my bias is to
question specialization getting in too early.

At our meeting in London hosted by Shuttleworth Foundation (Alan Kay
present), a South African math teacher, really good at her job, kept
saying "I teach students, not subjects" by which she meant whole
individual human beings were her focus, not academic turfdoms that, at
the end of the day, all need to co-exist inside each individual mind.

Maybe we should just have one subject through age 15 called "language
games for children" that's all-encompassing, includes outdoor sports,
other activities.  Or call it "philosophy" if you like.

Then we specialize later, become computer scientists, mathematicians,
pirates, clowns or whatever.  But we start out with something more
integrated and whole.

>> The only question seems to be whether folding CS into Math means
>> keeping some programming, or going with the New Zealand unplugged
>> route (CS on paper).
>> I'm not sure even New Zealand is going the NZ unplugged route.  Nat
>> Torkington has a say:
>> http://nathan.torkington.com/
>> Lets see how students "vote with their feet" on that one, i.e. it's
>> not entirely up to the teachers.
> Amen, brothers and sisters. That's my greatest hope for giving
> children Internet access on XOs, that we will be able to hear from
> them, and they will be able to hear from each other in numbers for the
> first time.

Per blog, I went to the wrong virtual Elluminate session at first,
owing to some last minute changes.

The session I sat in on was more about generic collaboration tools and
their role in distance education these days, the big difference
they're making.

One of the participants made the good point that these technologies
were changing interpersonal dynamics, as you can't so easily shout
down, dominate, monopolize discussions in these tools, even those
designed to bring people together synchronously.

She said in the actual classroom she'd always been the shy wallflower
type, never got a word in edgewise, but since moving to these
alternative Internet tools, she'd found her voice, her ability to get
into the game and stay there.

Loud guys with strong opinions were no longer part of her obstacle
course, praise Allah.

I bring that up to underline your hopes, for children getting to speak
up for themselves more.

If our cyber-environment serves children better, then probably more
adults will feel better served as well.

Many hitherto marginalized and/or semi-voiceless players have new
reasons for hope, given the spread of collaborative technologies.


> --
> Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
> Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
> The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
> http://www.earthtreasury.org/

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