[Edu-sig] Math + Python: reviewing some themes (long)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Jan 30 04:53:45 CET 2010

On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 6:40 PM, michel paul <mpaul213 at gmail.com> wrote:

<< SNIP >>

A truly excellent write-up Michel.

I'm glad you're reminding us about Sage.

Your use of "Computational Thinking" (CT) mirrors Maria's suggestion for
what a course of this nature might be called. "Computational Analysis" (CA)
sounds like another option?

FYI, we've continued debating nomenclature (what to call these classes) on


For those of you wishing to join some on-line digital math discussions this
weekend, Maria has this information:



> Oh, but first - if this course does happen I'll be using the Litvins' Math
> for the Digital Age.  I love that book.  I told my prinicipal, "You usually
> don't say of a text that 'It's beautiful', but this one is.  This is a
> beautiful text."
> *M A C H Math Analysis Computational Honors*
> *What does “Computational” mean?*
> "It is said that a concept is demonstrated to have been learned the best
> when one explains that concept to others.  Programming is precisely that -
> an expressive language, used to unambiguously describe all the steps
> involved in problem solving of a certain type."
> - Tony Targonski
> *Computational Thinking* is a new way of thinking that will become just as
> important to a well-educated person in the 21st century as reading and
> writing is today. It has resulted in new inter-disciplinary majors such as
> Computational Linguistics, Computational Biology, Computational Physics, and
> Computational Mathematics, among others. Generally speaking, computational
> thinking is the art of reducing complexity to a set of primitive
> operations.  This way of thinking blends perfectly with the kind of thinking
> that Math Analysis is supposed to be about.
> *Students taking this course should not worry if they have never* *programmed
> before.*  This course will introduce a complete beginner to contemporary
> programming in a way that will enable them to efficiently articulate
> mathematical concepts. *The point of this course is* *not learning to
> program, but programming to learn.* We will be using a very easy to learn
> language called *Python*.
> *What is *Python?**
> Python is a general purpose programming language that has developed a large
> following over the last ten years or so. It is one of the top languages used
> at Google and is also used at NASA, JPL, and YouTube and is continuing to
> gain significant attention. It is an extremely easy and fun language to
> learn. You can immediately begin to use it just like a calculator. It is
> free to everyone and runs on all platforms. It is also an excellent language
> for expressing mathematical ideas, and that is why many mathematicians and
> scientists gravitate towards it. It is just as easy to learn as high school
> Algebra, and learning it will help you better understand Algebra.  After you
> have learned some Python you will be ready to use Sage.
> *What is *SAGE?**
> SAGE is a set of mathematical libraries built on top of Python creating a
> free and open source state of the art CAS, Computer Algebra System, used by
> professional mathematicians, university math departments, and even some high
> school math departments.  SAGE offers Mathematica-like abilities, such as
> detailed 3D color graphing. Cutting edge research is being done with it, but
> it is also quite usable by high school students.  Anyone who knows a little
> Python can immediately begin to use SAGE. You can actually use many of the
> features in SAGE without knowing any Python, but you will be able to use it
> much more effectively if you also know how to think in terms of simple
> Python programs.
> What you will learn in this course is how to *computationally analyze* some
> fundamental ideas of mathematics. Your ability to computationally analyze
> will provide you a good foundation for many important kinds of study and
> career.  A student working through this class will be well prepared both for
> further study of computer science and mathematics.
> "Computer science is the new mathematics."
> -- Dr. Christos Papadimitriou
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