[Tutor] Lotka-Volterra Model Simulation Questions

Brian van den Broek brian.van.den.broek at gmail.com
Mon Oct 1 22:05:47 CEST 2012

On 30 September 2012 04:37, Alan Gauld <alan.gauld at btinternet.com> wrote:

> <off topic rant>
> One of the things that makes math hard for people to grasp is its insistence
> on abstracting functions/values to single letter names etc. (especially when
> those names are in a foreign language/symbology,
> like Greek!) Of course, the abstraction is powerful in its own right because
> it can then be applied in multiple domains, but that abstraction is often
> the barrier to people understanding the
> principle. Those that are "good at math" are often really those
> who are "good at abstraction".
> </off topic>

Hi Alan and all,

While I think I see what you mean here, Alan, I cannot quite resist
and, as this thread long since got hopelessly off-topic :-) I feel no
need for restraint.

To a first approximation, mathematics can reasonably be thought of as
the science of abstraction. So, to say (with a hint of complaint) that
those who are good at math are often those who are good at abstraction
seems a bit like complaining that it is those with good spatial
reasoning and a sense of direction that are good at navigation. While
it is indeed possible for mathematical presentation to devolve into
unhelpful abstraction (it is this that I suspect Alan intended to
target), abstraction is of the essence to the enterprise; nothing that
still counts as maths could be easily understood by those without the
ability to think abstractly.

Having posted twice in a half-hour, I resume my lurk-cloak.

Best to all,

Brian vdB

More information about the Tutor mailing list