Friday, January 08, 2010

Back to the Future

I did some lesson planning for my futuristic math class today, filing some fragments here and there, as I'm not trying to hoard. This is free and open source culture after all, much the same as the ambient academe, in terms of not copy-protecting what needs to be shared.

The stack goes in layers, from chip to cloud, with some floors public, others private -- not that hard to visualize. Where it's stuff we all share, like the operating system, you like to check into it, see that it's not doing anything against your best interests. That's why we have SELinux and such distros, or just Linux in general (anyone may double check the source code -- not that that's easy, but some people can, find they learn from doing it).

Of special interest is the mini-language that are Python's format specifiers, newly back ported to 2.6, and the way to get your string outputs the way you like 'em. The cool thing here is your specifiers know how to dig into the guts of the objects sent, using dot notation, dictionary syntax or whatever, just unquoted.

In using Python as a calculator, we're not forbidding ourselves short class definitions, such as something to instantiate a dome, for use on Mars (Earth... Moon) in various ecosystems. One example showed inputting frequency and edge length, say from any pentagon center to a neighboring hub. By the provided algorithm (imported in one line), that's sufficient information provided you're also given the frequency. The result is deterministic at that point. And what you get back are various attributes, such as volume (both in tetra-units and cubes), temperature, cabin pressure, stuff like that. The student isn't expected to write some long script. These aren't necessarily typists we're talking about.

I think I told the story pretty well, of how we made the leap from 2.x to 3.x. I'm also consistent in my view that mono-lingual is worse than bilingual. In the age of unicode, we encourage ogling the full character set. However, here I'm talking about multiple computer languages, and I circle J, inheriting from APL, as a good example of something completely different. Compare it with Python and you'll have a better appreciation for how various are these languages. Don't stop there if you're interested.

Hey, wanted to listen to Good Bye Party music after work but upon stowing the gear I realized I was famished and needed to cook something (rice, potato, broccoli etc.). My daughter is off with a peer group of elders, women from her mother's circle.