Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pandering to Muggles (editorial)

From what I've been able to dig up, the Common Core Math standards, as promulgated by a nebulous body of self-appointed experts, is devoid of any bases other than 10.

The so-called "alternative bases" are given short shrift.  But how do we learn what base 10 is, minus attention to other bases?  That's just for openers.

This omission would not have mattered so much if this curriculum outline were treated for what it is, a proposed outline, but apparently the IEEE is bending over backwards to demonstrate support for Common Core Math.

Go figure.

A lot has to do with CS (computer science) being purely elective and Math being required.  You need three years of math, or maybe four in some states, to graduate high school, and zero CS credits.

The good engineers are grateful for whatever breadcrumbs fall off the table.

However in Oregon, "CS-friendly math" is allowed by law and there's no such excuse for not teaching it.  Write to the Governor if you don't believe me.

I'd think any self-respecting engineer would have something to say about "mathematics" focusing only on base 10 topics.

That's not real mathematics, that's pabulum, unworthy of any proud nation on Earth.  Our global civilization hums on digits 0-F.  That's right, on hexadecimals.

I'm frankly quite disgusted with IEEE's spinelessness.  Why openly support something so manifestly deficient?  Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation go along with this travesty?

Not taking a stand for CS-friendly mathematics, as a part of our everyday Oregon State math curriculum, looks like pure cowardice, or worse.

Lets review some hallmarks of any "CS-friendly math".  Here's a check list:

(1) not all functions use numbers (lexical domain used)
(2) a REPL is introduced (calculator was a first step)
(3) functions of more than one step are saved and reused
(4) Euclid's method is introduced
(5) includes Euler's function "the totient" of N
(6) introduces number bases other than 10, esp. 2 (binary) & 16 (hex)
(7) friendly to cryptography as a topic, also standard encodings (QR codes)
(8) introduces prefix notation for operators (per Scheme and LISP)
(9) introduces dot notation (per most OO languages)

That's right, this is Math that we're talking about, not Computer Science.  STEM has no "CS".  Sure, it has Engineering but that's no excuse for Math to stay so lame and irrelevant.