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Topic: Computer Math Experiments
Replies: 1   Last Post: Feb 1, 2008 12:17 PM

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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,713
Registered: 12/6/04
Computer Math Experiments
Posted: Jan 30, 2008 7:38 PM
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Greetings math teachers --

I haven't posted in awhile, but not for lack of
involvement in math teaching initiatives. I've
continued in my role of ambassador from the Silicon
Forest, presenting to teacher candidates our vision
of an ideal curriculum. Of course our vision gets
mixed with others, watered down, but that still
doesn't get us off the hook of needing to be
socially responsible and, more selfishly, working
to supply ourselves some future coworkers and team
mates (recruiting a next generation of Silicon Forester
- -- explains 'recruiter' in my blog profile).

There's a lot of overlap with what's gone before,
with big emphasis on Fibonacci, not just for those
numbers and their phi relationship (cite NCLB poly-
nomial), but for the benefit of our historical narrative
(surprise: a time dimension in math class) all about
the "zero" ands its east to west migration, resulting
in Europe's colonial period (thanks to vastly improved
navigation skills, but also accounting skills i.e.
money management (building a navy is expensive)).
Thanks to pioneering in Baghdad, the abacus and
corresponding "sand figures" (or paper arithmetic),
we learned to do double entry bookkeeping (everything
must balance at the end of the day).

Not just Fibonacci though: Pascal very important, and
his triangle (yes, there were Chinese counterparts).
We write the Fibonacci sequence, Pascal's triangle, and
the sphere packing formula 10*n**2 + 2 (see Sloane's
OEIS) as Python generators, although the current version
of Pippy on the XOs (OLPC, another NCLB type intiative,
MIT-backed, along with OpenCourseWare) may not yet do
it that way.

Speaking of Europe, I was interviewed by video link
from Germany today, from Westfälische Wilhelms-
Universität Münster, Institut für Didaktik der
Mathematik und der Informatik (reads pretty easily
don't it?). Portland's reputation as "open source
capital" (per Christian Science Monitor) is continuing
to spread. Makes sense that we'd be mixing our tools
of the trade with our math teaching more successfully.
Leaving Boston in the dust?

And remember gnu math teachers: "unit sphere" not
"unit circle." Slap your own wrist if you forgot (smile).

Kirby Urner
4D Solutions
Portland, Oregon

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