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Topic: More gnu math threads
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kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
More gnu math threads
Posted: Mar 20, 2012 3:06 PM
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Continuing some Gnu Math threads....

A. Mappings and Permutations:

As a good way to get away from just arithmetic "number crunching" and
into "fifth literacy" mode, we focus on the geography and lexical
hierarchy of "domain names".

Top level domains include many two-letter country codes, and since the
opening of the top-level to non-ASCII characters based on a
standardized mapping, there's an opportunity to study unicode. (see II D: ascii and unicode)

For example, a "flying circus" I frequent (people fly in from all
over) is called Pycon and it lives on the web as

In front of one may put two letter country codes, or perhaps
non-ASCII identifiers.

Sri Lanka, for example, has the ASCII code LK but then also Tamil and
Sinhalese top-level pointers to the same space.

That's a geography lesson in practice, even as we slice into the
concept of Unicode and its antecedent ASCII.

The ideas of subsets, unions, intersections, are worth reinforcing in
the context of this unicode point system.

Not all prefixes / subdomains in have to be country codes. is more regional. points to a wiki page (in Portuguese) but then Brazilians
have not been branding their flying circus event as a Pycon, whereas
the Australians have.

Many geek Pythonistas are old enough to have young adult children
growing up within Python Nation.

At the most recent Pycon in Santa Clara, we had lots of gnu math
teachers there to explain more about unicode and geography.

The place was packed (about 1000 more than originally planned for --
fortunately the Convention Center is spacious, like Portland's).

B. Spatial Geometry (planar a sub-case):

I've continued to hoe the Martian Math row. I've noticed more than a
few imitators, some of whom flatter me.

This is more Literature Department than Mathematics in that we're
exploring science fiction as a space for the collective imagination to
plan for / anticipate change.

I take up the different ways in which ETs have been treated in the
literature, and in that context introduce an "alien" spatial geometry
that comes with different props and exercises than they (the students)
have probably been exposed to in their schools for Earthlings.

I ran this at Reed College last year and have an invite to run it at
University of Portland this year.

Edgar Allan Poe feeds into our mix, along with a bevy of other
writers. His essay "Eureka" is a transcendentalist work. (per panel
discussion GWU / 2005).

We do not expect our students to have read all these authors, but we
do want them to get used to hearing about the heroes of our literary

I use Ernest Hemingway "kicking the can down the road" as a metaphor
for the __next__ method in Python's iterator protocol, for example.

Not that all of our heroes and role models are literary figures.
Linus Pauling, Muhammad Ali, Bayard Rustin... Allison Randal, Richard
Stallman... plus lots of companies (Canonical, Idealist, Urban

Quaker schools / libraries / values have been influential (some
special relationship with Grays?)


I've written about Occupy Portland and designs around Washington High
School, where Linus Pauling went as a boy, back when he was living at
our think tank building (ISEPP).

A group that meets there (Wanderers) knows a lot about my work with
Python Nation as well as with the Ministry of Education we set up
around OPDX in order to provide some follow-through experience for new

The Pauling House and the Quaker Meetinghouse on nearby Stark both owe
a lot to Electroscientific Instruments (ESI). Doug Strain, a founder
of ESI, had been a student of Linus Pauling.

Their factory building, earlier Jantzen's, later morphed into the
Friends meeting house.

Lew Scholl, one of the Friends, has created good quality Google Earth
3D versions of both Pauling House and Stark Street Meetinghouse. He
comes to Wanderers sometimes.
(Stark Street Meetinghouse)

This ties us back to the earlier geography and spatial geometry
threads. Got your schools in 3D yet? We do.

Washington High School is where Earth Day was held, featuring a lot of
the same outdoor art / technology featured at Rainbow Gathering and
Burning Man.

Kirby Urner
Oregon Curriculum Network
Hawthorne District / Portland

Message was edited by: kirby urner

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