Describing PatternsDate: 10/23/2002 at 17:44:20 From: Danna Subject: Vocabulary for math What is a pattern? In my math book there isn't a glossary. Date: 10/23/2002 at 18:36:16 From: Doctor Ian Subject: Re: Vocabulary for math Hi Danna, That's actually a pretty deep question, but for practical purposes, we can say that a pattern is any description of a thing that is smaller than the thing. For example, suppose I give you a string of letters like ajfkduehfujeskoowpdokawwenckjhaehgs There's no good way for you to describe this except to just list the letters. However, suppose I give you a string like ababababababababababababab You can summarize that by saying it's 'ab' repeated 13 times Some patterns can be trickier than others. For example, abaabbaaabbbaaaabbbbaaaaabbbbb could be described this way: (a repeated n times, b repeated n times) for n = 1, 2, ... Now, this description is actually longer than the string. But here's what makes it a pattern: The description remains the same size, even if we continue the string out to a million billion trillion repetitions. The same little rule describes the whole string, no matter how big the string gets. And that's what makes it a pattern. Does this make sense? - Doctor Ian, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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