Monthly Archives: March 2009

Stephen Covey and Pope Leo X

The second habit in Stephen Covey’s best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the end in mind.” Pope Leo X would have disagreed. Twyla Tharp tells the story of Pope Leo X and his frustration

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Searching for John Francis

There was an odd story in NA Digest a couple days ago, John Francis of QR found. When I saw that someone was found, I assumed he had lost as in lost at sea, like Jim Gray. But that wasn’t

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Posted in Creativity, Math

When discoveries stay discovered

In what sense did Christopher Columbus discover America? Obviously he wasn’t the first human to step foot on the New World. Columbus wasn’t even the first European. Norwegian explorer Leif Erikson seems to have arrived 500 years before Columbus. But

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Copy and paste warning

Tony Rasa has written a Clippy-like program that will nag you every time you copy and paste code in Visual Studio. See his post AntiPaste, because Pasting Code Is Harmful. It’s a joke, but many a truth is told in

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Posted in Science, Software development

What does “classical” mean in science?

The word “classical” has a standard meaning in the humanities, but not in science. Ward Cheney and Will Light give a candid definition of “classical” in the scientific sense in the introduction to their book on approximation theory: … the

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Kim Possible and cancer research

When I hear of naked mole rats, I think of Rufus, the animated character from Kim Possible. But it turns out the real rodents might be useful in cancer research. According to a recent 60-Second Science podcast, naked mole rats

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Floating point difficulties for game developers

Here is a game developer’s view of the vagaries of floating point arithmetic. Related posts: Five tips for floating point programming Overflow and loss of precision

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MIT replaces Scheme with Python

According to an article on The Snowtide Blog, MIT has decided to teach beginning CS classes in Python rather than Scheme. (Thanks to procoders.net for the link.) The article paraphrases remarks by Gerdald Sussman at the announcement.The main rationale was

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Posted in Python, Software development

Springs, resistors, and harmonic means

Harmonic mean has come up in a couple posts this week (with numbers and functions). This post will show how harmonic means come up in physical problems involving springs and resistors. Suppose we have two springs in series with stiffness

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Means and inequalities for functions

A post on Monday looked at means an inequalities for a lists of non-negative numbers. This post looks at analogous means and inequalities for non-negative functions. We go from means defined in terms of sums to means defined in terms

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Redbelt problem solving

In the movie Redbelt, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mike Terry, a Jiu Jitsu instructor who will fight but will not compete. He will fight in a real fight if necessary, but he won’t fight in a ring because competitions have arbitrary

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Functional in the small, OO in the large

The most recent episode of Software Engineering Radio is an interview with Luke Hoban, program manager for F#. The interview mentioned the idea of using functional programming in the small and object oriented programming in the large. In other words,

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Means and inequalities

The arithmetic mean of two numbers a and b is (a + b)/2. The geometric mean of a and b is √(ab). The harmonic mean of a and b is 2/(1/a + 1/b). This post will generalize these definitions of

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Name that tune

There’s a tune I heard at a concert when I was growing up that has stuck in my head ever since. If you know the name of the tune, please let me know. Full size sheet music audio file Thanks,

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Unicode function names

Keith Hill has a fun blog post on using Unicode characters in PowerShell function names. Here’s an example from his article using the square root symbol for the square root function. PS> function √($num) { [Math]::Sqrt($num) } PS> √ 81

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