Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Lame Lame Lame! (Score 1) 110

by Ambassador Kosh (#48949017) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

The way we teach calculus is based off of rote memorization. You need all the rules to solve the integrals. However, functional analysis is an almost entirely different kind of skill. Functional analysis is based on the theory that underlies calculus but that is usually skipped in order to just teach straight problem solving.

I see skills like functional analysis as more important since you learn what to expect from functions and why. The exact answer a computer can give you but a better understanding of functions will tell you very quickly if you made a major error in setting up the system on a computer, or if there are multiple answer how to determine which is the correct one for your system.

There is just not enough time to teach understanding (since it takes so much experience to gain it) and the memorization of rules for solving integrals and derivatives. Since any cellphone, laptop, tablet, etc can solve integrals and differentials but they can't give you understanding I think we should be spending time on the parts that computers can't do. As a result you can solve more realistic (and FAR harder) problems and you learn far more valuable skills in problem solving.

Comment: Re:I really think it depends (Score 1) 110

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948825) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

I can't even imagine dong that for my subject. It is impressive that you managed to do it and I am thankful I don't have to go down that path.

My Master's thesis will be on chromatography simulations at industrial concentrations with industrial bio-molecules.

Overall I think that computers have helped a lot if used wisely and have enabled entirely new areas of research that are saving hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

They can also definitely be abused but that is a reason to learn how to integrate them effectively that is not a reason to ban them.

Comment: Re:depends on what they use it for (Score 1) 110

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948803) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Tech to read textbooks is great for engineering texts!

With an ebook you can SEARCH. Trying to find out where a table of values I need to pipe roughness or viscosity relationships vs temperature for a certain chemical is so much easier to do with searching. Most engineering books seem to have about a hundred pages or so of just tables, graphs etc at the end.

Comment: Re:Lame Lame Lame! (Score 1) 110

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948795) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Not using tech also limits the problems you can solve and the kinds of approaches you can take.

During an exam there is just no way to solve coupled ODEs or god forbid PDEs but there are a few calculators that can solve those kinds of problems now. This means you can give more realistic equations and get more realistic answers instead of dumbing problems down to the point where a human can do them.

At this point there is no real need to solve an integral, a differential, ODE, PDE, coupled system etc by hand Too much time is spent on this skill a computer can do and not spent on WHY you should setup that ODE. What does it mean? What kind of answers should you get? Will the problem have multiple answers? How do you know which one is the correct one?

We need a better understanding of why. Knowing how to setup a problem to the point where a computer can solve it and knowing that it is the right problem to solve is far more important than memorizing derivative rules and applying them. I can teach a computer to solve a derivative I can't teach it to figure out what the right set of equations to model a problem is.

Comment: Re:This pays credence to my rant about tech (Score 4, Informative) 110

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948755) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

At the college level though I see a different kind of problem. Many of the people from 3rd world countries I have encountered do VERY well at rote memorization tasks and can often solve engineering problems that are almost exactly what they have done before but when you step outside of that they quickly run into problems. I find that american and canadian engineers are more likely to rely on a computer to solve the hard math part but they are much better at figuring out how to define the problem and what should be done to solve it.

I am not sure why but most european countries still seem to do rote memorization for many disciplines and base all grades on a single 2 hour exam. It is all pretty silly. Maybe some day education won't be confused with memorization.

Comment: I really think it depends (Score 1) 110

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948707) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

In grade school I can't think of many good uses of constant tech but there should be times specifically for it to learn.

At the college level it depends on the type of courses. I find that a laptop helps a lot in my engineering classes at bother the undergraduate and now at the masters level.

Especially at the masters level it is easy to look up subjects you need to read more on as the professor mentions then so you can read the articles later. After some classes I will have 20 tabs queued up to read.

Some of my classes even expect you to have a laptop with you since the lessons are sometimes done interactively. Recently we have been working on molecular dynamics simulations and looking at the importance of minimizing energy before a simulation, making sure the random starting point is stable, figuring out the free energy of a reaction etc.

There is a huge gaping difference between someone telling you those things are important and you actually doing them and working along with the class. All of our simulations have also required data analysis and visualization of the data and you are expected to quickly be able to parse various strange text formats and do some fairly complex calculations on the data. We normally use python or matlab.

It is also very useful for solving some of the math problems we run into in classes now. Even when an ODE has an analytically solution you don't want to solve it by hand and a computer present allows you to focus on the understanding of the problem and let the computer solve the math part.

Comment: Re:Free Market at Work (Score 1) 230

by drsmithy (#48945795) Attached to: Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape
Want to see real change and justice? Talk to the actual owners of Uber and see if you can convince them to make a better company.

Uber is run by libertarian psychopaths. Their thought process - though they would obviously never say it in public - is "nobody made you get into the taxi, tough luck".

Even the slightest voluntary attempt to try and ameliorate the risk involved would be an anathema - "nanny state regulation" or some such bullshit - to them.

Comment: Re:Uber does as well, or better (Score 0) 230

by drsmithy (#48945777) Attached to: Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape
Probably better because who can say how many cab drivers make it in via political favors?

Given the life and pay of a taxi driver, I'd go with "sweet fuck all".

People calling in "political favours" to be a *taxi driver* ? Did you even think about that before you wrote it ? Do you think garbage collectors get jobs through "political favours" as well ?

Comment: Re:It does fly, because it works better (Score 0) 230

by drsmithy (#48945763) Attached to: Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape
The problems in the taxi industries worldwide have nothing to do with regulations around safety, and everything to do with the regulations around taxi plates (or "medallions" I think they call them in the states).
Uber vehicles should be required to carry the same safety facilities as a taxi, including video/audio recording and driver duress buttons.
This sort of situation and the absurdly trivial solutions for reducing its risk (what's the cost of a few dash cams ?) were entirely predictable and the only reason Uber did not act proactively was because it's a company run by libertarian psychopaths who think rules shouldn't apply to them.

Comment: Re:Vital information lacking... (Score 1) 485

Actually there is work on making plants more nutritious.

Golden rice is the biggest example of this. It sure is nice that the EU has worked so hard to spread disinformation about it so that tens of millions can be safe, organic and blind without the vitamin A the rice provides.

A more recent example is a tomato that has a tuna protein put in it to prevent freezing. What this allows is to go tomatoes in climates that can not normally grow tomatoes and also grow them later in the year. This is not directly more nutritious but it is indirectly more nutritious since it means more of the tomatoes are allowed to ripen on the vine. Normally many tomatoes are grown far away and ripened synthetically and currently our synthetic ripening is not very good and does not generate the same nutrition content. The local tomatoes are healthier and more environmentally friendly.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen