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Re: learning curve

From: Michael Banck
Subject: Re: learning curve
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 10:40:57 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

This is ridiculous. I am going to unsubscribe from bug-hurd the next
time I see such an off-topic thread again.


On Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 08:24:21AM +0100, Arne Babenhauserheide wrote:
> Am Dienstag, 17. November 2009 22:38:39 schrieb olafBuddenhagen@gmx.net:
> > The problem with learning bit by bit is that you only look up things if
> > you want to do something new. You never get a complete picture; you
> > never learn how you could do things more efficiently, and/or with better
> > result; and you often pick up really bad practices.
> I tend to disagree here, too. 
> You do pick up back practise if you only check what is absolutely necessary 
> to 
> get the task at hand done (as I often do for shell scripting). 
> If you check deeper issues when you need them, you understand something new 
> and you learn to work more efficiently. 
> Look for example at the Mercurial guide I wrote. At first you only learn to 
> commit and read your log. At that point you already understand that Mercurial 
> tracks your changes - and after using it a bit, you also get a feeling for 
> what commit does. 
> Then you learn how to do nonlinear development, branching and merging at 
> will. 
> Committing is already natural at that point, so you only enhance what you 
> already know by heart. 
> And after that you learn that working together with others is simply 
> nonlinear 
> development by exchanging "commits" between repositories. 
> In really complex areas that becomes even more evident. 
> One example: I'm studying physics, and I learned this summer with the Feynman 
> lectures, which hammer home the point that statistics tell us that the 
> distribution of particles with certain energies is exp(-E/kT) - that's "e" to 
> the potential of minus the energy divided by the temperature (and the 
> Boltzmann constant). He explains that for gases at first (energy distribution 
> in different heights - only from gravity and random movement energy). The 
> distribution says "this many particles with Energy E are there". 
> At that point he never talks about the difference between bose particles and 
> fermi particles. He also doesn't try to give the whole mechanism, but rather 
> gives a central part of the whole picture. 
> Now when I got to learning suprafluids and stuff, it was quite easy to 
> understand what their slightly different distribution does: 
> 1 / (exp(E/kT) - 1)
> That's almost exp( - E/kT), but for low energies it goes to infinity - 
> because 
> the lowest state of a suprafluid can be shared by an arbitrary high number of 
> particles - if you only manage to take away enough energy from them. That's 
> why it can crawl over walls, ignores rotations of the container and such. 
> To really see the implications of that, you already need to know about , 
> Heisenbergs uncertainty relation for the gaussian distribution of energies, 
> quantum mechanics, energy barriers and stuff. But you don't need to 
> understand 
> that to grasp the basic law exp(-E/kt). 
> And really understanding the basic law makes it much easier to understand 
> more 
> complex stuff later on - understanding everything at once is just not 
> feasible 
> for the vast majority of physics students. 
> When you already know exp(-E/kT), many later things are "wow, it's really 
> easy 
> to see how that works - just a small alteration to the basic distribution". 
> (there are more basic principles in physics than this, but that's one which 
> currently fascinates me; it is so easy - once you udnerstand it :) 
> And Feynman really manages to make physics sound as fascinating as it is, 
> while keeping it easy to understand). 
> To organize learning that way makes for a very efficient learning curve. 
> (actually he starts with "all matter is made of atoms (as long as we don't 
> look to deep)" and "we begin with small lies which make it easier to 
> understand the basics - but we tell you which laws are final (to our current 
> knowledge) and which are simplifications we'll have to revise" and goes 
> onward 
> from that). 
> > In either case, you can't seriously argue that it's demanding too much,
> > that everyone learning how to set the text color, should also learn how
> > to set the background color at the same time, and vice versa...
> And the button color, and the text field color (almost no site changes that), 
> ... 
> What's missing there is a way to adapt to user settings. What you describe is 
> binary again: Either set all or nothing. But that means that it doesn't 
> integrate at all or integrates completely - without middle ground. 
> But we already had that part of the discussion... 
> Best wishes, 
> Arne
> PS: I think that this can be relevant to the Hurd, because the learning curve 
> is something which also affects every program, translator usage, etc. - and 
> so 
> it affects how easy it is for people to switch to the Hurd. 

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