Math Classes Every College Should Teach

Math 40: Trying to Visualize a Fourth Dimension. Syllabus includes Flatland, the Wikipedia page for “hypercube,” long hours of squinting, and self-inflicted head injuries.

Math 99: An Irritating Introduction to Proof. The term begins with five weeks of the professor responding to every question with, “But how do you knoooooooow?” If anyone is still enrolled at that point, we’ll have to wing it, since no one has ever lasted that long.

Math 101: Binary. An introductory study of the binary numeral system. Also listed as Math 5.

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Topological maps or topographic maps?

While surfing the web the other day I read an article in which the author refers to a “topological map.” I think it is safe to say that he meant to write “topographic map.” This is an error I’ve seen many times before.

A topographic map is a map of a region that shows changes in elevation, usually with contour lines indicating different fixed elevations. This is a map that you would take on a hike.

A topological map is a continuous function between two topological spaces—not the same thing as a topographic map at all!

I thought for sure that there was no cartographic meaning for topological map. It turns out, however, that there is.

A topological map is a map that is only concerned with relative locations of features on the map, not on exact locations. A famous example is the graph that we use to…

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Python’s Weak Performance Matters

Here is an argument I used to make, but now disagree with:

Just to add another perspective, I find many “performance” problems in
the real world can often be attributed to factors other than the raw
speed of the CPython interpreter. Yes, I’d love it if the interpreter
were faster, but in my experience a lot of other things dominate. At
least they do provide low hanging fruit to attack first.

[…]

But there’s something else that’s very important to consider, which
rarely comes up in these discussions, and that’s the developer’s
productivity and programming experience.[…]

This is often undervalued, but shouldn’t be! Moore’s Law doesn’t apply
to humans, and you can’t effectively or cost efficiently scale up by
throwing more bodies at a project. Python is one of the best languages
(and ecosystems!) that make the development experience fun, high
quality, and very efficient.

(from Barry Warsaw)

I…

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