[plt-scheme] Re: Why "lambda"?

From: Andrei Estioco (chadestioco at gmail.com)
Date: Mon Jun 1 10:57:09 EDT 2009

Hear, hear YC. Symbols really *do* matter. Although with regards to the
Physics part, I beg to disagree.
I just took Physics (this particular course covering Classic Newtonian
Mechanics). I really had trouble with the variables. Sometimes T (in caps)
refers to period, sometimes to tension. Then there's small rho (for density)
and p (for pressure). I've had the time of my life trying to figure out if
the symbol is small rho or p, their only difference being that, the upper
left edge of small rho is smooth. When the system in question gets complex,
this can be quite a pain in the neck (literally and figuratively).

Suddenly, I remembered one of the things my most recent Computer Science
instructor prioritized in grading our code: good variable names.

(Sure, subscripts are quite handy in the abovementioned case. I found them
useful when I solve at home. However, I found them pesky in face of exam
time pressure)

Well, just thought I'd give some opinion. I'm a student and it sounds like
most of you here are educators. To balance things pretty well.

2009/6/1 YC <yinso.chen at gmail.com>

> On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 11:41 AM, Jos Koot <jos.koot at telefonica.net>wrote:
>> That does not sound like a sound idea. Learning programming, or maths or
>> music is like learning a language. The alphabet is part of it. If you don't
>> master the alphabet, you can'r read communications of others.
>> There is a (small) possibility you only want to understand the essentials
>> without being disturbed by a new language (cq alphabet). But if the subject
>> catches you and you want to read more about it, ignorance of the language
>> gives you no access to other literature.
>> We are even lucky compared to Chinese people, I think. May be we should
>> use Chinese characters in our maths too. A very rich set of new symbols!
> Yes the symbol matters.  I would love to see someone experiment with using
> Chinese characters and see what happens.  It's just abstractions right?
> Then one should have no issue picking up the following two equations with
> equal ease.
> 能 = 量光^2
> E = MC^2
> At least physics equations' choice of symbols often have direct meanings,
> which aids understanding.  Math symbols often appeared arbitrary.
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Chad Estioco
BS Computer Science (ongoing)
University of the Philippines-Diliman
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