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

From: Neil Toronto (ntoronto at cs.byu.edu)
Date: Tue May 26 21:25:32 EDT 2009

wooks wrote:
> On May 26, 8:50 pm, "Jos Koot" <jos.k... at telefonica.net> wrote:
>> With respect, I disagree. It takes no more than one hour to memorize both the Greek and the Hebrew alphabet.
>> Widen your horizon.
>> Jos
> English, Scheme (because I wanted to), Java (because I had to),
> Miranda, predicate logic, Latex (if I go on to do research), Emacs
> (although I get by with Vim for the moment) HTML, CSS, XML and SQL (if
> I go back to industry)  and some other spoken language (because I
> ought to) provides plenty for my average sized brain to cope with.

For Greek, it's an extra 31 symbols (many capitals are shared with 
Latin), and you probably already know alpha, beta, Delta, lambda, pi, 
Sigma and Omega. For Hebrew... well, I've only needed to know the first 

 From an information-theoretic standpoint, by memorizing a simple 
mapping from symbols to names, you'll be able to hold more knowledge in 
your average-sized brain if some of it only exists with Greek letters. 
Naming things that are used more than once is compression.

 From an expected-utility standpoint, the one-time cost of memorizing is 
utterly swamped by time wasted renaming symbols in equations or hunting 
for Latin-alphabet-only sources. Think of these costs as accumulating 
over the course of your life.

You can amortize the cost of memorizing by printing out a table, taping 
it on your wall, and resolving symbols you come across to names in the 
table. You'll have each memorized after three or four lookups. I did 
that my first week in grad school and never regretted it.

If you're not convinced, well... I know that space-bounded AIs and /homo 
economicus/ would be.

Neil T

Posted on the users mailing list.