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

From: wooks (wookiz at hotmail.com)
Date: Sun May 31 04:43:13 EDT 2009

On May 30, 10:30 pm, Shriram Krishnamurthi <s... at cs.brown.edu> wrote:
> On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 4:48 PM, wooks <woo... at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > On May 30, 7:54 pm, Shriram Krishnamurthi <s... at cs.brown.edu> wrote:
> >> > As for Cohen, I am willing to forgive him everything because he
> >> > clearly empathises with the student he is writing for.
> >> So do many people who write in Greek (which apparently includes Cohen).
> > Thats for the student to judge. I have no doubt that the people who do
> > it think they do.
> No, you're only in a position to judge whether an author *appears* to
> empathize.

There are specific specific comments Cohen made that led me to make
that statement.

I would be a fool to trumpet my educational accomplishments on this
list...but I've reached a point where I  can tell the difference.

> Furthermore, every educator on this list has had the experience of
> students who returned years later and said, "You made me do X several
> years ago, and I disliked/hated/didn't understand the point to it, but
> now I do, so thank you".  Sticking with such X's is also a kind of
> empathy, but one that a student is literally unable to judge in the
> short term.

Been there done that. It's usually (but not always) the case. For

I'm unlikely to ever thank Bernard Kolman from bringing out 9 editions
of Linear Algebra and it's Applications. Sure there is empathy going
on there but it's not with the student being asked to fork out $110
every time an unnecessary new edition comes out. Neither am I ever
likely to thank him for using a Proof Definition and Lemma style for a
book and then titling it "for Applications". It's not the way to teach
engineering students.

I don't think I'll thank the educators who sent  a Pure Mathematician
to teach my discrete math class. When asked to give some context to
the material he said "I'm not really interested in Computer Science".
Note this was a service course run by the Math department for Computer
Science students.

If a lecturer has done some research which is at best tangenital to
the core subject matter it's ok to devote a lecture or two to the
material, but it's not what we signed up for when we chose the course.
Don't put it on the exam.

I'm entitled to question the judgement of academics who make Computer
Graphics a compulsory part of the curriculum but are prepared to have
students graduate without knowing what a neural network is.

Coming back to Cohen. I will quote one of the Amazon reviewers.
"The book has one important attribute: it's clear, undoubtedly. Having
a minimum of prerequisites, I think there's no way to not understand
what Prof. Cohen says through its pages. It makes the job of learning
this part of theory easier than any other text.
But ... but I can't totally agree with Cohen's crusade against
formalism. I agree that the first target of a book should be to
clearly transmit the intended knowledge, and Cohen perfectly succeeds
in this. But formalism too has its importance, thereafter. A compact
and clear formalism helps to communicate efficiently, and moreover
unambiguously. Like in mathematics, the first, important thing is to
understand. Yet, there's no way for you to efficiently work with math
without using any kind of formalism, should it be more or less
That's it: a very powerful book for a "profound" understanding of the
subject; a bit more of natural formalism would make it a "complete"
understanding also, and the book a five stars one."

Look at the stage I was at when I read the book I was  happy settle
for the profound understanding. Quite probably more natural formalism
would have compromised that. I would guess that the proportion of
students that go on to grad school is in a minority so the argument
about we put this stuff in to prepare you for later life should be
tempered accordingly.

> In short, don't take yourself too seriously.

Trust me I don't. If I did I would never have made the comments that
led to all this in the first place.
> Choosing to not learn
> something hurts only you.

Yes. I have wasted much time trying  in the past. I tried again after
reading this thread with no change in the result. I may try in the
future, but I reserve the right to perceive this convention for what
it really is and I am always free to find another avenue for my

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