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Topic: Not TRYING to start a flame war honest. (Read 5 times) previous topic - next topic

wanderson


Quote
We don't teach kids to do math in RPN

Maybe we should.   have you seen those math "puzzles" that pop on facebook now and then" "Evaluate: 6-1*0+2/2", and how many people get them wrong ("hey, I typed it just likes it's shown into my calculator and that's what I got...")


While that might help with basics... it would cause problems for those who get around to higher math.  Which would also require restructuring how math is done.  The algebraic method is inherrent in the approach/philosophy of all western mathematics.
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Current version 1.0.1

Ran Talbott


Give a third grader an algebraic calculator and they have no difficulty using it even if they have never seen one before.

Until they try to do something more complex than "a + b" or "c * d" and discover the Joys of Operator PrecedenceTM.  ]:)

I think it's possible that RPN is not so much inherently "counter-intuitive" as "counter-experience", because we're English speakers who have already had a lot of exposure to algebraic notation by third grade.  It would be interesting to see some actual study of whether readers of right-to-left written languages have the same initial difficulty.

I liked the relative consistency and simplicity of APL, which uses infix notation, but is strictly right-to-left evaluation without precedence (except that you can still use parens to explicitly force priority of subexpressions).

justjed


I think it's possible that RPN is not so much inherently "counter-intuitive" as "counter-experience", because we're English speakers who have already had a lot of exposure to algebraic notation by third grade.


There's the nub. This is not quite similar, but sorta, to learning to read left-right / top-down. We train our brains to do things in a particular way, and then there's tons of positive reinforcement of that way, because of network effects.

To a man, everyone I know who has taken the time to learn RPN has ended up preferring it. In fact, I have read explanations of RPN which make a good case that it's actually more intuitive to the way people think about problem solving. I should try to find that, but I'm in the middle of a Charles Stross book. (Not a particularly good one, BTW. He's no Scalzi or Stephenson, but some people really like him. Well, perhaps his other works are better.)
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wanderson

#63
Aug 22, 2012, 04:35 am Last Edit: Aug 22, 2012, 04:39 am by wanderson Reason: 1


Give a third grader an algebraic calculator and they have no difficulty using it even if they have never seen one before.

Until they try to do something more complex than "a + b" or "c * d" and discover the Joys of Operator PrecedenceTM.  ]:)

I think it's possible that RPN is not so much inherently "counter-intuitive" as "counter-experience", because we're English speakers who have already had a lot of exposure to algebraic notation by third grade.  It would be interesting to see some actual study of whether readers of right-to-left written languages have the same initial difficulty.

I liked the relative consistency and simplicity of APL, which uses infix notation, but is strictly right-to-left evaluation without precedence (except that you can still use parens to explicitly force priority of subexpressions).



Algebraic notation is inherrent to western mathematics.  Changing to RPN would involve a lot more than simply changing how to do basic calculations.

BTW significant portions of Algebraic notation was invented by Arabs whom I believe write right to left.
New true random number library available at: http://code.google.com/p/avr-hardware-random-number-generation/

Current version 1.0.1

Jack Christensen

#64
Aug 22, 2012, 04:57 am Last Edit: Aug 22, 2012, 05:03 am by Jack Christensen Reason: 1
RPN is only counter-intuitive in the sense that any other new concept is. Have used HP RPN calculators for decades. Can run circles around anyone with an algebraic calculator, and with better accuracy to boot. This wouldn't be the case if it hadn't become pretty darned intuitive.

There is a bit of a learning curve, but the upside is that no one borrows your calculator (at least not for long) XD  The look of consternation on peoples' faces as they search for the "=" button is worth orders of magnitude more than the modest learning curve.
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