…and Information Science

I’m finally beginning to appreciate the and Information part of my Computer and Information Science degree.

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When an emacs user calls something aRcane…

I’m working through an online course on the R language https://www.coursera.org/course/rprog

I’m finding it quite arcane, retro, baroque. Just a few examples:

  • length(x)=5, assigning to a function to to set the length of an object? really ?
  • “1” based array index (FORTRAN, anyone?)
  • complete textual orientation (OK, not a problem for an emacs user)
  • Having to think about the size of objects being read in (echos of the days before virtual memory)

On the other hand, I was able to generate a heatmap in 3 lines of code (thanks to Bronwyn Woods for the pointer). I spent hours messing around with Python and JavaScript versions, but the R version Just Worked. Three lines. Amazing.

data <- data.frame(x=c(1,2,3), y=c(1,2,3), count=c(10,10,5))
levelplot(count ~ x*y, data=data)


Figure 1: Simple heatmap generated by R

What does it mean when world-class education is essentially free to all?

We no longer live in the world of McGuffy’s readers (OK, not since my Grandfather’s day), “New Math” (my day), or even in the days of roll-your-own curriculum that was blooming when we started homeschooling ~15 years ago.   What does it mean when world-class education is essentially free to all?

MIT Technology Review:  The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years