Heater
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:58 pm

jamesh,
Because that works so well for teaching, oh, I dunno, computing?
Admittedly an actual computer to play on is useful for teaching kids computing. It was when I was a teenager being introduced to programming in BASIC and assembler. Same like those lathes and mills were useful in our Metal Work classes back in the day. Sorry, Engineering Workshop Theory and Practice.

So why does that involve using Wolfram?
Schools haven't had blackboards for some years.
That accounts for a lot...
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

chairmanmao
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:37 pm

Wise guy :)

Yes: I learned that there are a number of aspects to upgrading the Pi which could be much smoother, and better disclosed from within the process itself. In addition to the "running out of space because of wolfram-engine" problem, there was also the "reset the boot process so it goes into a desktop GUI" (always a fun change when the Pi was running for a couple of years in a headless state before the upgrade) problem, the "dumb swap disk handler doesn't realize how little SD card memory is left when picking a new default size" problem, and the "wifi connection suddenly begins failing intermittently problem".

Not to mention that the upgrade appears to have slowed down the login process, both in the console mode and via SSH. But I can't classify that as a problem because you do get a command line. Eventually.

In fact, the day was just jam-packed with learning! Too bad that's not what I had planned to do. But it's not as if those lost 6 hours are all that big a deal :)

stderr
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:01 am

chairmanmao wrote: the "running out of space because of wolfram-engine" problem, there was also the "reset the boot process so it goes into a desktop GUI" (always a fun change when the Pi was running for a couple of years in a headless state before the upgrade) problem,
Even if it boots to X that you can't see, you should be able to turn that off via ssh in and raspi-config.
the "dumb swap disk handler doesn't realize how little SD card memory is left when picking a new default size" problem, and
You don't want to actually use swap space, you might have a small amount to avoid processes being killed.
Not to mention that the upgrade appears to have slowed down the login process, both in the console mode and via SSH. But I can't classify that as a problem because you do get a command line. Eventually.
I would think that could be classified as a problem. Did you look to see what was hanging up, you might be able to just see it if you have a screen on the pi. I recall that it used to be willing to wait forever for something, certainly it was willing to wait for drives it thought should be there for longer than I would've preferred.

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CarlRJ
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:17 am

You know, rather than getting worked up about Wolfram, seeing it as the villain in wasting your day, you could ponder why you didn't spend just a few dollars more to get a MicroSD card that was twice as big to begin with. ;) A 16 GB card doesn't cost much, and has loads of free space beyond the default install. And if the card you're using has been in service for a few years, swapping it out for a new one has a decent chance of saving your another day or two of frustration when the old card eventually wears out.

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MarkHaysHarris777
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:57 am

CarlRJ wrote:You know, rather than getting worked up about Wolfram, seeing it as the villain in wasting your day, you could ponder why you didn't spend just a few dollars more to get a MicroSD card that was twice as big to begin with. ;) A 16 GB card doesn't cost much, and has loads of free space beyond the default install. And if the card you're using has been in service for a few years, swapping it out for a new one has a decent chance of saving your another day or two of frustration when the old card eventually wears out.
Excellent point! bravo... I´ve moved all of my stuff to 16GB cards now... not looking back.

As for Wolfram, they are after all a primary supporter of the Raspberry PI Foundation; I think its a good idea not to beat up on them. I like their stuff; and I presume that the RPF enjoys their support.

... be happy.
marcus
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ejolson
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:59 am

Heater wrote:davidcoton,

So all a teacher needs is a blackboard. The students can have pencil and paper.

Tell me again, what is Wolfram for ?
Wolfram is a commercially marketed computer algebra system that competes with Maple. Either product lies in the thousand dollar category when purchased for use outside of education. An interesting presentation on what role computer algebra might play in the future teaching and practice of mathematics was given in a TED talk by Conrad Wolfram in 2010.

Current use of technology in mathematics education focuses on having the computer grade online homework and give multimedia presentations to teach children how to do pencil and paper calculations. This role reversal from the original use of a computer as a tool for doing mathematics is not as stupid as it sounds. Many schools lack budgets to hire qualified instructors; therefore, using a computer as a teacher makes sense. However, even with all these computers around, the current curriculum is still limited to calculations that can be done using pencil and paper. This is what doesn't make sense to Conrad and likely one of the reasons why Wolfram has provided Mathematica as a resource for teachers and students to use in the classroom and at home.

At one point everyone learned Latin in school. Now Latin is of special interest and not even available in all schools. It is not difficult to imagine that courses where students learn to do pencil and paper calculations may soon be equally rare. However unlike Latin, there is a good possibility mathematics will still be taught. Making a good computer algebra system widely available is a first step towards ensuring that mathematics itself isn't thrown out with the pencils and paper as something hopelessly obsolete.

jahboater
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:15 am

CarlRJ wrote:You know, rather than getting worked up about Wolfram, seeing it as the villain in wasting your day, you could ponder why you didn't spend just a few dollars more to get a MicroSD card that was twice as big to begin with. ;) A 16 GB card doesn't cost much, and has loads of free space beyond the default install. And if the card you're using has been in service for a few years, swapping it out for a new one has a decent chance of saving your another day or two of frustration when the old card eventually wears out.
+1 Totally agree with this.
Go to http://www.amazon.com or http://www.amazon.co.uk and search for "micro sd card" (in "All").
There are very few 16GB cards for sale now. The sweet spot for price/GB seems to be 32GB.

I don't actually use Wolfram myself (yet) but I welcome its inclusion, especially for an education targeted computer. Other large pieces of software such as Libreoffice are also welcome considering the price and size of disks today.
Last edited by jahboater on Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Pi4 8GB running PIOS64

Heater
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:19 am

ejolson,

Call me old fashioned.

Back in the day Maths education was not about calculating. Not after primary school arithmetic anyway. It was all about geometry, algebra, calculus, theorems, proofs. We never needed a calculator, there were precious few actual numbers anywhere. One almost never had to give an actual numerical result. So for example, understanding proofs of Pythagoras' Theorem was important, calculating actual lengths of sides of triangles was not.

It's not clear to me how having an algebra engine available helps teach kids how to find the intersection of two lines or the area under a polynomial. By way of examples. Solving systems of equations and integral calculus are concepts you want to get into the minds of the students. They have to see it for themselves not watch an engine spit out the result.

Or are we now saying that kids don't actually need to learn mathematics any more?

I'll have to find time to watch the TED Talk and see what Mr Wolfram is trying to sell us.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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MarkHaysHarris777
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:47 am

ejolson wrote: An interesting presentation on what role computer algebra might play in the future teaching and practice of mathematics was given in a TED talk by Conrad Wolfram in 2010.
Thank you, I enjoyed that talk thoroughly; and I might add, I agree with Conrad Wolfram whole heartedly. Especially, that the first country|nation that ´gets this´ will leap-frog ahead socially and economically.

His main point (also my main point when I discuss this) is that computers should be integral ´from the ground up´ in the maths curriculums in todays classrooms; that computers should be at the heart of the ´calculating´ and that the students should be at the heart of ´feeling´ the mathematics. (absolutely, bravo!)

Restricting maths and maths education to paper and pencil is like restricting flight to paper airplanes. Wolfram suggests that the way to teach ´understanding´ of maths is not by insisting that the maths be done by hand, but by insisting that the maths be demonstrated by ´COMPUTER PROGRAMMING´. whoohoo!

He also suggests that maths education should incorporate computers into the examination process. I agree.
marcus
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Heater
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:21 am

MarkHaysHarris777,

I'm all for getting computing into education. Not sure it should be restricted to the Maths class but that's another story.
Wolfram suggests that the way to teach ´understanding´ of maths is not by insisting that the maths be done by hand, but by insisting that the maths be demonstrated by ´COMPUTER PROGRAMMING´. whoohoo!
Hmmm...can you give an example of this?

For example how can computer programming help teach those magical first steps in differential calculus. That moment when 0/0 suddenly disappears and you get a useful result. That moment when the students mind reels, whoa you can't do that!, oh but yes you can.

Granted you can replace the medium of pencil and paper with the medium of mouse and screen. Does that really help? Doesn't it just make the whole process more expensive?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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MarkHaysHarris777
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Re: Why Is wolfram-engine included?

Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:39 am

Heater wrote:
Wolfram suggests that the way to teach ´understanding´ of maths is not by insisting that the maths be done by hand, but by insisting that the maths be demonstrated by ´COMPUTER PROGRAMMING´. whoohoo!
Hmmm...can you give an example of this?
Yes, I have uploaded two examples of this in the past week (compute.rex) and (pdeclib.py pilib.py) ! Neither of those scripts can be written without a thorough knowledge of integral and differential calculus; end of story.
Its one thing to be able to write out (on paper) what you think you understand about mathematical relationships. It is a horse of another color (however) to place that understanding into a computer program and run it! If it runs, you pass... if it doesn´t run, well you may get partial credit for trying but its not an A.
Heater wrote: For example how can computer programming help teach those magical first steps in differential calculus. That moment when 0/0 suddenly disappears and you get a useful result. That moment when the students mind reels, whoa you can't do that!, oh but yes you can.
I remember that day well (1973) when I ´finally´ got the idea that a first derivative of a function was the slope of the line (function) tangent at that point on the curve... but, if I had had the Wolfram modeling in front of me demonstrating the limit (and showing me the tangent line, so that I could ´feel´ it) I would have picked it up much quicker. I did manage to learn differential and integral calculus (but Wolfram would have made things a lot more fun!)
Heater wrote: Granted you can replace the medium of pencil and paper with the medium of mouse and screen. Does that really help? Doesn't it just make the whole process more expensive?
Maybe. The RPi sure helps with that... I mean, yeah, its taken a long long long time to get affordable ´free´ (as in Libre) computers into the hands of kids... and its about time... and I´m all for the revolution in maths education that I think is about to happen; whoohoo :mrgreen:
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