Monday, 03 August 2009

Words, Numbers, Pictures

My new maths book - at least, the one I started working from today - has a strong focus on what the authors call a new style of teaching. One of the key points of this style seems to be the idea that a single mathematical concept can be expressed in different ways: a function, a graph and a verbal description of a relationship can all represent the same thing, for example.

I think that concept can be applied to the rest of life too. Writing is very verbal, but I decided that I wanted a picture to help me focus. (You can see it here now that it's finished.) I'm also somewhat addicted to hitting the word count shortcut to see just how much I've written. Blogs have pictures to draw attention, even though they're all about the words. Computers represent the colour of a picture in hexadecimal digits. They're all mixed up.

I suspect that there are more elements in the equation, but I'm beginning to learn to balance these ones. Each one complements the others; all three in moderation is better than four times as much of any one of them. It forms a predator prey model, where because maths has taken up my writing time, I write better when I get the chance. Since I write instead of looking at art, I steal my maths time to do that, but I try to apply it to maths as well. When I do maths, I analyse the prose in my textbook.

Mixing things up makes their applications clearer, as well as getting more done. I allocate time to each activity, but putting the focus on spot doesn't cause the others to disappear. It's obvious, perhaps,but nonetheless a revelation.

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