Berkeley, Friday, May 29, 2020 1:45 AM
There is a genius on labelling “things”, that one actually one doubts of the actual genius of naming things. As we have evolved and for a long period of time since there is higher education, a high proficiency in a language it also means to be able to communicate better, to particularly recognize also in reading sources what is true from non-sense, and so being capable to guide to others. Gaining an additional language is always a gigantic advantage as one is able to communicate with more people, learn more, gain different perspectives, and read more. It will definitely influence what one can produce in our own works. Languages are not only the formerly labeled languages, nor even only the computing languages, which is the motivation of this short display of thoughts in this post, but as we specialize in our studies each discipline has its kind of its own language that in that case I think is called jargon, which by the way I think has a recent negative connotation. However, I am referring here to need of the specialized language, and also of a very pluralistic language to be able to communicate effectively. In our traditional form of higher education, which if not earlier, might have the current structure since the late 1800s [please go and check facts, and inform me if I not correct it earlier, otherwise try it as a aphorism] enough skills before gaining the specialized language were to be able to read, comprehend and write in that language, let’s say English, plus knowledge in math and logics, which were gained through elementary and high school.
Then, as one continues advancing learns to distinguish a true calculus from a dangerous and wrong calculus. A good study from a bad study. Hopefully a good source of information from a bad source of information, because one has gained the tools and refined the eye for selecting and making decisions.
A lot of the process is understand the sources, and also to label what is dubious or unknown.
The more one’s put its heart and its effort on understanding things, likely it happens that more responsibilities of other lives is under one’s shoulders.
Yet the same principles applies. Have a higher education or a higher knowledge or a higher language to make things clear/transparent. A lot of the processes is clearing up and explaining things. That is why I love one of the words in the title from Euclide’s Elements of Geometry Demonstrated. While I love geometry, the key word was demonstrated. Perhaps was a book about Euclides, however, as it dates 1584.
Here I will start with the actual programming BASIC language thought.
Currently, many of us or most of the human beings do any sort of activity in the current version of Pascal’s (1645) D’Arithmetique and of von Neumann’s (~1948) computing machines. I also do not know yet well the difference between the Turing machine and the von Neumann machine which were about the same time. Turing actually, I think was a post-doc or a higher degree student from von Neumann (please go and check references I am recalling those thing from memory, except few notes with the dates in this paragraph) It is quite interesting how the counting machine that Blaise Pascal developed for helping his father, who I think was a tax collector (Dr. Kreeft, 2020 personal communication) has evolved this much. Of course Pascal machine was nothing in comparison with the current one, and his machine mainly did algebra additions and subtractions, while in the current ones we can do linear algebra or matrix calculations, and beyond that data driven modeling. But we can also write, communicate, read, play music, or being exposed to plenty of garbage information.
The point that I want to make about higher education is that just the OK fluency in the language of instruction, with good enough writing and reading comprehension skills, plus the understanding of math and logic, currently is not enough as the starting line in the next level of learning, and so of responsibility in the higher education field. We need to to know some basic programing skills, reading and writing codes, as starting point, and end up to service, at the graduation point, with a deep knowledge of them, or just ok to have this additional tool to to produce good work, and better to being able to navigate through the receiving information, and being able to critically understand what is good is and what is wrong. I say this with the particularly emphasis on avoiding just be users, or being used by softwares. Of course, not of us need to be a developers, and as not of us need to be a good writer, but currently, and at least if one had made the decision and have been given the opportunity to be in higher education, needs to proactively write, read, and seems that now needs also to code.
There are of course plenty of exceptions, as nothing would replace human ability of sketching and producing wonderful hand drawing designs, to which I am a defender, without being a good drawer myself. I am sure there are many other exceptions, but as one is not tested in the drawing skills in the standardized exams for admission, the ability of drawing and coding is a plus, but the ability of drawing and not coding might not be that good for advancing in higher education in the coming times.
As the SAT and, I forgot other names, if the GRE will be also removed, from the admissions, and modified in the coming times, perhaps adding a short section on reading comprehension of a code, and writing a code will be good.
That might not be yet ready for standardizing exams by 2025, but it seems will be the way that we need to move to. Meanwhile, there is a need to develop structure and grammar in coding.
Popularizing it, which means make it easier and appealing to learn, to understanding, and probe it usefulness, not only because of the data driven decision, but to develop critical understanding of the information that we receive if it is valid or not.
I, meanwhile, need to continue self-learning these high-level programing languages, as I need those to apply the hydro-geomorphology concepts to which I work with. So just speaking quite OK a second language, in my case English, is not enough, I need proficiency on one or more of these programing languages.
Many of the data driven fields leads for counting something. I keep track of the balance of sediments. What is that? I count the amount of rocks of different sizes that goes into rivers, then how many of those and when are transported downstream in the river, mainly by water flow, and then how many of those end up in the lower lands, which are also called alluvial fans, and how many are deposited in the deltas, and so reach the ocean.