Holding off on evaluating variables

There is a difference between performing a calculation and solving a problem.

I’ve been considering the equation of a circle, x^2 + y^2 = r^2. Except, you see, that’s not the entire thing. There’s a bit that we’ve dropped because it’s  zeroes (and therefore doesn’t affect our equation):

(x-h)^2 + (y-k)^2 = r^2.

This equation contains the full information–everything that is necessary to draw and position a circle on a cartesian graph. You see, the and k move the circle around the graph. When the circle is on the origin, they are both zero and often dropped from the formula. When figuring something quickly with a circle, the shortened form is more than adequate. However, without them, part of the story is lost.

Similarly, if we have the task of working a problem it is tempting to perform the arithmetic along the way. If we resist, however, at the end we produce a general solution that may be used for other similar problems.

Programming can work the same way. We may write a program to perform a calculation. This would involve lots of hardcoding, many assumptions making it analogous to our “arithmetic along the way”.

Alternatively, try leaving the variables in, or not doing the arithmetic along the way, and preserve the information in the equation which would otherwise be lost.

Switching Wireless, a Soap Opera

The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Literally: "Under a Wave off Kanagawa")
Description	Part of the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, no. 21.

Now that I've gotten my Wireless Perceptions guide out of the way, I can mention one of my favorite misconceptions. Myth: "Switch to MUSTANG, it's faster than MORNINGSIDE." The observant reader will note that this myth is contradictory to my … [Continue reading]

Wireless Perceptions

One of our wireless radios

It has come to my attention that wireless is still considered somewhat amorphous and, as a result, I've seen some pretty interesting misconceptions. How does our wireless work? Small radios have a limited range so we have many of them all over … [Continue reading]

How to attach to a remote emacs session

ITS-cover (from GNU)

I was away from my workstation which was running an emacs with several open files (some potentially unsaved!) when I wanted to access some of those files. My emacs is always configured to run the server process. This means I can start an emacs … [Continue reading]

Naive Programming

Some people will believe anything.

I think that may always be the case, especially when the resulting program is a function of what I'm asked to do! I was instead considering how, give experience in mathematical reasoning and programming, one writes increasingly concise … [Continue reading]