Saturday, November 6, 2010

More Untrained Minds

I recently posted some of my thoughts on untrained minds. They constantly impress me.

I found out another interesting instance on a recent post at Tanya Khovanova's blog. She was teaching one-way functions (functions which are easy to compute but hard to invert - like the product of two large prime numbers), which are useful in cryptography, to eighth-graders.

Her simple "phone-book" example of encoding something like "sun" would be to find last names in a given phonebook that started with the letters "s", "u" and "n", and concatenating the corresponding phone numbers. Putting them together is easy, but inverting is non-trivial.

Here's what happened in her own words:
And one of my 8th graders said, “If I were Bob, I would just call all the phone numbers and ask their last names.”


milieu said...

That blog is great. Thanks for the link.

Also from this blog post , this quote from a seemingly good book seems to have some connection.

"Any tradition fostering the progress of thought must have this intention: to teach its current ideas as stages leading on to unknown truths which, when discovered, might dissent from the very teachings which engendered them."

Sachin Shanbhag said...


I saw Guru's post yesterday.