Friday, June 17, 2011

Help me proofread tau day exercises

In honor of tau day (a math holiday celebrated on June 28 every year), I have written some exercises at tau day. If you have a little time to go to that page and try to go through the exercises, I'd appreciate your feedback on writing style, whether they are too easy or too hard, whether they were too long or too short, and any other suggestions. I'm hoping this will be a fun game/exercise for anyone interested in math but I am trying to make it accessible to someone with no experience in formal proofs.

If you are here to read about programming, I intend to keep writing about that too, but the math proofs have been a good part of my hobby activities lately. It is kind of like programming anyway (processed by a computer, needs to follow pretty specific rules to work, can be addictive in some of the same ways).


Brian Slesinsky said...

I read through the first proof.

- Maybe explain how to type math symbols? (The first one it asks you to type in is theta.)
- It says "sin and τ were defined with term" but I don't see where that happened previously.
- At least for the first proof, I think it would also be good to show what you would have typed after each step and what the result should look like. I'm not actually doing the exercise and it's a bit hard to tell what the result would be.

Jim Kingdon said...

@Brian: Thanks for the comments. I added a sentence pointing to the math symbol links at the bottom of the edit page (there are other ways to get those symbols, such as the RFC1345 input method alluded to at but the links are probably the best place to point beginners). As for "sin and τ were defined with term", I've tried just deleting those sentences. It always seemed like a digression to me and unless it helps the reader figure out what is a variable and what is not, it is just distraction.

The hardest comment for me to come to terms with is "I'm not actually doing the exercise". The writing is written based on people doing the exercise, but if I think about it I realize that most people will try just reading it before they actually click edit. I've put in the completed text of the first proof (which is also given verbatim in bits and pieces in the text), but with a little hesitation, as failing to follow along with a keyboard (not just eyes) will only steepen the learning curve for the rest of the exercises (which I fear is probably a bit steep already).