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Computational Diversions: Circus Maximus

Computational Diversions: Circus Maximus Int J Comput Math Learning (2007) 12:167–171 DOI 10.1007/s10758-007-9118-y Michael Eisenberg Published online: 18 July 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007 One of the tricky aspects of a ‘‘computational diversions’’ column is determining just how much programming should, or plausibly can, be included in a particular example. On the one hand, it is certainly possible to suggest complex research-level projects that require pages and pages of procedures; but in that case, we may be out of the realm of compu- tational diversions and into the (admittedly nearby) realm of computational obsessions. On the other hand, very simple programs with very interesting behavior seem hard to come by. Or so I thought. Actually, this column describes just such a simple-but-interesting algorithm taken from the book How Nature Works, by the late Per Bak (1996) The book is accessible in style, but highly provocative and challenging in content—a difficult com- bination to pull off. In the book, Bak, a physicist, focuses his attention on ‘‘self-organized criticality’’: a state toward which some complex systems seem to evolve, and in which the system can be perturbed—sometimes to large and unexpected effect—by small external influences. Bak applies this idea to topics as diverse as http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png "Technology, Knowledge and Learning" Springer Journals

Computational Diversions: Circus Maximus

"Technology, Knowledge and Learning" , Volume 12 (2) – Jul 18, 2007

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Education; Learning and Instruction; Mathematics Education; Educational Technology; Science Education; Creativity and Arts Education
ISSN
2211-1662
eISSN
1573-1766
DOI
10.1007/s10758-007-9118-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Int J Comput Math Learning (2007) 12:167–171 DOI 10.1007/s10758-007-9118-y Michael Eisenberg Published online: 18 July 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007 One of the tricky aspects of a ‘‘computational diversions’’ column is determining just how much programming should, or plausibly can, be included in a particular example. On the one hand, it is certainly possible to suggest complex research-level projects that require pages and pages of procedures; but in that case, we may be out of the realm of compu- tational diversions and into the (admittedly nearby) realm of computational obsessions. On the other hand, very simple programs with very interesting behavior seem hard to come by. Or so I thought. Actually, this column describes just such a simple-but-interesting algorithm taken from the book How Nature Works, by the late Per Bak (1996) The book is accessible in style, but highly provocative and challenging in content—a difficult com- bination to pull off. In the book, Bak, a physicist, focuses his attention on ‘‘self-organized criticality’’: a state toward which some complex systems seem to evolve, and in which the system can be perturbed—sometimes to large and unexpected effect—by small external influences. Bak applies this idea to topics as diverse as

Journal

"Technology, Knowledge and Learning"Springer Journals

Published: Jul 18, 2007

References