Conrad Wolfram




The paper laptop

In education, we sometimes seem to confuse using more basic or earlier invented tools with teaching "the basics" of a subject. For example, just because paper was invented before computers, it doesn't follow that teaching maths on paper gets more to the basics of the subject than teaching it on computers.

Certainly tool invention order is immaterial to those learning a subject, particularly when the tools in question existed from before they were born. 

This reminds me of an anecdote my daughter provided me. She has a game of drawing "paper laptops"--folding an A4 sheet in half with a keyboard drawn on the bottom, a screen on the top. I asked her "When I was your age [4], why do you think I didn't make paper laptops?" After a couple of seconds' reflection, she replied, "No paper?".




"Is it cheating to use Wolfram|Alpha for math homework?"

That's the (complex) question I began to answer in my 18 minute TEDx talk at the EU parliament. A video of the talk--entitled "I calculate, therefore I am"--is posted on YouTube.


Downgrading software

My car recently got a software upgrade as part of a service. Little did I think that it would bring a change I didn't want to the engine's characteristics--making it rougher and rortier--as well as fix the bugs it was supposed to. Here's the real wrench: I can't get it downgraded. Even though it must be possible, there's no procedure they'll enact for doing it. It's unthinkable that you can't get hardware back to where it why the problem with software?

This incident reminded me of the nervousness I often have with upgrades and got me checking our policies and practicalities for Mathematica. Yes you can downgrade if you ever feel the need (though of course I certainly hope you don't).


My Telegraph article...and the fuller version

Why do I believe that we need to make maths education computer-based?

Here's the unedited version of the article published by the Telegraph online yesterday--with a bit more explanation from me on this complex topic.


"I calculate, therefore I am"

That's my talk title at tomorrow's TEDx conference in the EU parliament. Just heading out to Brussels now. I'll be piecing together an eccelctic mix of Wolfram|Alpha, Mathematica and how education must urgently follow the "real" world into fully deploying computer-based math. It's a lot for 18 minutes!