Sunday, February 4, 2007

Inaugural Post

My major intention for this blog is to look at abstraction as a conceptual and practical tool. In this light, abstraction should be understood as the process of considering something independently of some or all of its concrete attributes or properties. So viewed, many fields of thought can be seen as critically dependent on abstraction, but everyday life is filled with abstractions.

An example may be useful. Students at US schools and universities are quite familiar with tests that require the use of a number 2 pencil. Consider that pencil: does it matter whether it is wooden or a mechanical contrivance of metal and plastic? Clearly not; it is only relevant that the pencil is a tool with which to darken a response from A to E in a manner sufficient for reading by an optical scanner. That nature is summed up by describing the pencil lead, with other details being usefully suppressed.

Of course, I will not spend much time on pencils! There are many other areas where abstraction is key, and of considerably greater interest. Computers. Programming. Mathematics. We will sample from each of these, and more.

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