Information Theory: The Language of Coins

I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to Information Theory. My TA Mike Burrel began a lecture by writing a string of 0’s and 1’s on the board and asked us to think about what it meant. It was followed by a trance-like state of excitement…how did I not hear of this before? Three years later I’m thrilled to be launching an entire episode on the topic. It was a true joy to go back to square one and relearn the topic with a childlike curiosity…My goal is to create a Myst inspired adventure which includes various puzzles along the way.

Episode #2: The Language of Coins

6 Responses to “Information Theory: The Language of Coins”

  1. I don’t mean to be a smart arse but I think you mispelled “theory” in the title.

  2. Duncan Storey Says:

    Its funny i like it.

  3. It’s interesting to me that you mention ‘Myst’ as an inspiration for the presentation of these ideas.

    For a while now, I’ve been longing for someone to take what one can learn on (say) Khan Academy, or through your videos, and with it build a completely immersive game world. One would proceed by demonstrations of proficiency in a given topic, much like KA, and there’d be, perhaps, a Sagan-like figure to guide you, or that you could turn to if you got stuck (in my mind, Sagan and I are, like, best friends).

    The game could begin in ancient times, and would proceed to the time and place(s) where certain key ideas were first discovered, or developed. If you misunderstood, you could refer to a notebook that charts your progress, or you could even return to a previous time to study something in greater depth.

    Just the idea of having a game where the whole point is to discover, explore, and learn about the universe at any scale, and to any depth, gives me a goosebumps.

    And if the game could feed and clothe you, too, that would be awesome.

    • britcruise Says:

      Exactly…I dream of this game. I’m actually in the process of mapping out a framework for this type of game *as* a curriculum. (i’ll post about it soon here)
      For example, I’m thinking about an ecosystem of observations, questions & inventions. Ideally you’d start with the most basic observations
      (making a compass), and lead to inventions (galvanometer), and those inventions are then used to make discoveries such as Ohm’s law. What I’d love
      are path(s) from [observation] -> [equation]. Today I’ve been reading ohm’s original papers and it’s so clear that telling students ” remember V=IR”, is
      really dangerous because it hides all the details in the discovery leading up to it…there is a massive story behind that equation (and all equations) one needs to uncover first.
      I think all equations are the ending points of a long story…once you hit the equation, you are done!….who cares about “using it”…that’s for technicians.

      • kierangarland Says:

        Well, that’s fantastic 🙂

        I love the idea of an equation as the end-point of a journey, rather than a beginning.

        So, in a sense (a la Myst), one would start in a kind of wilderness, with only a little guidance, and gradually discover the nature of the surrounding world with ever greater depth and precision (a model for an interesting life if ever there was one!). One could work up to whole systems of equations in this way! I certainly look forward to seeing what you come up with.

        I’ve only just (re)discovered nature, math, and physics and related ideas over these past few years. Until I found KA, I never thought I could handle the math, but now I think I’m finally beginning to see the world as I think I’ve always wanted to – as an explorer!

        A game of the kind you’re describing could provide a path for people to really own the knowledge that they discover, and to become fluent at talking (and thinking) about the world in a profound way.

        I’m getting carried away, but it’s all too interesting.

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