Coding for pre-schoolers: a ‘Turtle Logo’ in Forth

*New!* (26 Nov) – Turtle Logo v1.4 is available now! Entirely key operated, suitable for 3-4 years+ to 99 years. 750 lines of Forth code. Algorithmic drawing program with advanced features, incl. macro record & playback, color, etc. Works on WinXP to Win10.

1. Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

A challenge faced by both parents and teachers is how to help young children develop a ‘builder’ relationship with technology, instead of becoming increasingly passive consumers of content created by others. The consensus on what’s important for older kids and adults is clear: coding. This enables children to participate in the creation of their own technological “micro-worlds” — environments rich in educational potential.[14]

This autumn, spurred by having our own young children (one aged 4 years, the other 16 months), we began an experiment, the result of which is a Turtle Logo program for Windows computers (freely downloadable) that is simple enough to be accessible for children from 3 years and older, while providing an extensible platform that can grow with the child.

The long-term goal is to enable children to express their creativity, artistry, and natural ‘builder’ impulses using coding, computer graphics, and robotics as readily as the previous generation could using paints, brushes, and building blocks.

Turtle Logo - Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

Turtle Logo – Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

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The Mathematics of Duelling

Duelling with pistols. If you were the one issuing the challenge, your dilemma was that custom dictated that your adversary be allowed to shoot first. Only then, if you were still able to shoot, would you be permitted to seek “satisfaction”.

How much of an advantage does the first shooter really have? In this article, we build a simple probability model, and implement a numerical model in a few lines of R code.

Two gentleman face off in the snow.  Convention dictates the challenged shoots first.

Two gentleman face off in the snow. Convention dictates the challenged shoots first.

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Software: A Force-Multiplier for R&D

Your computer, kitted out with specialised software (mostly free) and configured for efficiency of use, is perhaps the single greatest ‘force multiplier’ that you can have as a Scientist, R&D Engineer, or Mathematician — unless of course you have a large budget and a team of bright minds at your disposal.

With sharp tools, persistence, a some creative ‘joinery’, you can become an ‘army of one’.

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A Radar Tracking Approach to Data Mining

(Statistics and Data Mining II)

Automated decision problems are frequently encountered in statistical data processing and data mining. An heuristic filter or heuristic classifier typically has a limited set of input data from which to arrive at a set of conclusions and make a decision: REJECT, ACCEPT, or UNDETERMINED. In such cases, pre-processing the input data before applying the heuristic classifier can substantially enhance the performance of the decision system.

In this article, I’ll motivate the use of a radar-tracking algorithm to improve the performance of automated decision making and statistical estimation in data processing. I will illustrate using the website visitation statistics problem.

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Disaster Management for Web-Hosted Data

(Technology Infrastructure Series)

In case you’re taking seriously guarantees about uptime, reliability, or backups advertised by website hosting companies, you should know that most guarantees of service are an idealized concept, especially if you use a low-cost web hosting service. Now, this doesn’t mean you should avoid low-cost web hosts. What you should do is give a little thought to the “what if’s” that may arise, and what you can do before they arise to minimize the pain when they do.

In this article, I’ll go through a few situations you might want to consider, and some options you can use to reduce your risk.

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Analysis of Visitor Statistics: Data Mining in-the-Small

(Statistics and Data Mining I)

For a variety of reasons, meaningful website visitation and visitor behavior statistics are an elusive data set to generate. This article introduces the visitor statistics problem, and describes seven challenges that must be overcome by statistical and data analysis techniques aiming for accurate estimates. Along the way, we’ll encounter the “Good News Cheap, Bad News Expensive” Paradox of Data Mining — or, why information is often used “as-is”.

This article is the first in a series on algorithms, statistics and data analysis techniques (using free and open source tools) using the visitor statistics problem as a vehicle for illustration.

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