Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

How We Can Make Sense of Chaos

Mar 03, 2022

The good part of this article is that in the first third or so it offers a nice way to think of an 'attractor'. I can easily picture a a function whose possible outputs can also be inputs, allowing us to repeatedly plug the outputs of the function back in as inputs, getting closer and closer to a value, which is the 'attractor'. Nice. But it lost me with this metaphor: "Much like a candymaker pulling taffy, it stretches that interval to twice its length, folds it in half, and sets it back on the original interval." This is the first use of the term 'interval' in the article, and I lose any sense of what, exactly, is being stretched. Or even what it means to 'stretch an interval'. It just shows how hard it is to write articles that explain things. I wish we could have in articles like this a way to test the concepts, the way I can test a concept by writing computer code. Seeing and manipulating the mathematical objects would make them easier to work with. At least for me.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Dec 01, 2023 11:33 a.m.

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