Category Archives: teaching

Why is lambda calculus named after that specific Greek letter? Do not believe the rumours!

A common myth in theoretical computer science is that the ‘λ’ in λ-calculus comes from some kind of typographical error, where the intended notation was a circumflex accent ŷ.M, which became a caret ^y.M then finally a lambda λy.M. At … Continue reading

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Compilers as lazy denotational interpreters

This year I had the pleasure to teach, for the first time, a course on compilers. I have been doing research on compilers for a while now but I suppose I never really asked myself seriously “what is a compiler?”. … Continue reading

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Inventing an algebraic knot theory for eight year olds (V)

Towards Equations We finally reconvened our maths club after a mid-term break (children not available) combined with the university exams period (me not available). I correctly assumed nobody remembered anything we talked about before. At least not in detail. Also, … Continue reading

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Inventing an algebraic knot theory for eight year olds (IV)

Equations Here is a quote that captures the ethos against which our maths club militates: We take other men’s knowledge and opinions upon trust; which is an idle and superficial learning. We must make them our own. We are just … Continue reading

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Inventing an algebraic knot theory for eight year olds (III)

Unlike previous posts, this one precedes the math club meeting. The reason is that we need to tighten some loose ends in our emerging knot theory notation. The first two meetings (I and II) were all about exploring knots and ways to describe them using … Continue reading

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Inventing a knot theory for eight year olds (II)

So I am running a math club for 8 year olds and we are reinventing (an) algebraic knot theory. We are not trying to reinvent existing knot theory, just to make a journey of intellectual and mathematical discovery. In the … Continue reading

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Inventing a knot theory for eight year olds (I)

Last year I experimented with teaching seven and eight year olds about monoidal categories using a very concrete model of cardboard rectangles and bits of string. The experiment was a success, with children becoming able to represent formally a model … Continue reading

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The category of cardboard rectangles and bits of wool string (II)

In the second session of our category-theory club for school children we took a giant leap from the informality of diagrams towards formal mathematical notations. Our starting point were the cardboard-and-string diagrams from the previous session which we have already … Continue reading

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The category of cardboard rectangles and bits of wool string (I)

I am conducting an educational experiment: teaching children in year 2 and 3 (7-8 years old) about categorical concepts, more precisely about monoidal categories. Monoidal categories are an appealing formalism because of their connections with diagrams [1]. So we just … Continue reading

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