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Hiding Complexity

Intuitively, this feels accurate to me (at least for a certain category of problems - those that are solvable with divide and conquer strategies).

I've always viewed most software best-practices (e.g. modularity, loose-coupling, SOLID principles) as techniques for "managing complexity".

Programming is hard to begin with, and programming large systems is even harder. If the code you're looking at is thousands of lines of code in a single file with no apparent structure, then it's extremely hard to reason about. That's why we have "methods", a mechanism to mentally tuck away pieces of related functionality and abstract them into just a method name. Then, when that wasn't enough, we came up with classes, namespaces, projects, microservices ..etc.

Also, I agree that a good amount of learning works this way. I would even point to "teaching" as another example of this. Teaching someone a complex topic often involves deciding what "levels" of understanding are at play, and what subproblems can be abstracted away at each level until the learner masters the current level. This works both when you teach someone in a top-down fashion (you're doing the division of problems for them and helping them learn the subsolutions, recursively), or a bottom-up fashion (you teach them a particular low-level solution, then name the subproblem you've just solved, zoom out, and repeat).

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

My first downvote, yay! Didn't feel that bad :)

Anyway, my comment was merely an attempt to allay the philosophical worries expressed in the parent quote and so I used the same terms; it wasn't meant as pedagogy.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

Luckily you only have to make fewer mistakes than your opponent to win.

Rationality: From AI to Zombies

Good work guys!

This might be the excuse I need to finally go through the complete sequences as opposed to relying on cherry-picking posts whenever I encounter a reference I don't already know.

Innate Mathematical Ability

Not buying anything, just trying to satisfy my desire to optimize any skill I have (Raven's matrices, crumbled paper basketball, driving, how to hold a pen, or any other skill).

See my previous answers to JonahSinick for more details.

Innate Mathematical Ability

I appreciate your response, but I think you're forgetting my original question.

I got the answer in under 2 minutes (didn't time it exactly). However, when I first identified my answer candidate (answer 2), it was probably about two thirds of the way in. I got the correct answer by going across at first, but then spent additional time double checking my work using columns, and then double checking my answer before "committing".

I got the answer correctly and in under 2 minutes. I saw the pattern relatively effortlessly, but was only inquiring as to how to optimize the speed by fixing my "hesitation" to commit to the answer until I've double-checked it and ruled out any bait answers as well.

Innate Mathematical Ability

I'm reminded of Graham's number (g notation) as an example where new notation (kind of) was invented for the purposes of a math paper.

I read a riveting blog post a few months ago introducing several concepts and building up to graham's number in a very accessible read if anyone's interested:

Innate Mathematical Ability

I agree with your overall response, but your note that "weird-looking notation intimidates you" kind of surprised me.

From my perspective, it's not a question of intimidation so much as it is a recognition that the question is targeting a different audience (one who knows such notation).

If you encounter new notation, there is no way to derive the answer anyway by simply "facing" it head on (i.e. without being intimidated), you actually have to look up the notation and any associated information you didn't already know, which requires a higher activation energy (and enthusiasm) than trying your hand at a question with known notation.

Innate Mathematical Ability

See my response to JonahSinick below

Innate Mathematical Ability

The replies to my query suggest a bit of concern that I'm be placing too much value on IQ tests, which to be honest is not quite true. I've never actually taken a formal IQ test and don't actually know my IQ score. It's really not a big concern to me, though I do believe I'm smarter than average, but then again, most people think that too.

However, to answer your question,it's just my personality - I like to optimize stuff. It doesn't matter what it is, if I recognize that there's a slightly more efficient way to do something, I want to learn it and do it better. It can be as simple as someone throwing a crumbled paper into a recycling bin from a few feet away, if I notice someone is able to do that slightly more efficiently than the way I'm doing it and with better results, then I get really curious and determined to figure out how to optimize my own shots.

So, along that same thread, I noticed inefficiencies in my IQ test taking skills (as I outlined in my original question), which prompted me to query you guys for any tips for improvement.

And in response to shminux and Ilya's concerns, this personality trait of mine is actually quite healthy and a valued asset, it's the reason why I did well academically and am doing well in my career, so nothing to worry about!

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