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Old 12-30-2017, 09:27 PM
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ebacon ebacon is offline
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Slippery Slope: Eta

During the 1980s the contrast between attending university and attending community college might be captured in the movie "Animal House". I was a community college guy taking electronics classes. The school felt real, I mean I was learning everything that I was supposed to about transistor gain, machine coding computers, and I even had a phys ed requirement. I wanted camping but that class was cancelled due to low enrollment. My hope was to pick up a babe around a campfire. Damn. Instead I enrolled in scuba diving and a co-instructor was a cop. He had the babe and I had a rubber suit.

If you have read this far then you understand the power of storytelling and how desperately humans want to learn from each other. For me the movie "Animal House" drew a stark contrast between my community college and university. Community college had math and university had beer and babes. Damn! I needed to finish community college and transfer my credits to university.

There's a chink in the armor at that step. Admission officers know it. What I discovered was an inefficient route to university, beer, and babes. Stick with me and start to focus on how I use the the word efficiency. If there is a debate in this thread then that is topic I hope that it starts with.

At university I began to experience the Greek life that I wanted from "Animal House". I was learning calculus in one building and engineering in another building. My heart was fascinated with the rigidity of mathematics. It reminded me of my Italian neighbors that worked with bricks. They did everything right, drove Trans Ams, and had hot broads. But I sucked at math. I would never be a mathematician or an Italian.

But being Greek still held hope. The movie Animal House gave me that hope and it took root when I started to learn how to express a catch-phrase such as "conservation of energy", e.g. efficiency, as lower case eta. Shit balls. I was beyond Animal House. I thought that I was in tune with the Greeks. I know eta mutha fuckers.

As that part of my life developed I also learned about a dance between mathematicians and engineers. Mathematicians tend to be purists and engineers tend to be conservators. When they have gentlemanly disagreements they poke at each others "fudge factors". When it comes to efficiency, fudge factors are on the right side of the decimal point. Engineers learn that eta can never be greater than one. eta apparently has upper and lower cases.

Enter economics class in university. I was broadsided with the notion that a dollar input could indefinitely produce more than a dollar output, i.e. violate engineering efficiency. At the time, which was about thirty years ago, I would have used the most harsh language that mathematicians, engineers, and economists used to pause each others arguments for a moment. That language approached the strength of "painful gyration" because debates felt like a dance.

Tonight I wonder why mathemagicians use different symbols to represent efficiency? What exactly is it that humankind is trying to get good at?

In the middle of that might be the difference between upper and lower case eta and which 1 is more afraid to actually be efficient.

I dunno. Just rambling.
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Last edited by ebacon; 12-30-2017 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:44 PM
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donquixote99 donquixote99 is offline
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Have you ever seen the little 'mathematical' exploration of the implications of this famous pair of equations?

1.Time is money
2. Money is power

With the addition of a third equation:

3. Power is work over time

a number of interesting conclusions can be drawn using only simple algebra.

(Application of the engineering concept of efficiency to the time value of money is, I think, mathematics of the same sort.)
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:53 PM
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Further, your painful gyrations I think are directly comparable to the pain that leads Trump supporters to the conviction that the mainstream press constantly lies about Trump. I don't mean to compare you to such people in general, I assure you, but I compare the mental pain and the class of mental event that elicit it, that is, something attacking a belief to which one is solidly committed.
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