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recently i've posted (what i've been calling)

rambles on foundational topics like

again-soon/">plugging without even chugging</A>,
<A HREF="">how to write
and <A HREF="">symbolic
logic via ordered pairs</A>.

sketches of lectures never to be given

as i now choose to think of 'em...
not that there's anything wrong with
"rambles". i'll probably go right on
*calling* 'em that. just please don't
think my actual *lectures* have ever
been so rambly. necessarily.

okay. what's on my mind today.

about sets and algebra natch.
big picture. how big.
my life story. too big.
publishing and algebra.
and me. just right.
here goes. publishing first.
annus mirabilis:
(actually 68-69; one thinks
in academic years since before
the beginning.)
cops and kids fighting in the streets
and martin and bobby and all that, sure.
but for my purposes:
my beloved 6th-grade.
both my main teachers i loved.
pretty doggone undyingly as it turns out
though of mister ratts i think but seldom.
mary ann di baggio taught us math
and taught us well. *i* got a model
of "math teaching done right".
also, though this had little to do
with miss di baggio directly...
her role was to provide access to equipment
and a receptive environment for us to
share our results in (no small thing
and indeed a very big thing and if
there were a heck of lot more of this
instead of a heck of lot less we wouldn't
now be in a position of having to make
the events of 68 look like a party...
but i digress)... zines.
i did my first self-publishing
in di baggio's class (with
ew mcgarrell</A>,
<A HREF="">peter strickholm</A>, and
tom hoffa (who appears
not to have a webpage):
twenty copies or so (at a guess)
of each of about four issues of GlOAT
(the <A HREF="">lowercase L</A>
is not a misprint). purple "spirit
master" one-side-to-a pagers. (dittos!)
i soon went on to do
(in "printings" of one;
i circulated these kid-by-kid
myself at school after drawing
'em at home) the _ten_page_news_.
i <A HREF="">revived the title</A> years later,
beginning just before the zine boom
(before hypertext... so called e-zines
[and blogs and such]... captured those
easily lured by the easier softer way
of the dark side [including me alas]).
anyhow you get the idea: self-publishing
goes way back for me. i soon began doing
a zine *about* zines: <A
in <A HREF="
TPN piece</A> from 1998, i claimed
that "the ten page news is most
of my social life"... showing that
my interest in self-publishing
also goes way <I>deep</I>.
hypertext was a natural for me;
indeed mike cagle had given me
a copy of ted nelson's
(seminal, self-published)
<A HREF="">_dream_machines_</A>
almost twenty years before the web
broke big (with graphical browsers).
i've recently rambled on this part
of my publishing autobiography already
(in my <A HREF="">"about" page</A>; not
necessarily a good place for it).
so. turning to algebra.
i majored in algebra in the sense
that i wrote <A HREF="
24522281/content~db=all~content=a780122011">my doctoral dissertation</A> on it.
so i trained
as a professor. and was one briefly.
and felt (and still feel) that it was
work i was "born to do". but i soon
lost my professional rank and title.
after a year of death throes in the form
of never-even-an-interview applications
all over the country i quit trying and
worked freelance from then&mdash;1996&mdash;
till the day before yesterday. spring quarter.
as a teacher and tutor. and... ta-dah!
<I>published</I> _vlorbik_on_math_ed_
until the efforts to write up <I>algebra</I>
in blog format finally <A HREF="
my patience</A> (and i quit
blogging for five hot minutes).
part of the point of the turn-of-century
_ten_page_news_ was to have some extra-academic
use for the typesetting system...
$latex \TeX$...
i'd learned for writing up my thesis
and gone on to write exams and quizzes in.
as well as a set of lecture notes.
source files now lost. also for that
matter part of the point of _VME_ itself
was *also* to work with TeX.
it was harder than i thought it would be.
anyhow now i'm at it again.
wordpress i've only learned to do
little things on. and those badly.
but i've got a copy of the real now
on Legion (and it isn't even bootlegged!).
leslie lamport claims that things
have stabilized recently qnd i'm
inclined to trust him even though
he evidently <A HREF="">works for microsloth</A>.
so far so good. i'm producing
pretty pages with unfamiliar ease.
can't yet put 'em online for all to see just now.
which is sort of strange. looks like google
had a page you could do it with easily.
for about a day. but this is conjecture.
by the time i got there they quit
taking on new users. some experimental deal.
all for this morning. what's to eat?

a couple days ago i discussed a

luke/">technique</A> for
listing all the permutations of a (small)
set. essentially this: count the elements.
suppose there are n of 'em.
there are n! (en-<A HREF="
outta-the-boat/">factorial</A>) permutations.

our first letter... whatever it is...

will be the first letter *of*
the *same* number of permutations
as will the second letter
or *any* letter. so we can say
that each letter begins (1/n)th
(one-enth) of the list.
note that (1/n)*n! = (n-1)!
and write out this many copies
of each letter in columns.
end of step one.

for {E,G,B,D,F}... the example

i "assigned"... my first inclination
is to remark that
{E,G,B,D,F} = {B,D,E,F,G}
(sets do *not* depend on order)
and so one could begin as follows.

B____ D____ E____ F____ G____

B____ D____ E____ F____ G____
B____ D____ E____ F____ G____
B____ D____ E____ F____ G____
B____ D____ E____ F____ G____

(24 rows... there are 5!= 120

permutations to discover
and 1/5 *of* 'em start with B:
so there are 24 B's. etcetera.)

in step two we'll fill in the

*second* letter of each permo.
consider the B column only
(for now). there are four
"remaining" letters. each
will appear as the *next*
letter just as many times
as each of the others:
this is 1/4 of the total...
of 24 B's... and so *six*.
"count by sixes" down the
first column: 6 D's, then
6 E's, and so on down.

BD___ D____ E____ F____ G____

BD___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BD___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BD___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BD___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BD___ D____ E____ F____ G____

BE___ D____ E____ F____ G____

BE___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BE___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BE___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BE___ D____ E____ F____ G____
BE___ D____ E____ F____ G____

BF___ D____ E____ F____ G____

BG___ D____ E____ F____ G____

be sure you see what's going on:

all the ideas are in place i think.
if it's clear why we're creating
120 entries in 24 rows and why
we counted by 6's in this step,
everything else should fall into
place pretty easily i hope.
count by sixes throughout *each*
column, omitting whatever letter
has "already been used" of course.

BD___ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___

BD___ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BD___ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BD___ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BD___ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BD___ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___

BE___ DE___ ED___ FD___ GD___

BE___ DE___ ED___ FD___ GD___
BE___ DE___ ED___ FD___ GD___
BE___ DE___ ED___ FD___ GD___
BE___ DE___ ED___ FD___ GD___

BF___ ...
BG___ DG___ EG___ FG___ GF___

each column falls into groups

of six unfinished permutations
as of now. each such set has
two letters present and hence
three letters left to "choose
from". one-third of six is two
so considering "BD" (for example)
we'll add *two* E's, *two* F's,
and *two* G's.

and likewise for *each* of the

sets-of-six: count off
"missing" letters by twos.

BDE__ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___

BDE__ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BDF__ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BDF__ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BDF__ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___
BDF__ DB___ EB___ FB___ GB___

BED__ ...

fill in all the columns by the

same procedure. one now has
a collection of 60 pairs of
three-letter strings.
complete the strings by
attaching their two "missing" letters:
once in one order and once in the other.

of the two BDE's, for example,

one becomes BDEFG
and the other BDEGF.

this completes the whole ordeal.



the philosphically inclined

can assure themselves that
the last bit can be thought
of as counting "by ones"
and "by zeros"; i like to
think of this as counting
*choices* to be made.

more later. madeline's awake.

in recent posts i've typed out

rather detailed descriptions
of a fairly simple process:
forming lists of all the
permutations of a given
(small) finite set.
<A HREF="">four</A>
or <A HREF="">five</A>, say.

any more than five

would be impractical for in-class work
though i can easily imagine assigning a
"neatness counts" *poster* project along
the lines "create a display showing...
exactly once each, prominently and distinctly...
all 720 permutations of the set
{A,B,C,D,E,F}". you fail if it's wrong
of course so check it over several times...
<I>by several different methods</I> if
possible (usually one settles for two
actually... but this is math ed so
the more the better [let's pretend]).

so i now propose to look at methods

of *generating* our lists. thus far
we've examined what i hope is much
the commonest: <B>trees</B>.

given the symbols of {@, ^, *}

("at, hat, and splat") to permute.
let's see if i can draw it
with this typer here.

/ ^
/ \
/ \ *
/ /@
/ /
/-- ^
\ \
\ \*
\ /@
\ /


this moving-around-of-letters
activity of the past couple of
rambles is, or could and (i hope
someday to convince *some*body)
should be, as foundational
in the study of mathematics as
elementary arithmetic (+, -, *, 1/n) or
compass-and-straightedge constructions.

"trust the code" shall be

the whole of the law whenever
*i* set up as math dictator.

this means symbol-by-symbol

every-keystroke-perfect *code*
is, first of all our *subject matter*
when we're studying algebra
every bit as much as it is for its
johnny-come-lately derivative
"computer programming" (whatever
the proper euphemism is these days).

enforcing this level of attention to

detail *without* a computer turns out
to be quite difficult. one of the great
frustrations of my life is that *with*
a computer you can pretty much get
*any*body to perform rituals of
*arbitrary* complexity as long
as no actual *reasoning* is involved
just by convincing them that there's
a paying job in it for them somewhere
if only way down the line behind all
those other poor desparate bastards
that already graduated and have nothing
better to do now but spy on *them*.

but computers are are hard.

to pay for. to understand.
and altogether *impossible*
to maintain for long.

whereas the game

is "simple things first".
(another fine game is
"don't let machines
tell you how to live".
this one's *much* harder.)

*you can do this*.

what's more, having done it...
and had the right *conversations*...
you'll be darn *sure* you can.
and when anybody else...
human or robot overlord
or one of the many blends
emerging all around us daily...
has it *wrong*, you'll *know*.

here is power.
*that*'s what the simplicity is for.

let me go ahead here and admit that

there's plenty of good math you can do
*without* this almost-machine-code
letter-by-letter detail-oriented
*algebra* stuff.

i was an algebra *major*. so i'm biased.

anyway, logicians are worse. but no. really.
this is the stuff that'll make you *good*.

story-of-the-blog-so-far stuff.
last winter when i was blogging
about my math148 precalculus class
(as i think of it; three classes really),
i devoted quite a bit of attention to
finding and implementing the "right"
<I>notation</I> for, what was one of
the big themes of the course,
<B>transformations</B> of the <I>xy</I>-plane.

here as maybe nowhere else

one has an opportunity to *use*
the "points as ordered pairs"
point-of-view so sloppily
developed throughout math101.

because the centerpiece

in everybody *else's* imagination
seems to be the <I>xy</I>-plane
itself... the admittedly epoch-making
observation that by laying down
co-ordinates over a euclidean plane
you get a cartesian plane and all
of a sudden equations have *pictures*.

ooo. aaah.

and these pictures are all well and good

and the basis for the scientific revolution
whether *i* like it or not and all that.

the kids don't get it. and won't

until they believe they can. and
as to "functions as sets of ordered pairs",
the examples given typically...
graphs of polynomials and whatnot...
have manymany scary confusing aspects
already known by the audience to be
well beyond their comprehension.

so it's... well... just *logic*

(not *rocket science*[!]): simple
things first. confused about why
some "transformation" (that doesn't
even have a proper <I>name</I>, let
alone appropriate <I>symbol</I>)
causes "it" (the graph of...
something... but "it" isn't usually
any one thing in these discussions)
to *change* in some particular way?
well, how about a bunch of highfalutin
*technical terms* that you know very
well *you* don't know (and have no
very good reason to be sure about
the teacher)? that'll sure be useful.
(depending on your goals.)

confused about A, B, and C?

*where*, precisely?
how did *yours* look?

in the *spirit* of "keep it simple"

i now propose to ramble some more
about the "simplest interesting case"
of permuting the elements of a set:
the case of *three* elements.



here are two isomorphic "strings".

"isomorphic" means "having the same form".

that the strings... lists of symbols...
*do* have the same form
in some sense is probably obvious to
any reader. heck, six groups of three.
but more than this.

the <B>set isomorphism</B>

$latex A \leftrightarrow X$
$latex B \leftrightarrow Y$
$latex C \leftrightarrow Z$
"induces" (what i'm here calling)
an <I>isomorphism of lists</I>:
replacing each left-hand object
<I>wherever</I> it appears in
our first string with the
corresponding right-hand object
produces the second string.

note that "isomorphism of sets"

is (and deserves to be) standard language
for the kind of one-to-one (and "onto")
<B>function</B> we've displayed here.
two (finite) sets "are isomorphic"
as soon as they have the same number
of elements.

but there will be many different

<I>isomorphisms</I> between any
pair of isomorphic sets.
indeed... theorem 1!... there'll
be <I>n</I>! (en-factorial) <I>of</I> 'em
between any pair of <I>n</I>-element
sets. (you see this, right?...
remember that factorials count

$latex A \rightarrow X$
$latex B \rightarrow Y$
$latex C \rightarrow Z$

$latex A \rightarrow X$
$latex B \rightarrow Z$
$latex C \rightarrow Y$

$latex A \rightarrow Y$
$latex B \rightarrow X$
$latex C \rightarrow Z$

$latex A \leftrightarrow Y$
$latex B \leftrightarrow Z$
$latex C \leftrightarrow X$

$latex A \leftrightarrow Z$
$latex B \leftrightarrow X$
$latex C \leftrightarrow Y$

$latex A \leftrightarrow Z$
$latex B \leftrightarrow Y$
$latex C \leftrightarrow X$

now. in the spirit of the <A

ramble</A> from a couple weeks back.

two <I>exercises</I> are isomorphic

when one can be worked out from the
solution of the other simply by
replacing "letters".

consider the six isomorphisms

from {A, B, C} to {X, Y, Z}.

for a low pass, write out all six

isomorphisms from {a, b, c} to {x, y, z}.

for a passing grade, write out all

six isomorphisms from {P,D,Q} to {E,I,O}.
let $latex P\rightarrow E, D \rightarrow I, Q \rightarrow O$
be denoted by "elbowgrease".
write out the result of applying
elbowgrease to the string PDPDQ.

for a high pass write out the

iso's from {1,2,3,4} to itself.
what happens if you "apply"
an isomorphism <I>to the result</I>
of the application-of-an-iso'ism?

for a pass with distinction learn

"cycle" notation and how to calculate
with isomorphisms-of-sets considered
as members of the so-called
<B>symmetric group</B> on three elements.

essay question for advanced credit.

we've "gone meta" twice in "lifting"
correspondences of sets first
to what we called isomorphisms
of <I>strings</I>, and then to
isomporphisms of <I>exercises</I>.

one could continue to "lift" the

concept to even "higher-level"
groups of data... perhaps introducing
some metaphor along the way to
replace strict symbol-for-symbol

find a pair of textbooks covering

transformations of the plane.
display an "isomorphism" between
the bone-headed wrong ways the
relevant sections of your chosen
texts leave out crucial concepts and
fudge important details.

develop a theory of how this state

of affairs came about. for the
love of god and the gratitude
of generations still to come
do something to change it.