Abstractions feel concrete

Things that people say are abstract such as mathematics feel to me, having training and inclinations towards that subject, very concrete, particular and real.  They are not things for which the rules and nature are not clearly understandable, like justice and freedom. Perhaps the ability to deal with abstract things is the ability to think about them in the same way as concrete things.  Of course, this way of dealing with things may be much more successful in areas such as programming and mathematics than it is in areas like ethics and esthetics.

The following paper probes the trouble with seeking correlations between programming ability and “abstraction” ability. It classifies various meanings of abstraction and reports research into correlating measurements of kinds of abstraction ability with performance in computer science courses: “Abstraction Ability as an Indicator of Success for Learning Computing Science?” by  Bennedsen and Caspersen in ICER’08, September 6–7, 2008, Sydney, Australia( http://www.daimi.au.dk/~mec/publications/conference/32–icer2008.pdf )


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  • chaikens  On April 1, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Has anyone investigated the difference between, shall we say, abstract thinking and generic thinking? Example: To think that Q (the set of rational numbers) is a subset of R (the set of real numbers) is abstract thinking.

    Here is the thinking of the same idea in generic style: Consider number 23/7. It is rational, and therefore it is real, because the real numbers are defined by starting with the rationals and adding an element for each Cauchy sequence, say. The same thinking applies to any rational number x.

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