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02-loop example should not suggest naive evaluation of polynomials #378

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godmar opened this Issue May 16, 2017 · 3 comments

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@godmar

godmar commented May 16, 2017

According to the main website, Software Carpentry's goal is to teach basic lab skills "for research computing."

For this reason, I would remove or replace the example: "Computing the Value of a Polynomial" as it suggests a naive method of evaluating polynomials that is inefficient in general and particularly unsuited for floating point numbers due to its lack of numerical stability and accuracy - but in the context of this lesson, floating point numbers are otherwise frequently used. A novice (and SWC is targeting novices) may conclude that this is an actual usable method.

Even though the point of the exercise appears to be to practice Python's enumerate function, I would still avoid this particularly bad example, or at the very least, attach a strongly worded warning: "you would not use this method of evaluating polynomials in real life applications."

@tbekolay

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tbekolay commented May 16, 2017

I'm cool with adding a warning, though I would prefer one kindly worded rather than strongly worded (i.e., point the reader to better alternatives rather than telling them that this option is a bad one).

I'd be okay with removing the example if another example using enumerate were put in its place.

@godmar

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godmar commented May 18, 2017

What is the recommended format for including references to other sources?

@ntmoore

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ntmoore commented May 18, 2017

lwrubel added a commit to lwrubel/python-novice-inflammation that referenced this issue May 19, 2018

Changing exercise with enumerate() to a simpler example.
Addresses issue swcarpentry#378: "02-loop example should not suggest naive
evaluation of polynomials".

lwrubel added a commit to lwrubel/python-novice-inflammation that referenced this issue May 19, 2018

Changing exercise with enumerate() to a simpler example.
Addresses issue swcarpentry#378: "02-loop example should not suggest naive
evaluation of polynomials".

lwrubel added a commit to lwrubel/python-novice-inflammation that referenced this issue May 19, 2018

Changing exercise with enumerate() to a simpler example.
Addresses issue swcarpentry#378: "02-loop example should not suggest naive
evaluation of polynomials".
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