English for CS

blaredsnottyAI and Robotics

Nov 15, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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English for CS

ANALOGY

An extended comparison is called an
analogy
.


These are frequently used in academic writing to assist understanding. For example,
the relationships between different European languages are very often described in
terms of a
family tr
ee
, with many languages
descending

from the
ancestral

language,
Indo
-
European. In this analogy, languages are
born

and
die

like people; they have
offspring

(usually
daughters
) and
close

and
distant relations
.

The analogy is useful, but we have to remember

that it is only ever an analogy. In
this case, for example, languages are not like people, and the situation is infinitely
more complex than this description suggests.

USING AN ANALOGY TO EXPLAIN HOW SOMETHING WORKS

IN CS

EXAMPLE ONE:

To see how register
s, memory, and second storage all work
together, let us use the analogy of making a salad. In our kitchen we have:



a refrigerator where we store our vegetables for the salad;



a counter where we place all of our veggies before putting them on the
cutting
board for chopping;



a cutting board on the counter where we chop the vegetables;



a recipe that details what veggies to chop;



the corners of the cutting board are kept free for partially chopped piles of
veggies that we intend to chop more or to mix with

other partially chopped
veggies.



a bowl on the counter where we mix and store the salad;



space in the refrigerator to put the mixed salad after it is made.

The process of making the salad is then: bring the veggies from the fridge to the
counter top; p
lace some veggies on the chopping board according to the recipe;
chop the veggies, possibly storing some partially chopped veggies temporarily on the
corners of the cutting board; place all the veggies in the bowl to either put back in
the fridge or put di
rectly on the dinner table.

The refrigerator is the equivalent of secondary (disk) storage. It can store high
volumes of veggies for long periods of time. The counter top is the equivalent of the
computer's motherboard
-

everything is done on the counter
(inside the computer).
The cutting board is the ALU
-

the work gets done there. The recipe is the control
unit
-

it tells you what to do on the cutting board (ALU). Space on the counter top is
the equivalent of RAM memory
-

all veggies must be brought from

the fridge and
placed on the counter top for fast access. Note that the counter top (RAM) is faster
to access than the fridge (disk), but can not hold as much, and can not hold it for
long periods of time. The corners of the cutting board where we tempora
rily store
partially chopped veggies are equivalent to the registers. The corners of the cutting
board are very fast to access for chopping, but can not hold much. The salad bowl is
like a temporary register, it is for storing the salad waiting to take bac
k to the fridge
(putting data back on a disk) or for taking to the dinner table (outputting the data to
an output device).

Source:
http://homepage.cs.uri.edu/faculty/wolf
e/book/Readings/Reading04.htm

EXAMPLE TWO:

For me using analogies is sometimes the only way to make a user
realise what a computer does for them.


For instance I am always hearing people talk of disk space as 'memory'. The
analogies I use to explain the d
ifference between disk space and memory are as
follows
-


Computer memory (RAM) is like the size of your desk.


If you are doing some research and you have lots of reference books and papers
you
want to constantly refer to

but only have a small desk you w
ould soon fill that desk
leaving you only a small space to actually work on. Books piled on each other would
have to be slowly moved a
round, making sure you don't lo
se the order the books are
in while you look for the info you want.


Eventually you will k
nock stuff off your desk and it will 'crash' to the floor making you
stop your research (this is when a small glimmer of understanding starts to appear in
their eyes).


More RAM (computer memory) is equivalent to having a much larger desk on which
you can
lay out all your reference material so that it can be got at quicker and easier
and you can spread yourself around more with less fear of your reference materials
'crashing' to the floor.


Therefore the bigger the desk (the more computer memory or RAM you

have) the
quicker you can work and the less likely your computer will crash (this is when a
glimmer of understanding gets brighter).


I explain that disk space is the same as 'cupboard space'. It is where you store things.


The more cu
pboard space you h
ave access to

in your office the more papers, books,
etc, you can store ready for easy retrieval; especially if you label the cupboards, files
and folders properly (and this is when the glimmer of understanding becomes a
shining light).


EXAMPLE THREE:

An
easy, EASY analogy for users re: disk space and memory: Hard
drive storage is like your brain's long term memory; you file something and don't
necessarily think about it again, but it's still there somewhere. RAM is like your short
term memory; it's what y
ou are thinking about right now. (If you need to go there,
the paging file is just extra short term memory for when you're thinking really hard!)

Source:
http://techrepublic.com.com/5208
-
13583
-
0.html?forumID=102&threadID=259578&messageID=2467251

TASK A:

Which example do you think is the most successful and why? Write your
own analogy, extending a comparison with any element in computer science with
s
omething else.

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Have you ever heard of BIOMIMICRY?

In the link below, it has been described as
“…the practice of developing su
stainable human technologies inspired by nature.
Sometimes called Biomimetics or Bionics, it's basically biologically inspired
engineering…”

http://brainz.org/15
-
coolest
-
cases
-
biomimicry/


TAS
K B:
Go to the biomimicry site and
EITHER

summarise two of the 15 examples,

OR

answer this question: How do you thing analogy is important in the fields of
science and invention?


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