Looking for math everywhere

Funny how, even when training some pretty straightforward (and boring) arithmetic or Dutch reading, Simon tries to introduce more complex notions like here,

the floor, ceiling and round functions while solving a simple arithmetic word problem:

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and lexicographic order, while sequencing Dutch story sentences:

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On Social Development

Last night Simon had this social experience like never before: for the first time in his life, he followed a long (nearly 3 hrs) live programming session and actively participated in the live chat, alongside hundreds of other programmers (most of them university students or professionals). Maybe I should add that the tutorial was about algorithms for neural networks and a lot of it was calculus-related. As the session progressed I watched Simon dance in excitement. Although it was pretty late and he hadn’t completed all the bedtime rituals (like daily piano practice and bath) I let him stay online while I went to the children’s bedroom to read to his little sister and we continuously heard his euphoric yells from the living room. Then, after the session ended, he rushed to me, his whole face glowing with happiness. He suggested something in the chat and Daniel Shiffman (the brilliant assistant professor from NYU whose courses Simon follows on a daily basis and who also gave that live session) mentioned his name and said it was a great suggestion! I started a warm shower for Simon and heard him enthusiastically reflect upon everything that had just happened while he was showering. He was talking to himself out loud in English.

I think Simon is going to follow all the weekly live sessions from now on.

This has made me think that it’s probably time to realize that to Simon, the social opportunities that the technological age offers are much more real than they may seem to an outside observer. And maybe we, his parents, should stop worrying about not being able to find mentors and peers who can match his interest and depth in our geographical area. Being Simon’s mom I begin to realize like never before that there’s a whole world out there.

Slack Chat Neural Networks 2 Jun 2017 2

Slack Chat Neural Networks 2 Jun 2017

2048

We had a great Sunday visiting friends in The Netherlands whose kids resemble Simon in many ways. Simon made his signature bubble solution:

and learned about ray tracing in Java:

After I asked him that evening, what he loved most from the past weekend (that also involved sleeping over at grandparents’ house in Friesland), he said: trying to write code for 2048! I was surprised to hear that as I saw him do several projects in the course of the weekend but no “2048”. What is 2048? It turned out that, after he got tired of playing and snuggled with his laptop in the living room at our friends’ home, Simon tried to write his own code for a game he had played almost two years ago, involving the powers of 2. “It just got into my head!” he explained in the car on the way back. The video below is how far Simon got coding the game:

 

Wild Hyacinths

We went to see the wild hyacinths at a forest near Brussels yesterday.  Although Simon did have his usual “I’m too tired to walk” moments and I even carried him on my shoulders a couple of times, I found it quite unusual to see how much pleasure he had picking a little flower bouquet and tenderly carrying it all the way, worried that the flowers are “unhappy” without water. “I’m going to sort them into several vases back home, Mom!” he said, touching the buttercup buds, “the babies”. I told him he was not allowed to pick the hyacinths, so it was mainly the dandelions he had in his hand.

He was also very curious about how the real camera works and made several nice photographs, almost properly focused. Another point of interest was the lifespan of trees and how one can calculate their age by counting the circles inside the tree trunk.

The social Simon

I was mesmerized to see how caring Simon was towards a much younger child visiting us from abroad. Simon interrupted his autodiductive learning to engage with our guest in playing games and building models that he normally no longer finds interesting, he was very attentive and patient explaining how everything works and even told the little guy he loved him. Later this week, Simon also played Easter treasure hunt with other children at his Dad’s office and was very hyper about the whole activity. We clearly observe a more “social” Simon since a couple of months. His voice has lowered and got more self-assured, his responsiveness increased. Amazing what just one year of freedom can do!

Genetic Algorithm

“Mommy! Genetic algorithm is AI, ML and DL all at the same time! Scary information. It’s scary information for me,” Simon stares at me, a brand new Daniel Shiffman tutorial on intelligence and learning paused on the screen.  I come up to my little boy and hold him. We talk about AI and his fears. Does he sense the grandeur, the tsunami of technological change that is about to engulf us? “I quite like my life as it currently is”, he once told me during a similar conversation while trying to pinpoint why he sometimes feels afraid of AI.

After a short break he resumes watching Daniel Shiffman talk about the final and the most exciting chapter of his book The Nature of Code. Later the same evening Simon attempts to write a genetic algorithm code. He hasn’t finished yet when I call him to bed. He file-saves the code to resume tomorrow and sighs: “Last night, the sleeping lasted so long!” On his screen, I see written in Java:

 

Genetic Algorithm 28 Mar 2017