Fri, 30th Aug 2013, 02:54
A student writes: > Hi Dr. Patt! > I was just wondering if you would like your students to print out the > problem set page, fill it out, and turn it in, or if it'd be ok to just > write their answers on a separate sheet of paper without having to print > out a physical copy of the problem sets. > Thanks! > > <
>In class yesterday, I noted that one of the major differences between natural languages that humans use with other humans (like English, French, Chinese, etc.) and mechanical languages (like C++, JAVA, etc.) that we use to communicate with computers is ambiguity. That is, the computer can not deal with any instruction that can be interpreted more than one way: everything must be unambiguous! (There is a strong research effort to change that with respect to computers, but that is well beyond our interests in EE 306.) So, yes, English can be ambiguous. So, I try very hard to make my instructions unambiguous, although I do not always succeed. However, in this case, is there anything ambiguous about the instruction: "Please print this form, fill it in, and turn in with a current photo..."? ...and yes, I do have a reason for wanting you to actually print the form. Sorry to waste everyone's time with this, since I hope most of you found the statement unambiguous. But it did give me an opportunity to emphasize an important difference between natural languages and computer languages, so perhaps I was not wasting your time afterall. :-) By the way, the student asked if I wanted him to print out the problem set page. I assume he meant the Student Information page, since nowhere in the assignment does it say anything about printing the problem set page. Have a great weekend.