Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Step Functions

Paco spoke about how some learning curves follow "step functions". You are flat for a while, then boom! you move up. Then flat for another while, and up again. He experience that when learning to kitesurf. I mentioned other learning curves: linear, exponentials, logarithmic.

Nico didn't know what a logarithmic curve was. I explained that you improved very fast early on but as you became better it took longer and longer to make incremental improvements.

These curves are easy to identify once you see them in perspective but if you just look at too small of a section of the curve you might mistake one for another. For example, exponential or logarithmic curves look like linear curves in some areas, and the time horizon is not always clear. It might be seconds or minutes for some things, e.g., some chemical or biological reactions, but centuries for others, e.g., climate change, evolution. And of course when we are learning in a step function it often feels flat and frustrating. So we need to remind ourself there is a step down the road that we will eventually climb.

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