Thursday, June 08, 2006

Word of the Day #17: heuristic

heu·ris·tic ( P ) Pronunciation Key (hy-rstk)
Of or relating to a usually speculative formulation serving as a guide in the investigation or solution of a problem: “The historian discovers the past by the judicious use of such a heuristic device as the ‘ideal type’” (Karl J. Weintraub).
Of or constituting an educational method in which learning takes place through discoveries that result from investigations made by the student.
Computer Science. Relating to or using a problem-solving technique in which the most appropriate solution of several found by alternative methods is selected at successive stages of a program for use in the next step of the program.

A heuristic method or process.
heuristics (used with a sing. verb) The study and application of heuristic methods and processes.

I started my writing course yesterday. It took almost as long to get to the campus as it did for the course but that's okay. It was a nice day for a drive.

I really enjoyed my first session and I'm looking forward to the rest of them. Our instructor "Tom" is very personable and he makes the topic matter quite interesting. We covered a varitety of items including writing process, critical and creative thinking skills, grammer and puncuation.

Get this. The eternal question for Canadians is how to punctuate the following:

a b and c

do you do it: a, b, and c. or a, b and c?

Apparently the former is American (and how Microsoft likes to see it) and the latter is British. I have struggled with this for a long time so I was interested to hear his take on it. He concluded that we would be better off doing "a, b, and c." The American way. His reasoning is that it is more consistent and clearer. For example if you say "After class I'm going out for beer, rum and coke, and wiskey." That second comma groups the rum and coke together. I don't know if it makes sense here but he did last night. There were lots of other great tips too.

It has been a *long* time since I have been in a classroom setting and even longer since I've studied grammer and punctuation so I am overdue.

Now to get going on the assignments...


1 comment:

Veronica in Aus said...

Hmph. I do it the British way. No real surprise there ;)