March 16, 2012

Speed Reading: Taking care, moving backwards, slowing down…

Follow-up to Speed Reading: Even though I am a mathematician… from Midgley, Christopher - Pointless twaddle and meaningless diatribes

Tutor was Han-Na Cha.

Points were read symbols until you get as good at reading symbols as words and try reading out of order because I’ve found previously that focusing on more than two things at the same time is a good way to forget what I’m doing and not get much done :). If we need three, an additional (fair) one could be slow down your default reading speed to increase comprehension - it wasn’t until the session where I, not thinking I was doing anything differently, hit 650 wpm as my normal speed and realised that that was so much faster than other people read. A rough timing showed that my speed of reading fiction (at least on a screen) is about that quick as well (around 150,000 words in a four hour block). I think my reading speed is slower when it comes to books (although I haven’t tested this); I do the vast majority of my reading from a screen.

Let’s comment on the second one first, because that’s shorter. If a summary, or key point list, is offered at the end, it’s convenient to do that -> section headings -> start, linearly forward to get some indication of where it’s going and which parts to skip over. If not, the section headings themselves offer a decent summary (often, yet not always).

Onto the first: reading symbols. We begin, naturally, with an example.
(\forall x,y)(\forall \epsilon > 0)(\exists \delta)(|x-y|< \delta \Rightarrow |f(x)-f(y)|<\epsilon)
This one is the definition of continuity of a function f everywhere. Once again, the brackets here provide an obvious chunk. Draw attention, here, to the first triplet:
(\forall x,y)(\forall \epsilon > 0)(\exists \delta)
This is /also/ a chunk: that is, it’s a combination you see a lot, and it’s also the initiation step for this sentence: we have initiation, followed by statement. It’s also importantly different from
(\forall \epsilon > 0)(\exists \delta)(\forall x,y)
which is used for uniform continuity, despite sharing all three chunked phrases, with two paired.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out the way to get better at reading is to read more, and look out for the patterns that emerge.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Han-na Cha

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for clarifying the action points. Good update – I’ve been on holiday for 2 weeks so going to read your updates from this one.

    10 Apr 2012, 16:28

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