“Splasho” has has created an online text editor which checks to make sure you use only the 1000 most common English words, inspired by this recent XKCD comic. Over the past few weeks, many scientists have taken up the challenge of explaining their work using only the 1000 most common words—which is not easy! As soon as I saw this I knew I had to try it. So here’s mine. This is essentially a recap of my previous post, but this time using a severely limited vocabulary.
Suppose you want a computer to do something that no one has ever
made a computer do before. Computers are amazing because they
can do anything you want—even things that no one has ever
thought of before!—and they are very good at following
directions. But you have to tell them EXACTLY what to do.
If you want to tell a person what to do, you use human words.
But if you want to tell a computer what to do, you can not use
human words. You have to use computer words that the computer
Sometimes it is easy to use computer words to tell a computer
what to do. But sometimes it is hard, and sometimes it takes
very many words, and sometimes you say the wrong thing so the
computer does something you did not want it to do. I think
about how to make better computer words so that it is easier to
tell a computer what to do, or so that it does not take as many
words, or so that it is not so easy to say the wrong thing.
Some people with fast brains have thought about interesting
things with numbers. But when they were thinking about those
interesting number things they were not thinking about computers
or computer words. I take the interesting things with numbers
and use them to make better computer words. It’s amazing that
the interesting number things can help make better computer
words, even though the people who first thought about them did
not imagine they could do that. This often happens with
interesting number things. People think about them just because
they are interesting, and then later other people find out that
the interesting number things help with something that no one