by Katrina Schwartz in Mind/Shift
In the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” author Ursula Le Guin describes a utopian city that has everything people want or need — beauty, religion, happiness — but it’s all possible because one child is kept in the dark, separated from all joy and light. Citizens of the city have to go and see this boy, but some can’t take the guilt and walk away.
After reading the story, Lev Fruchter and his class talk about what elements make up utopia and use the conversation as a jumping-off point to talk about equations. They talk about adding good things and multiplying them if they’re really great or, inversely, subtracting things that make people unhappy and dividing the really bad elements. This is all a way of thinking about the math that will eventually run a computer program.
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