Write-only memory

Recently, during one of my lectures, I told the students that there are three kinds of memory:

  1. Read-Write Memory (RWM). Data can be read out of RWM devices and, if required, new data can be written back into them. RWMs are more commonly known as Random-Access Memories (RAMs).
  2. Read-Only Memory (ROM). Other components in the system can read (extract) data from ROM devices, but cannot write (insert) new data into them.
  3. Write-Only Memory (WOM). You can write data into it, but you can’t read that data back out again.

In the end, I said that one of my slides contained an absolute nonsense, and that while I had been telling this nonsense, I had tried hard not to burst into laughter. So, I challenged them, that those students who find this nonsense would get an extra mark.

I was surprised how few students found it. They went through my lectures but overlooked this funny thing.

The nonsense is, of course, WOM. What is the point of writing data to a place from where you cannot read them back again?

Later, I gave them a quiz. To my surprise, even those students who had found the nonsense, wrote in the quiz that there are three kinds of memory: ROM, RAM and WOM. I still wonder why they did it.

Students, please, don’t believe everything the lecturer teaches you. He can teach you wrong things. Sometimes he wants to make fun of you. Other times he just makes mistakes. To err is human. Errare humanum est.

They obviously wanted to write “To err is human” but … to err is human, you know…
Source: TypoInColombo

P.S. I found this WOM joke in the book: Clive Maxfield, Bebop to the Boolean Boogie. An Unconventional Guide to Electronics.

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Published in: on 07/09/2012 at 19:32  Comments (5)  

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  1. LOL if you can read sinhala notes on three wheels you may find things more funny than this..

    That’s the problem with sri lankan traditional school education..they were train to believe and accept everything that teacher teaches. If teacher said 1+2 is 5 and they will not argue about this cause that student who argue about that is considered as disobeyed. In Tradition students are supposed to believe what teacher says he/she may not have chance to question about it.student who is not questioning get more marks than student who question about things, Because once student questioned teachers are considering him as a student who is not ready to believe teachers and that’s sign of a bad discipline.

    That is the main reason that you may have seen your own phrase of lecture note in their answer sheet..in school education they were train to answer as same as teacher taught. Some teachers use to give some extra marks for students who has written the same thing that they were told. they know they get marks for sure if they wrote the same thing as teacher said. So they hard code everything in mind before exam and then write all even without knowing the real scenario.

    This is the sad situation in traditional school education system..sadly when this student came to university they continue same behavior. For this we can’t blame only to students.. School teachers also responsible for this. We respect them they have spend their valuable time to teach us..if they did not teach us alphabetic at school i cant do any thing now. But the system should change for better outcome.

    • I don’t blame them. I pity them. One student recently asked me if they need to memorize all the programming code that I had given in the lectures. I almost fainted.

      This is not the only flaw in your education system. The worst thing, in my opinion, is that from the early childhood through the highest degrees, you are only taught to learn facts that are given to you from above. You are never taught to think yourselves.

      My wife is now homeschooling my 6 years old daughter. We have textbooks from different countries. Recently, we compared first grade maths textbooks from India and from Kazakhstan.

      The Indian textbook had more advanced level of calculations than the Kazakh one. It included addition with carrying, subtraction with borrowing, and even multiplication. According to the program from Kazakhstan, first grade children learn calculations mostly between 1 and 10.

      However, the book from Kazakhstan has tasks that Indian book lacks. Children are asked to compare different solutions for the same problem. Almost every page has “why” questions. Students are often asked to find connections between different problems, or to construct a problem that is the opposite to a given problem.

      In other words, Indian children (and I am sure, Sri lankan as well) are only taught to learn things. To learn a lot. Children from Kazakhstan are taught to think. Indians and Sri Lankans are not taught to think. They are trained to be slaves. Highly qualified slaves. They are taught a lot of skills useful for a hard work but someone else is supposed to think what to do and give them this work.

      My university students here have no problem if I give them a complicated programming task. They do it if I tell them to do it. I am sure that they will even learn the whole textbook by heart including all the code in it.

      However, they will be totally lost it I ask them “why” something is happening in a certain way, or ask other questions which requires original thinking instead of mere doing.

      That is the reason I don’t want to send my children to Sri Lankan schools. I don’t want them to become highly qualified slaves.

      What I am always desperately trying to do with my students is to make them think. I don’t want to produce more slaves. And this is what your education system needs.

      • Exactly sir.. I’m also a product of this education system.. I Will tell you one simple example in my life time.. When i was in school i did chemistry. I never had a chance to mixed two compounds that i need to mix and see the result. So my thoughts were only with me i never had a chance to try them practically.

        Because in chemistry lab you are only allowed to do the practicals which you have given in your Text Book for the syllabus.In the text book they have mention the quantities and compounds and how to mix.So we were only allowed to do the steps they have written.

        This is not about doing something mischievous and blow about the whole lab. 😀

        I have learned from you , i have seen that you are giving us opportunity to think beyond what you have teach and question about what you have taught. That’s why i like your style so much.

  2. Deer sir,
    I added grate thing to my mind by Reading this post… we are suffering from learning sick… because of that we are lacking from thinking ability. But sir 75% of the reasons for this problem is on behalf of evaluating system of ours.. it’s much more concern about definitions rather than applications.. as a reason we haven’t enough time to think rather than Reading.. so its not a distinctive result we are adapting to reading not to applying or even memorizing. Actual situation is we cant memorize past learning.. we read all the things before the exam and release them on to the paper.. And also good thinkers haven’t any of place in this system. Industry needs practitioners, neither readers or followers. We have A+ on the Result sheet but E+ in working sheet.

    When i came to the university i thought that we are going to learn how to work by doing experiments… but only thing i mate is Reading again.. most of my colleague are Trying to go off from this system by doing there own experimental projects.. But the result is LOW MARKS for the exam . not only for the theory but also for the practicals. This is the best time of our lives sir. this is the best time for learning things. because of that this is the place we need to confirm our future life root. but with this boring read only system discourage us to further leanings.

    One day my school teacher did a speech on the morning assembly. he told as students we need 3 things
    1. Eagle Eye. : For Identifying Opportunities
    2. Pig spout : For Find Opportunities.
    3. Donkey back : For tenure the Risk of that Opportunity.

    but with this system only we need Donkey back. As the result we have donkey Brain..

    As Our 25% we have language barrier. Specially with English. at the school age we are learning by using Singhala Or Tamil. but in the university instantly we need to adapt with English. Mostly we know what is the answer but we cant express it in English. i know that is our responsibility to rise our Language skills. but some how we missed it and we will miss it.

    I know we cant change this system. because we need to obey for the Democracy . So we are following it. that’s the thing happening sir .

    Thanks again and again for this Post sir..

    • English is not such a big problem. English is not native for all of us here. We all speak incorrectly but it doesn’t prevent us from understanding each other.

      You often persuade yourselves that your English is bad and keep silent when you actually should speak or write.

      I have met people whose English was better than mine yet they refused to apply for a lecturer job because they thought that their English was not good enough.

      Never let a language problem stop you.


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