Feynman Semester

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Feynman Semester

Inspired by the peculiar character that was Nobel-prize winning, bongo-drum playing, safe-cracking physicist Richard Feynman and his renowned ability to teach complex subjects in a simple manner. I decided to explore a bit more on how Mr. Feynman actually managed to achieve an undisputed level of mastery in such an eclectic number of subjects. The Internet, being the wonderful thing it is, quickly answered my call: I stumbled across a number of videos and articles which introduced me to one of the latest trends of the growing ‘productivity-hacker’ community.

Meet the Feynman Technique

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” -Albert Einstein

This is how it works in ‘pseudo-code’ fashion:

  1. Choose a concept you want to ‘master’.

  2. Teach said concept to a ‘child’ by using analogies and as simple of a language as possible.

  3. If the ‘child’ understands the concept you’re done! Else: Identify & Fix Knowledge Gaps, with new-found knowledge go back to Step 2.

Obviously, this is a gross-oversimplification, but I tried to apply the framework of the Feynman Technique to explain the Feynman Technique itself. (see what I did there?) Also, when I refer to the ‘child’ I do not suggest for you to go out and lecture the nearest five-year-old that you can find. Rather, you should use this as a reference-point when explaining the concept via your desired medium: paper, video, blog, etc.

The genius of the Feynman Technique is that it forces you to actually uncover whether you truly know a subject. Many times we fool ourselves into thinking that we have learned something, when in reality we are simply able to recall a string of vaguely connected notions. Furthermore, I think the whole premise is significantly more entertaining than simply glossing over your notes ad infinitum.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Feynman Technique, I suggest you watch this video on the topic.

The Challenge

Unless you haven’t caught up by know, I will be using the Feynman Technique over the course of my upcoming University Semester.

This semester’s classes are, in my opinion, some of the most interesting courses in my academic career:

-Machine Learning
-Advanced Statistical Methods
-Principles of Finance

Clearly, a nice by-product of the Challenge would be to achieve higher grades, but my real purpose is to be able to understand these subjects at a deep level.

Therefore, the way the ‘challenge’ will work is the following one:

I will be using each course’s respective syllabus as a rough-guide for the topics that I will be covering by employing the Feynman Technique. I will be documenting my progress through this blog and uploading my ‘Feynman Lectures’ on a consistent basis. I will be using Blog posts, Notability (a great note-taking app) and Jupyter Notebooks (for the programming aspects) as my preferred mediums of ‘study’.

Until then…

Juan Diego Donneys Cárdenas © 2018. All rights reserved.

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