Abrahamson, D. (2006). The shape of things to come: The computational pictograph as a bridge from combinatorial space to outcome distribution

International Journal of Computers for Mathematics Learning, 11(1), 137-146.


This snapshot introduces the computational pictograph, an interactive computer-based artifact designed to help students learn mathematics. Focusing on the domain of probability, we will examine a computational pictograph that supports students exploration of the Law of Large Numbers. This law is explored as a coordination between the combinatorial space of a stochastic device – what it is possible to ‘‘get’’ with this device – and the outcome distribution of the device –what you actually ‘‘get’’ when you operate the device and how often you get it. To help students in this exploration, the design of the computational pictograph backgrounds the similarities between the constructs and, thus, foregrounds the critical differences between them. We will look at two implementations of the computational pictograph – the Dice Stalagmite and 9-Block Stalagmite models.