Bank Of Solved Problems - Concept Bob Leverett
  February 08, 2009


         On Friday, Monica and I returned from a trip to Schuylerville and Schenectady , NY . Monica had a concert at Union College in Schenectady and we stayed with Hilary Tann and her husband David Bullard in Schuylerville. Hilary is a professor of music and the recognized national composer of Wales . Her music concentrates on nature. She writes beautifully and captures the moods of the landscapes that she musically profiles. Of special interest to me is that her music is accessible to the general public, a feature not shared by all contemporary composers of serious music.          

         Staying with David and Hillary was a real treat. They live in a historic home called the Marshall House. You can read about it at . The history of the house is fascinating and the surrounding countryside is bucolic. To the east, the Taconic mountains rise and to the west the southern tip of the Adirondacks . The Marshall House is on a hill above the Hudson River . Located north of Schuylerville about 12 miles is Argyle. There stands the northern most stand of tuliptrees according to a local lumberman who I met. Needless to say there will be a trip to Argyle when the weather improves. On Wednesday night, the temperature was -7 degrees in Schuylerville. On Thursday it was bitterly cold all day with a bone chilling wind. No tree hunting in such unpleasant weather.

            On Wednesday afternoon I waited while Monica conducted a class as a guest lecturer for Hilary. I began thinking about presenting a set of simple problems to the list Ė one at a time. Each problem would hopefully stimulate the tree measuring Ents among us to think not just about the problem being presented, but also about related problems and their solutions. We would gradually build up a bank of solved problems relating to determining tree dimensions. Maybe Ed could create another button on the website to store the problems and solutions as a worthy topic. We would start fairly simple and build up to include a more sophisticated problem set over time.

            It might seem odd to some Ents that I would suggest building a bank of solved problems. Donít all Ents who measure trees know how to solve a sufficiently broad set of problems associated with determining tree dimensions? Do we really need an on-line tree measuring course #101? Well, some Ents do currently possess the basic knowledge, but we need to always be sensitive to the fact that others are still in the learning phase. Then there will always be the new recruits who come into the game amidst technical terms being bandied about with no accompanying explanations . While the mathematics we employ is usually limited to basic algebra, trigonometry, and geometry, this level can be intimidating to people who tend to shy away from math. Seeing formulas can quickly  discourage an even enthusiastic and talented would-be tree measurer. However, there are no true shortcuts. People who try to master tree measuring by peering through an instrument and reading a scale that presumably does all the necessary math behind the scenes tend to make whopping big errors. There are no free lunches.

            How do we transfer our reservoir of tree measuring knowledge in ENTS to the beginners and those who become stuck on two or three types of measurements? The solution is to present lots of on-line problems to  expand the base of problem solvers that we can call upon. We need to expand the number of Ents who deal not only with tree girth, height, and crown spread, but also measurements like limb length, crown area, trunk volume, limb volume, and perhaps trunk form ratios that can be quickly applied to the more uniform trunk shapes to derive volumes and predict radius at specified heights.  

            Okay, Iíve made my sales pitch. Later today, I will attempt to jump start the process with an email devoted to   problem #1. I welcome comments from all interested parties on how to make this new project/mission work for us. 



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