Sunday, September 23, 2007

Definitions and Examples

So on Friday Nathan asked us to explain the difference between an example and a definition. This question really stuck with me. It seems so simple, yet, when I really sat down and tried to think about it, I found myself struggling.

As a class we seemed to come to a consensus that a definition is a universal truth that describes all scenarios while an example relates to one case. I agree with this statement but I still feel like it might be a little vague. I have been sitting here thinking about it and I want to add to what we have already come up with. I believe that a definition is used to provide everyone with a general picture or understanding of something. Once this general knowledge has been acquired, examples are necessary to elaborate and clarify any remaining questions.

After coming to this conclusion, I am left with another question. Must definitions be presented before examples to provide the best explanation? Or is it possible to gather enough information from an assortment of examples to lead one to a sufficient definition? Which is better? Which is faster? Are there certain situations in which one way is better than the other? All of these questions lead me to believe that I still do not fully comprehend the difference between a definition and an example.

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