The lady has been at it for about five years now. If she did it the right way, she could have learned to learn, then learned to read and write, and then passed the exam, plus come out with other valuable skills. Doesn't this remind you of those college graduates that go through the motions, but when they sit down and are asked to do something on their own simply fail to even understand what they're asked? I remember back in college I would sometimes participate in study groups, and so often encounter students that relied simply on memorizing problem types and the ways to solve them without actually having any clue about what they were doing. It seemed more common with students hailing from asia, and surely had something to do with the way school and knowledge is treated there.
For her, learning how to learn is probably much more difficult than you think it is.
For example, the Rubiks Cube. I'm sure there are great ways to learn to solve this puzzle, but I learned using a very time consuming technique with a lot of failure. While I have a really good schema for book learning, I have a relatively poor schema for learning the optimal way to manipulate items in 3space, despite the fact that I live that space.
There is a big difference between actually solving the cube and learning how to 'solve' it using some technique someone else came up with.
Solving it means that you analyzed the workings of the cube, figured out a way to return it to its original state without access to some outside source of information on how to do it.
Screwdrivers probably shouldn't count as a 'solution' in this sense ;)
You mean like the fact she only started school at 15 and never finished it? We take things like literacy for granted, but they're actually quite difficult to acquire if you don't start young.
Which is not to say that I think her method was a good idea, just that there may not really have been other options.
Working smart is better than working hard (except, of course, when you need to work hard and smart). Imagine if instead of the current computerized mail sorting system we had thousands of post workers sitting there and sorting mail, diligently. Is that something to be applauded?
Is Korean really that much more efficient than English, or is that word a label?
The instructors started to teach her after 949 tries - 949 tries, of watching this poor woman fail! - then she did learn, and got it on the 11th try after that. Teaching her was frustrating to them, I think mainly because they weren't really teaching her about driving, but a subset of civil administration and technology concepts, such as "regulations" and "emergency light".
The tragedy is that she could not afford "Middle school", despite dreaming of it so painfully that taking the driving test daily became a joyous wish fulfillment of attending school... an attitude of which the stereotypical student is too invisibly wealthy to properly conceive.
> Is Korean really that much more efficient than English, or is that word a label?
No, it's a 사자성어 (sajasongoh), or 4 character idiom. They originally come from Chinese, in which they're called chéngyǔ (成语 or 成語, in simplified and traditional characters, respectively), meaning "set phrase", and also exist in Japanese, in which they're called 四字熟語 (yojijukugo, literally "four character Chinese idiom").
Because of their origin in classical Chinese and their brevity, they're impossible to understand unless they're explained to you. In Asian countries, memorizing/understanding these proverbs is a big part of schooling.
I don't know the details of this particular sajasongoh, but I'm guessing that it either comes from classical Chinese or is a modified version of one that does. Modifying these proverbs to fit a particular situation is a common form of wordplay in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. For example, the Chosun Ilbo (a big Korean newspaper) loves doing this in their headlines.
It's funny that the word 사자성어 (meaning: 4-character idiom) is itself a 4-character idiom. East Asians like 4-character groups so much, they even read numbers in groups of 4 digits. For example, 1,234,567,890 would be read 12 억 3456 만 7890.
Well, if that counts as "round" then I have to remind you that any integer can be written as a unique sum of various powers of two (or ten, or eight, or ...).
That said, being able to quickly convert an arbitrary number into that form has proven useful more than a few times. But I admit that I never realized that playing a very old, free game called "Binary Blitz" would turn out to be quite so useful to me.
For fun, see if you can write a bijection between the integers and the "consecutive ones". Hint: realize that a "consecutive power of 2" number can be split into two numbers: a number of consecutive ones greater than zero followed by a number of consecutive zeroes (you can have zero of these), then think about diagonalization.
That said, I suppose you could define some sort of "density" of numbers with consecutive ones in a fixed-size range. Say that you want to know how many of them are between 0 and 2^x (i.e. how many such numbers are x bits long). Well, you get sum(1..x-1) different consecutive numbers (for 2^8, there are 7 ways to have a pair of ones, 6 ways to have 3 consecutive ones, as you can see by imagining sliding the pair or triplet: 11100000, 01110000, 00111000, ... 00000111) and there are 2^x possibilities total.
Add x-1 + x-2 + ... + 2 + 1 to itself backwards and you get:
(x-1 + 1) + (x-2 + 2) + ... where there are x-1 terms in the series, which allows us to rewrite it as x * (x-1). This is double the original sum (because we added it to itself), so divide it by two and we've shown that sum(1..x-1) == (x^2 - x)/2. Now, divide that by 2^x and simplify to get D(x) = (x^2 - x)/2^(x+1) for the fraction of x-bit numbers that are consecutive powers of two.
It doesn't take much analysis to see that it is decreasing when x grows after increasing initially:
Density of consecutive ones in 1-bit numbers = 0
Density of consecutive ones in 2-bit numbers = 0.25
Density of consecutive ones in 3-bit numbers = 0.375
Density of consecutive ones in 4-bit numbers = 0.375
Density of consecutive ones in 5-bit numbers = 0.3125
Density of consecutive ones in 6-bit numbers = 0.234375
Density of consecutive ones in 7-bit numbers = 0.1640625
Density of consecutive ones in 8-bit numbers = 0.109375
In short, "much rarer" depends on how big a number we're dealing with and the measure won't work for infinitely large numbers, because there are a countably infinite number of consecutive-power numbers, so they can be put into 1-to-1 correspondence with the integers, even though our D(x) decreases.
TL;DR: Math is crazy and relies on precise definitions. Be wary of intuition.
Clearly her method was not optimal but it... eventually worked for her. Just goes to show that perseverance pays off even when starting from absolute zero.
Good for Cha Sa-soon!
In early August, Hyundai presented Ms. Cha with a $16,800 car.
Ms. Cha, whose name, coincidentally enough, is Korean for “vehicle,” now also appears on a prime-time television commercial for Hyundai.
She passed the driving test in 4 tries which is probably like the average american teenager these days.
At $5 a pop though, she could have hired some personal tutors.
"What she was essentially doing while studying alone was memorizing as many questions — with their answers — as possible without always knowing what they were all about."
It's surprising that she didn't end up remembering by heart all possible test answers by then. It's also sad because, if she had asked an instructor politely to explain one complex traffic word for her each day, she would have reached the understanding she needed to pass the test far sooner. Then again, it sounds like she treated it like a hobby. If she was having fun, who's to stop her?
I used to play Scrabble a ton and adopted a more verbal, etymological style that, I'd assumed, would be more common amongst native English speakers (but maybe not!)
Surely she is fairly indicative of a rural inhabitant? Why is the test so inaccessible, and how many others are there like her?
The test should ensure that a driver can read read and understand street signs both symbolic and textual ones and respond correctly ... oh yeah, and drive the relevant vehicle. They should also be able to service the car sufficiently to keep it safe - pump tyres, check fluids, know mostly when it needs attention from a mechanic.
Not everyone can do all these things hence the test appears "inaccessible".
I see three possibilities. If these words are as normal in Korean as they are in English, then she failed to learn them because (possibility 1) she was so sheltered she actually had no exposure to basic knowledge required of any competent driver or (possibility 2) she has an intellectual disability that prevents her from learning new words and concepts without a lot of help. In these two cases, you can't blame the test.
Possibility three is that the words for used on the test are government legalese that is never used in real life, and she did not understand that learning what they meant was a better strategy than trying to memorize entire sentences from the driving manual. In this case the test is partly at fault, but an intellectual disability would probably still be involved. (Though perhaps you could also blame educational traditions that stress rote learning and glorify hard work as a sufficient solution for any problem.)
I guess all three of these scenarios require her to have some kind of intellectual disability, because even in the first scenario, a normal person could learn everything she needed from the test-prep books. Also, I doubt anyone would celebrate her persistence if it was a story of a person with normal intelligence who threw away so much time and money retaking a test she should have known she wasn't prepared to take again. It would be perverse or at best eccentric, not inspiring.
(1) It's graded on a simple "percentage right" basis, so 24/40 questions necessary right to pass, (2) 4 options for each question
Her score on an individual test is a random variable X following a binomial distribution with 40 trials and chance of 0.25 for each trial. Her chance of passing by guessing randomly, P(X >= 24), is an infinitesimally small 2.826E-6.
The probability that she fails all of the 960 tests, assuming independence of tests, is (1-p)^960. So the probability that she will pass at least one test is:
1 - (1 - p)^960
However, under the above assumptions, she could practically guarantee her success by combining this guessing strategy with a simple test-taking strategy like eliminating 1 or 2 obviously wrong answers per question, or just remembering the answers to several of the same questions that are probably being recycled from test to test.
I assumed this is how she did it, but assuming all questions are recycled, 4 options in 40 questions, perfect memory, no knowledge, and a naïve strategy, she should have passed in just 29 tries (1.75 retries per question, 10 initially right, 24 needed). Mastermind isn't that hard a game. So clearly, some assumptions are wrong.
Interesting question is that now that she got 60/100 does she understand things much better than 3 years ago, some form of understanding would spike the scores quickly, while the slow improvement can only seem to be the result of slightly better memorisation of question->answer each time without much better understanding.
On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes... anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
That she took the test 960 times is interesting to know, but hardly gratifying.
In her world, she joined indeed.
But her fame from the story is priceless.
Forgive me for being blunt, but this is an incredibly egotistical and snobbish statement to make.