Thank you for your assessment. As you can imagine,
it is not at all what I'd hoped to hear. In fact,
it is so completely at odds with what I thought I was
doing in writing the article that I'm going
to have go back through the thing and try to figure out
what it was that you found so objectionable.
Perhaps, if I clarify what I was trying to do,
someone can offer suggestions for improvement.
I find your description of the article as "elitist"
particularly troubling since I tried very hard
to stay clear of any advanced mathematics. For
example, in the first article (which describes a
robot's path following an arc of a circle), I stuck
strictly to high school trigonmetry. In fact, it's
a lot quicker to obtain the same results using
calculus, but I wanted to keep the material
accessible to high school students. Even then,
there were places where I worried that I was giving
too much explanation, not too little. If you look
at equation 4, you'll see that I actually wrote out
most of the steps in the algebra, showing where
the cosines cancelled and so forth... these are steps
that are almost always left out in textbooks (the
assumption being that the teacher or professor can
always fill in the details). Since my
readers would be mostly on their own, I felt it
important for me to show the development in detail,
even at the risk of appearing pedantic.
And this was my approach throughout both articles.
In the second article, which used calculus, I was
careful to stick to first-semester stuff. When I took
calculus, I was always losing 5-points per problem
when I solved an indefinite integral and forgot
to write down the integration constant. At first that
annoyed me because I assumed that writing down
the constant was just a pro-forma exercise.
Later, I realized that it was important because that
constant was the key to linking the calc to real-world
applications. In writing my article, I wanted to give
inexperienced readers a hint about what was going on
so that, perhaps, they could avoid my rather clueless
experiences in freshman calc. So in the second article,
when I talk about applying "initial conditions" (which
I put in italics for emphasis), I put a lot of work
into supplying a context for the term. To someone who's
taken differential equations, of course, the term is
a wonderful shorthand for all sorts of ideas that
might take a whole semester to sink in. Since I figured
that some of my readers would not yet have
that experience, I wanted to give them what they
needed to use the concepts themselves.
So, I guess I have to ask you what was the basis
for you complaint. The tone? The explanations?
Awkward mathematics? I'm sure there are ways to
improve the math. If there are gaps in the explanations,
I'll be happy to try to fill them in. And as far
as the tone... well, it is a bit dry, mannered,
and plodding, but then again, so am I. We all
have our crosses to bear.
The thing that should be clear by now is that
I didn't just churn out an academic paper, but
thought very hard about what my readers would
need to be successful with the techniques I presented.
Franky, I do not believe that I failed. Clearly,
you feel otherwise. When I wrote the article,
my thought was that I was building a bridge from
some elementary theory to more advanced applications.
Now I find that rather than building bridges,
I am burning a few. So, then, what's the problem?
Tell me and I'll fix it.