Curve Basics


From the Latin curvus, a curve is a line (real or imaginary) that deviates from the straight direction without forming angles. This means that its direction varies gradually and constantly.

The concept is often used to name the curved section of a road, a highway, a car circuit or a railway. For example: “To get to the museum, you have to follow this street and, when you reach the curve to the right, travel another two hundred meters”, “The Ferrari driver got confused in the steepest curve of the circuit and ended up outside the competition”, “Mountain routes are quite dangerous as they have numerous curves”.

In these cases, especially when they are used to refer to the intersection between two streets in a city, it is understood that it is not a curve itself, since an angle is formed (or more than one, depending on the precision with which the which is observed). The more appropriate term for this concept is “corner”.

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There are various types of curves. Open curves are those whose endpoints do not meet; On roads, they are those that have little curvature and that vehicles can take without reducing their speed too much. The parabola and the hyperbola are examples of open curves in the field of mathematics.

Sharp curves, on the other hand, return to the starting point. On roads, sharp curves have great curvature and must be taken very slowly. Examples of this type of curves are circles and ellipses.

A curve can also be a line that graphically represents the magnitude of a phenomenon according to the values ​​that its variables take on. A precipitation curve can reflect the level of precipitation in a certain territory in a certain period of time. The X axis (horizontal) can show the different months, while the Y axis (vertical) can express rainfall in millimeters.

The learning curve, on the other hand, is a concept that serves to measure the success that is obtained throughout a learning period. It is usually graphed in the following way: the X axis shows the time that has elapsed from the beginning to a particular point, while the Y represents the number of correct answers made in that period.

In general, when a new task is undertaken, errors are very common, and they disappear over time, until the curve becomes a straight line. However, there is the possibility of obtaining random results, which is evidence of false learning, a serious retention problem or a great difficulty in recalling the learned concepts.

Economists rely on the learning curve concept to explain the growth in productivity and quality after making certain alterations to a process (such as personnel changes, acquisition of new tools or adoption of new methodologies).

In the case of the gaming industry, specifically video games, the learning curve is used to describe the difficulty that a product presents for the average player and the time it takes them to overcome the initial barriers, until they settle in and feel confident of being able to control it easily.

The steeper the curve, the more efficient the learning in a given period. Some of the factors that affect a student’s performance are as follows:

* the set of skills related to the subject that you are willing to learn and the previous knowledge you have;

* the methods used by teachers, or by the student himself (if he is self-taught);

* the context in which the learning takes place (both physical and mental issues).