Browser RAM Usage by Tabs Lesson
I’ve always wanted to do a math lesson that involved computer resources. I suppose it’s because I watch my students throw the computers around, hold them by the screens, and generally show a lack of understanding of how computer architecture works: “This thing is s-l-o-w” as four programs do their little start-up bounce in the dock simultaneously and youtube is loading two videos in the browser.
This lesson doesn’t directly solve that issue, but a little bit of experience mathematically modeling some system resources has to come with some tacit system understandings, right?
Here’s the 1st act. This comes from the Mythbusters guys via their (Discovery-unrelated?) blog, Tested.
Here’s the lesson: put these two graphs up and don’t talk. Seriously, shut up. Teachers talk too much. You’re mouthing things at me right now; stop it.
Let the kids stare for a good 45 second and start writing down questions.
I think it’s pretty obvious where this leads, but here are some investigations:
- Get out the ol’ Activity Monitor app and do the investigation. Is the memory usage linear vs # of tabs? Is it the slope you’d predict from the x = 1 and x = 40 points? Does it change behavior at some tipping point when you load a whole boat load vs. just a couple?
- Does it matter how resource-heavy the pages are? Do youtube tabs weigh more than nytimes tabs?
- What’s the deal with Chrome? (delicious, delicious threading)
I’m going to run this with my calculus kids too. I’m not sure what they’ll ask, but I’m toying around with stealing some ASU-modeling techniques.
For instance, be a total hardass about answers to the question, “What is measurable?” You’d be surprised what kids think they can reliably measure, which would result in accomplishing little.
In calculus this looks more like, “What rate can we measure?” More on that later (wheely trashcans and garden hoses; Yay!)