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Q: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" ( Answered,   5 Comments )
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 Subject: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference Asked by: dang-ga List Price: \$10.00 Posted: 05 Jun 2003 23:28 PDT Expires: 05 Jul 2003 23:28 PDT Question ID: 213810
 ```My roomates and I just finished a three-hour conversation about the meaning of the term 'steep learning curve.' Although the issue is still unresolved (despite several Google searches), we have boiled down the root of our problem into three precise questions: 1) Does the term 'learning curve' apply to people or activities? 2) What is the opposite of a 'steep learning curve' ? And the ultimate question: 3) What does it mean to have a 'steep learning curve'? Assuming this question is answered clearly, and with a minumum of ambivalence, I'd place a bid of \$10 on these questions. Thank You Mr. Google, Dan Greenblatt Matt Morriss Venu Nemani```
 Subject: Re: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" Answered By: techtor-ga on 06 Jun 2003 10:03 PDT
 ```You have a very interesting question here. I volunteer to stand in for ‘Mr. Google’ and answer your questions, most of which I’ll answer from the top of my head. Let me answer question number 3 first since that is the basic one. Based on the resources I have found on the Internet, what I can say is that a ‘steep learning curve’ is the capability to learn something very easily or quickly. Learning curve means how long a person learns something. The idea is that you have a line graph. The horizontal axis stands for time, and the vertical axis stands for the progress in learning, so the higher the line goes, the more the person has learned. A steep curve means that the person learned more in the least time, so imagine the graph’s line going steeply upward from the zero corner. Since learning doesn’t always have a steady pace, the line often appears as a curve. “Learning Curve” is basically a psychology term, so you can read about it first in psychology books. On your second question, I guess the opposite of the steep learning curve would be the shallow learning curve. This means that a person learns slowly. Imagine the line on the graph rising very slowly. The “Learning Curve” is normally applied to people, yes. You can say “Jean has a steeper learning curve in Flight Simulator than Jenny,” so this means Jean can learn to use Flight Simulator faster than Jenny can. But it can also be applied to activities and things to be learned, such as learning to use a computer program. For example, if you ask “Does this program have a steep learning curve?”, and a friend answers, “No,” it means that the program is easy to learn. Websites found: Steep Learning Curve - From Topica, Inc. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/library/Grammar/Learn-curve.html INSIDE Idaho Definition Engine - Definition of “Learning Curve” http://inside.uidaho.edu/tutorial/gis/engine.asp?term=learning_curve The Birth of an Open Source (Free) Cobol Compiler - with a definition of Learning Curve http://objectz.com/columnists/howard&tom/ Myth: ODBMSs have a steep learning curve http://www.service-architecture.com/object-oriented-databases/articles/myth_odbms_have_a_steep_learning_curve.html - Here’s an example of “learning curve” applied to a non-person. The article tries to prove that ODBMs are easy to learn. Google search terms: steep learning curve "learning curve" definition I hope this has been a most helpful answer. If you have any problem with it, do please post a Request for Clarification and I shall respond. Thank you.```
 Subject: Re: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" From: oxymoronpointer-ga on 26 Jun 2003 16:57 PDT
 ```This is a typical case of oxymoronism -- tector-ga seems to contradict himself . look what he says : " a ‘steep learning curve’ is the capability to learn something very easily or quickly " and then in the last paragraph, he says : " if you ask “Does this program have a steep learning curve?”, and a friend answers, “No,” it means that the program is easy to learn " effectviely saying these 2 things : steep learning curve ==> ease in learning not a steep learing curve ==> ease in learning the researcher is totallly confused, or has misquoted something. i believe , steep learnig curve means that a "concept / activity " will require more amount of time to understand ( grasp ) and yes it it referred to both person and activity ( at least the researcher got this one right ... great ) peace ...```
 Subject: Re: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" From: dang-ga on 26 Jun 2003 18:00 PDT
 ```So after much thinking, I can see how the term could go either way. I've always taken it to mean that a task that has a steep learning curve is difficult to learn,and this is the way I've always heard it used, but I guess it all depends on how you draw the graph. If the x-axis is 'time', and the y-axis is 'amount learned,' then | | _______ | | | _/ | / | _/ | __/ | _/ | __/ | / | __/ | | | _____/ | | -------------------- -------------------- A B (excuse my ASCII) both graphs could be considered steep at parts, although one is concave and the other is convex -- they both are 'steep' learning curves graph A would represent learning something slowly, where graph B would represent learning something quickly```
 Subject: Re: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" From: techtor-ga on 27 Jun 2003 05:43 PDT
 ```Ah, Oxymoronpointer has a point, I guess my "no" in that part of the answer they indicated should have been "yes", but I'm glad the customer got my message. Thank you.```
 Subject: Re: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" From: techtor-ga on 27 Jun 2003 05:44 PDT
 ```Oh yes, I forgot to comment on Dang's charts. Yes, Chart B does show a steep learning curve. :)```
 Subject: Re: The Meaning of "Steep Learning Curve" From: oxymoronpointer-ga on 27 Jun 2003 09:16 PDT
 ```my friend tector-ga , had previously erred with a typo , now he has got it right. this article provides a good insight Steep Learning Curve - From Topica, Inc. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/library/Grammar/Learn-curve.html but since this term is widely misunderstood, and used in the context with a contrary meaning , it will be difficult to use this phrase in commonplace without the fear of being grossly misquoted. ( and especially since we are educated now ......) ignorance is bliss .................... sometimes -- OxymoronPointer aka jekkin shah or better still , we can always```