How Do You Interpret “Learning Curve”?

I was stumbled on a product description page when I read this phrase:

The learning curve is short.

If above phrase seems normal for you, it’s not for me. I’m a bit puzzled when reading different usages of “learning curve” with different adjectives prefixing it. I think people must have gone with their own definitions and no single consensus of “learning curve” interpretation exists.

Since there is a word “curve” in the term, I think the interpretation is mathematical and there is correlation with math functions. We also have the word “learning”, hence it implies a process. Everbody knows that a process will yield output based on input taken. We can say then, a process will change a state into another state. Based on this basic constraints, we can draw the graph as the following:

Learning curve graphic

If you are familiar with digital system logic, you should have noted that everything works based on 2 states of logic, on and off, 0 and 1, or low and high. The transition for each state is named after  “transient time” which means the time needed to change from the state “off” to “on” and vice versa. By referring to this analogy, we can literally state that learning curve is a part of comprehension process which consists of three parts on the whole:

  • Part 1: state of  not understanding, when the knowledge is still not known
  • Part 2: the learning curve, a phase of grasping the knowledge during a certain time (T)
  • Part 3: state of understanding, when the knowledge is known and comprehended

Hence, when it doesn’t take a long time or much effort to understand a concept or knowledge, I will rewrite it using “learning curve” term as:

  • The learning curve is steep or
  •  The learning curve is fast

As for “learning curve is short”, I will scratch my head trying to figure out the basis of this term.

Interestingly,  Wikipedia entry explains different notions of “learning curve”. How about you?

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