Friday, March 16, 2007

Oscillations again?

A begin this post with a rather long sigh. Not because I don't want to be here writing it, but because of the darn title! I was going to write a really lame phrase about something to do with maths and myself, but I can't seem to put it into words.

Since today is a Friday, you've probably all been expecting the long post (or waiting eagerly, to make me feel better!), so I won't be dissapointing you. Commuting has it benifits, but things are no longer in your hands. Thats the major thing about it which I don't like. When I went to college I knew that I could get to college within a certain time range. However, with university you can never be sure of which delay I'll be facing on which day- the bus might come late etc etc. That's why I always aim to get there slightly earlier so I'm prepared for anything that might happen.

Today I was going to go in early because of Matlab (which I'm sick of!). I had a 10am lecture, so thought that getting into uni for 9:15 would give me about half and hour to get bits done. You've probably already guessed what happpened (well there had to be a reason for me to mention delays!). Yes, there was a problem. I had to think on the spot, and I probably made the wrong decision, but in the end I got into Manchester at 9:45pm. I was extremely annoyed at this since my ickle plan was no longer doable. I rushed to the Schuster Building, and I must confess, today I DID take the 50 bus from the bottom of Upper Brook Street to the top! I would never have made it in time otherwise, and having a bus pass has it's uses. (note, I wouldn't have waited for it, but it seemed like the powers that be were feeling sorry for me today, so the bus happened to be there.)

A frustrated beans went to the calculus lecture. However, upon arriving there I saw no lecturer present. They normally are always there 10 minutes before the start, so I was slightly worried and maybe a little hopeful. (2hr lecture cancelled => Matlab=> completing coursework!) This little bit of hope never really stood a chance. Lecturers never miss lectures. Never. So inevitably Dr H made an appearance.

Before I continue, I have to say that anything nice I may have previously said about mechanics has been lies. I've been a bad person. I don't normally lie, but saying that I would give mechanics a chance just isn't possible anymore. Boy was I nodding like mad, when Dr H said something along the lines of some work on the board looking like 'a load of crap!' I'm not going to draw a diagram of the oscillating nature of today, however my morning wasn't too great. The lights in the lecture theatre were on dim, and that really didn't help. If I had a tin full of beans, I may have actually gone to the control panel at the front and put them on full or asked the lecturer to put them on during the 10 minute break, but I didn't. (You see I've played around with these gadgets before!). The lights didn't set the right tone for my head. But no matter what, after the two hours of calculus I found myself very frustrated.

Mechanics is evil. Full stop. However I know what problem I seem to be having. I'm not being taught mechanics for the first time, so some of the things that I learnt today seemed to 'clash' with what I've been taught before. Not clash, as in that they contradict each other, but I'm left feeling confused. I'm going to hunt my college file down and see if I can make sense of it. I felt that all I did during the second lecture was write. I really got lost in the maths so to speak! And would you believe it, Dr Heil's example sheet came to haunt us today! Ahhhhh.

That's enough moaning about mechanics. The next lecture was Linear Algebra. Need I say more? My mood was slowly on the rise. I had a dull ache in my stomach (it wanted food :( ) but Ralph was in a good mood today (I guess), so my stomach was patient! He's going to New York in the Easter holidays, and well I guess some can afford them luxuries! (although he's going to make sure his wallet is padlocked!). It was another fun lecture, and I think having the lights on full really did make a difference. Someone else received my well done, but I understood the plan! :D We're going to start a different topic on Tuesday, so Prof. S recapped Fields. I vaguely remember bits from the first semester about them, but the main thing that sprung to mind about the first semester was Abelian groups! Weird, since I've forgotten exactly what they are.

Before I continue, I must apologise for the disjointness of this post. I wasn't particularly pleased when I myself made the oscillating connection of my Fridays, which seems to have had a negative impact on things.

Anyway, after the Linear Algebra lecture we had an hour for lunch before the sequence and series lecture. This was spent doing Matlab (and completing my Linear Algebra homework!). If I don't write in proper sentences my supervisor writes this all over my work. I know that it's a good practise and by doing this I've generally understood my work better later on. But if you have three questions of the same nature, you can't help but be lazy! (sorry supervisor). I did the first bit of the last question on Matlab and after some lunch, my mood was still slowly climbing upwards.

It didn't climb for long but it suddenly changed. All I'm going to say is this: started at 10 past 2, finished at twenty too 3. The number of people present from yesterday decreased as well. I could try and be funny in the most non-funny way and say that the sequence of people attending this lecture, is a null sequence (i.e. it converges to 0), but at his moment in time I'm not laughing. Nor was I throughout the lecture. Nor was I when it ended early again. (I could see that I wasn't the only one who was not amused). The mornings frustrations came roaring back - uncontrollable. I knew that I was going to have a difficult time taming them.

Jake wanted to get some coffee before the example class so he and Milo headed to the shop. I had to hand in the Linear Algebra work so I told them that I'd catch up with them in the example class. I hadn't really intended to walk up the stairs in the mss building today, since my bag was pretty heavy today (5.5Kg). However, once I was there I realised the only way to tame my inner demons was to walk the stairs. It was painful, but I managed it. And obviously this diverted my attention from the recent lecture, and allowed me to cool down slightly. I didn't have the legs to run back down them stairs, so instead took the lift. (which seemed the most natural option of course!).

The example class was productive as always, and honestly I'm so grateful towards it! I just can't describe how much the example class actually helps me (I think this is a lot down to the staff present)! Today I had naively thought that Dr. C was not feeling too great (he had the 'fluey' voice), so I was being on my best behaviour (well trying to anyway!). But later on I realised how foolish I had been! I've once again fallen behind in sequence and series, and not spent much time on it. The coursework and other factors have influenced this, but I had still managed to do some of the problems and had a list of my problems.

It was in the example class that I realised that I couldn't read! I had to prove that rt(n) is not null and I had done it in a way that wasn't correct (obviously). So I started working through it with Dr C. Now I followed what was being said, until we got to the 'contradicting' bit. I can't always seem to think on the spot. Dr C asked me to give a counter-example. My mind went blank- 'Erm, it could be this.. hahaha I don't know, wait let me re-write it. Clue please? Haha, I'm so stupid...'. You get the gist. I was 'stumped'. However slowly does it and we were getting somewhere. He then proceeded by asking me what happens if k=100? I did the same routine as above, and after a long while we got somewhere again. So then I was asked for the general counter-example. I said n>k (after a long time!). Dr C then asked me to read what I had written down. I read it- n<= k^2 for all n>=1. He then asked me for the counter example, I again said n>k. He once again asked to me read what I'd written.... etc

This happened for quite a while, and I must say I don't know how Dr C managed to control himself (he was probably finding it entertaining, so that's a relief!). I wasn't blimmin reading what I'd written down! His relief was evident after I finally spluttered that n>k^2 is the counter example. I must thank him for his patience, because that wasn't the only thing that bugged me today. I find that the 'small' (capital epsilon ;) ) things seem to be big hurdles for me. Not just in the case of this proof (blaming Friday for that!), but general stuff in maths. For example, there was another question which you could call trivial, that I found difficult and it's still working it's way around my brain/vacuum.

I was going to say that Dr C's coolness diverges without a bound (that's a good thing right?) and I'll really need another post to expand on that. But maybe I don't have to. I was my normal dopey self today, and after the 'k' incident the people in the room noticed my vulnerability. I think I should erm stop this North-South business, but its oh so fun! It seemed that everyone had a lot of fun at my expense today, Dr C especially! I could lie and say that I let them all have their laughs, but truth be told today I was found wanting. It was all good natured obviously. Why would they prefer not to have me at the example class?!! :p. Yes, the example classes always seem to be like this and that's the way I like it. It's friendly banter and sometimes you come out on top and other times you don't. My normal responses and awareness were lacking today. But this is ok, even though I didn't expect a member of staff to take advantage of this! It just means that I'm going to plot my revenge, with my 500 cats besides me!

Yes, I've already got a plan in mind and well I hope it doesn't turn out like the lift experiment! (That's all I'm saying on this matter for the time being, don't want to embarrass myself later!)

After the example guess what did we decide to do? It's obvious. It's Matlab. (oh btw it was red nose day today, and I forgot to take my red nose with me! It seems like this wasn't obvious :D Although quite a few people were wearing red, it didn't feel like red nose day). So we all went to the 'n' floor in the lift. Dr C pressed O, the to be Dr A pressed Q and we pressed n. If you were waiting for the lift at 4ish in the mss building then let me say this- I didn't press the buttons of the floors below us after we'd come up them! Well maybe my hand slipped, oh wait I think I remember falling against the panel, but you know me- I would never think of doing that deliberately! Actually come to think of it, Dr C was standing by the panel, and whilst he was trying to stop me, he might have been pressing them himself! Ooh, what do we have here. Tut tut, staff should know better. (OK OK, it was me, he did try to stop me so I only pressed the buttons till the J floor I think. Hmpf!)

To be honest, I'm only really going on about the example class because I don't really want to talk about Matlab. Matlab sucks the happiness out of you like dementors, or the black riders in the LOTR! I didn't want to depress you again with the problems I faced with the cursed computer software, so decided to ramble about the good time I had in the example class. The problem with Matlab or this coursework is, that you never really know where you stand. I managed to complete Q4 (finally) however the result I've obtained is in no way similar to the one in question 3. (question 3 is meant to give me approximates and question 4 the actual values). This was depressing. But as always on Friday's I went home in a good mood. The oscillations became constant. We have to hand the coursework in on Monday at 4pm, so I guess I'll have to complete it after Monday's lecture.

Once again like last Friday, I'm going to go and make my to do list. The previous one actually did help. I've only got two liner algebra lecture notes to copy up woohooo. I must also thank you if you've actually managed to read this post to the end. (I wrote half of it before food time, and I got carried away when I returned afterwards.) Hope you guys had a matlab-less week!


egm said...

That's an eventful day you had there. I see you are as big of a LOTR fan as I am, having twice made reference to it on your blog. Tolkien worked out a masterpiece there.

I haven't used MATLAB since I left school. Some of the guys at work use it for some signal processing work, but I don't do any of that, so there's been no need for it. There's Octave and Scilab which are free and are like Matlab that I am interested in checking out. Incidentally, I once interviewed with MathWorks, the makers of MATLAB, so maybe if I accepted that job I could have been your MATLAB answer guy!

I totally see where you are coming from on patient professors. I could never be one. Something that was so obvious to me but not to the person I am instructing would aggravate me so much that I'd probably shout at them. But you do need to have a very patient personality so as not to lose your poise! Good thing he was patient enough with you till you understood what he was trying to explain.

Jake said...

Hope you guys had a matlab-less week!

Very nearly...we have had a computing course all year in which we covered Maple, Matlab and then R(probability and stats package). We had the final test last week so I was glad it was all over but when doing my probability coursework this evening; it turned out I needed to make a calculation that would have taken absolutely ages by hand so in the end I managed to get R to do it (after some refamiliarisation with the commands). Believe me; if you had done the R part of our computer course; you would have been begging for Matlab!

By the way, an abelian group is just a commutative group i.e. a group whose binary operation is commutative. They are also the subject of a very common maths joke:

Q. What is purple and commutative?
A. An abelian grape.

beans said...

LOTR is amazing, I'm tempted to rename the Tweenies now into the characters from LOTR! (Hmmm, that sounds like a good plan!) The book was great, and I liked the movies too. (Shame Tom Bombadil didn't make an appearance in them).

Grrr, you're not supposed to tell me you interviewed with them! Talk about raising someone's hopes up! Matlab is actually pretty useful, but I've not used it long enough to know it inside out. I definitely know that I won't be choosing any numerical analysis modules! (fingers crossed). So Matlabs been around for a while then!

I guess patience comes with experience, but seriously I could tell he was trying his hardest to not to pull his hair out! I just can't get the simple things, I don't know why! (He's probably had previous students like me, so probably was thinking here we go again). But he's cool. I like the fact that he never says there's only one way of doing things, and explains things in different ways sometimes. Like makes new examples, or does the proofs so I can understand them. Cool customer.

I think I'm a bit like you as well. I was helping my little sister with her timetables, and she's very lazy. I really got agitated and told her to go learn them first then do the questions! Thankfully not shouting at her (otherwise I would have been in trouble!)

beans said...


You see I wouldn't mind if we had used Matlab and other packages more! In my desperation I checked mathematica and one other package out, but if I thought Matlab was difficult, they were out my league! I think I'm glad that I didn't do that part of your computer course- begging for Matlab doesn't sound too great!!

Thanks, and I think I'm remembering being told that it was named after that dude, but we don't use a capital 'a' for it.

(I am allowed laughing at that joke, right? :D lol!)

Jake said...

Thanks, and I think I'm remembering being told that it was named after that dude, but we don't use a capital 'a' for it.

Yep, and here's another joke:

Q. Why didn't Newton prove the impossibility of solving the quintic by radicals?

A. Because he wasn't Abel.

I also remember reading somewhere about a mnemonic for remembering the criteria of an an abelian group:

CAIN and Abel:

Although it does seem a bit redundant as it is only the first that seperates the abelian from non-abelian the rest just being standard group axioms. It must have been a fairly slow news day in the mnemonic writing dept.

beans said...

I hadn't heard of that one before :D

Actually I'm glad that you pointed that out to me! I seem to have problems remembering stuff like this and I don't think I'll be forgetting this (havine read the book!).

Lol, I guess they felt they weren't challenged enough!

beans said...

'Niels Henrik Abel: 1802-1829: Considered Norway's greatest (probably only famous) mathematician. If you do algebra, abelian groups are named after him.'

Jake said...

If you do algebra, abelian groups are named after him.

Does that mean if you don't do algebra you would call (Z/3Z,+) Steve or Mary or something?


beans said...

Hmmm, well I suppose you could! You could call it whatever you want, like Humpty Dumpty said :D (That is if you don't do Algebra, but if you did couldn't we call it something else? :p )

(I copied and pasted that from the site which I posted earlier today! )

Jake said...

Oh, I know, I was joking about the fact that it said 'if you do algebra, abelian groups are named after him' whereas the intended meaning was more likely 'if you do algebra you are likely to know that abelian groups are named after him'

i.e. abelian groups are thus termed irrespective of whether one does or doesn't study algebra.

I thought it was a funny spoof; I had previously seen another one from the same site that was also quite good:

beans said...

:o I seemed to have missed the smiley at the bottom!

Yeah it was pretty funny, hence my shocking good morning :D ;)

I also found the hacker one funny! What about if it was someone's daughter? And how true is this? (it had me worried!)

'Excessive time spent on the computer, communicating with his fellow hackers may cause temporary damage to the eyes and brain, from the electromagnetic radiation. This will cause his marks to slip dramatically, particularly in difficult subjects such as Math, and Chemistry. In extreme cases, over-exposure to computer radiation can cause schizophrenia, meningitis and other psychological diseases. Also, the reduction in exercise may cause him to lose muscle mass, and even to start gaining weight. For the sake of your child's mental and physical health, you must put a stop to his hacking, and limit his computer time drastically.'

I can vouch for the eyes, but brain?