Monday, April 30, 2007

Strictly Increasing

Yes the reason behind this post is quite 'sad' actually. I didn't really intend to post anything, since today has been difficult in more than one ways! However to make the posts per month a 'strictly' increasing function i.e., I posted this. I looked to the definition of my age which prompted me to add three dots after the a_n. But alas, I thought to myself what if once my age stays the same and it doesn't go to the next number in the cycle? Possible of course, hence the sequence of posts per months is a finite sequence. (Fortunately for some!)

Let's not worry ourselves (myself) over matters like that- they make ones head hurt. One could also argue that I could manipulate the post dates so that forever I have a strictly increasing function, but where's the fun in that. *coughs* I mean, you don't want to be reading the same posts over and over again do you? (If you do, just drop me an email! ;) ).

It's the last day of April today and funnily enough I'm sensing the bubble closing in. We have a coursework to do. I'm tempted to type %$^&*()P^&*%$^^! Oops I just have. I'm not too pleased about this coursework since it's proving to be a distraction - I mean until I get it out of the way it'll pester me. The best thing to do is to get it out of the way of course, but that's easier said than done.

After my 'early' morning today, I for a second put the sun shining down to mechanics! Hah- like that's ever going to happen. But I confess- whilst talking to myself in the usual way to my office, and having a close call when crossing the road, I nearly put my lucky gettaway to mechanics. I mean I was talking and no one was looking at me strangely. OK maybe one guy did look at me with raised eyebrows, but that's because he's never had anyone smile to him on a Monday morning! Yep, you got it- there was no bloody hands, or bags in peoples faces today. I was quite well behaved. My supervision went quite well actually, and I'll post the results of it in the comments to my post on kernels etc. (I had a 'get in there moment' for a second you see-woohoo!). I really like my supervisor. The thing is I have an idea, maybe a slight one and then the supervisor puts all the pieces of the jigsaw together in my head. I have been continuously told to not introduce variables from any where i.e. indicate where they're from. So today as my supervisor wrote the constants a and c I thought that maybe no one else would find it funny if I asked where they're from. :D *coughs again!*

My new motto is: CONSISTENCY! (see the lecturers do give good advice, that is in response to an argument I had with someone).

Is it bad that a post which was meant to be shortish has been dragged out? Well the mechanics lecture was pretty interesting today. I do wish that I was more awake, since I'm having difficulty remember bits of it. It was about frameworks and the angular 'frequency'/rotations of things. You see when the reference was made to hurricanes etc I was wide awake- I mean that's what I like about mechanics, how it helps answer physical phenomenon. The word centrifugal rang a bell, however this bell was biological. (we did centrifuging of cells in Biology AS- the experiment was pretty cool). Now I have been given permission to smack people over the top of the head by the lecturer (cool or what!) but for what reason I can't remember! It's something to do with the bath plug in England and pulling it in say Australia at the same time. Hmmm. No sense in worrying over that, that hurts too much as well. It was a good lecture.

There was this woman who I saw whilst commuting, and for some reason I wanted to make sure she reached home safely. I mean she had a heavy bag and I'm glad she didn't carry it! I saw her to the lift, but alas I lost her then. (I did keep looking over my shoulders, don't know why, but she was a nice enough lady. :) ) Note: I'm not a proper qualified stalker yet- that takes a further three years of training!

Lots of things are looming upon me, however at this moment it is sleep. My plan: sleep early and so wake up early in the morning. That makes sense since I seem to work best before sunrise, and this is a habit which I've acquired over time. (Since secondary school). Good night. :)

Beans equalises!

The famous quote by JF Kennedy springs to mind, well it's been changed slightly:

And so, my fellow readers, ask not what this blog can do for beans; ask what beans can do for this blog.

OK that was lame, but here's 'the original' (pfft) if you're interested. (No reason why you should be, I mean mine's pretty cool right?) Well if you're still shaking your head at that 'quote', then please don't look at the time of this post. One could ask what the heck I'm doing awake at this time, and equally why the heck am I posting!

However don't worry, I have a good reason for both, so enough of that head shaking. (Note: since it is way before my normal waking up time, I can be forgiven for being more disjoint than normal I hope!) I hadn't originally seen myself sitting here and posting. I mean I didn't just have a 'dream' about posting right now and so didn't wake up to 'fulfill' my dream, in case you're still scratching your head. (It'd have been coolish if so, then maybe I can claim to have at least accomplished one of my dreams. :D ) So I awoke. Surprisingly awake, if I may say so myself. I mean it's been a while since I've woken up and properly been awake straight away. I'm not a caffeine junky (coffee=not nice) but I've been sluggish this past week, which I'll put down to 'stress'. (We all need something to blame).

So I'm awake as one can be and my desk seems to be glowing in an unearthly like light. It's my mechanics homework calling out to me! Wow- it actually did feel like one of them freaky dreams, which you can never tell if it's real! (the light was the lamp BTW! I'm not seeing things just yet.) I sit on the chair- roll my sleeves up and get a fresh paper. Then I look over the first bit of question one and once again deduce the same equation of motion (thankfully).

The gears in my head are slowly changing. I switch over to the lane in the right to overtake part i. But alas, it's the next part which causes me to once again check my speed and stop accelerating. I look at my 'beautiful' diagram, and complain to it that why can something as beautiful as a laptop/bean falling down a building cause me such great pain. Now if this was actually my dream- which I'm not so sure about anymore- the picture would have replied: 'Look beyond the 'beauty' beans and stop being a dumbo! This is what you're meant to do....'. Any wild guesses as to what happens next?

I'm telling you this is darn spooky- kids don't read on! I mean it must have spoken to me, there is not other logical explanation as to why I then managed to 'see' what to do! (Any ideas?)

The equation of motion which I had was:
What I'd stupidly done was called the distance at the top of my window as x and the time at that distance as zero. Hence the distance after 1m was x+1 and t=0.05. This I realise is wrong, because the equation of motion would then be different (since I deduced it when t=0 and x=0 - the initial conditions which I'd just contradicted). I knew that I had to consider two things, but what they were was the issue.

So in this moment of madness (as some may call it) when my paper spoke to me, I quickly altered my diagram to what it should say. At time t, the distance was x and at that time t+0.05 the distance was x+1! Now I was in business. Why is it that when you feel that you're doing the right thing, you suddenly start accelerating again? I mean I did slow myself down again just in case I came to a grinding crash again, but the adrenaline rush had kicked in (i.e. slowing down was difficult). Believe it or not this is all on an empty stomach, which is now complaining!

Thanks to this moment of 'madness' I now had two equations:

Eliminating the x's gave me a time. The time then gave me the distance, which then gave me the right answer :D (Well after once again drawing for the 'fun of it', the ten floors below me!) If you checked the question sheet out you would have probably noticed that there were answers on the last page. I don't deliberately look at them until after I've done the problem (lesson learnt from semester one, weeks 1-6!). You see in the exam it's not like I'm going to be given the answers right? (Although I wouldn't mind!)

So onto question 2 it was. I think I've managed to complete this question, but only just! Dare I say that beans equalises and scores another? Nah that's pushing it since I used my notes a lot for the second question, whereas the first one was actually a goal scoring moment! It was such a brilliant moment, that I had to post the highlights here -straight away! That should make you guys feel special as well! I mean you must have been following the proceedings of this game- it was much better than the cricket world cup for that matter. OK, I'll shut up now and go celebrate by having some good old breakfast. Hopefully my mechanics lecturer won't mind me being dopey today, since after all I do have a good excuse! I'll soon be finding out whether the mumbo jumbo about kernels was correct as well. Shame I can't nod of again- drat that adrenaline! ;)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Humour

I have just uncovered a conspiracy theory. The mechanics homework questions are made funny to disguise how hard they are. The original question can be found here. My version of the question is as follows:

Beans is sitting in a 10th floor office. Whilst staring aimlessly out of the window beans hears a
scream, “I hate Mechanics!”, and sees a fellow bean plummet past to the pavement
below. Whilst contemplating whether or not to do as the other bean had done, beans denotes the distance from the bottom to the top of the window as h, and the time that the suicidal bean took to cross that distance as T. Beans estimates that h = 1m and T= 0.05s. What floor do you think the suicidal bean jumped from, if each floor is approximately 4m and the suicidal bean was initially at rest?

Relax- I bounce, if you've forgotten, so the whole idea of me doing the same thing is ridiculous. Obviously I didn't consider it, but I certainly did consider chucking other things out of my window (namely mechanics things!) just to vent my frustration. (Once again not really, but I my initial amusement at the question soon turned to horror.)

I also noticed the footer where it said that if we find that question easy we should hand in question 3! That must be another joke, but alas this time round I'm not amused. I've been circulating between my homeworks today, and have not been very successful. I started with the mechanics question, did hopefully the first bits and then became stuck. So then I moved onto Linear Algebra. Can I just say that some of the books I have are ridiculously silly as is Google. The question is as follows.
Now I understand that ker(T)= null(T). So I first started by writing the following:

This seemed right enough to me, however I can't help but feel that I'm missing the 'plot'. I didn't worry about this for too long, since I'd gone through all that effort(!) and didn't want to feel that it was wasted. So naturally I moved onto part (ii). If you've got your face buried in your hands after my first attempt at that question, then let me reassure you that although I did start the second question in the same manner, I soon realised that I had a big mess! So I once again consulted my notes, the books that I had and the Internet. (You've probably realised that I didn't find the range, well I got it as span( [1 0 1 0]^T, [0 1 0 1]^T) but that's not left me filled with much confidence!).

In the end for question two I did it as follows:

So ker(T) ={0}. I once again smelt a rat, but after deciding that the range was all possible nxn matrices over R I moved on. (Well that was the only possible range it could be, since the nullity of T is 0, so the rank has to be 4!).

I'm using this post as an excuse for writing matrices with LaTeX, so please bare with me. I must say the most enjoyable part of my day has been trying to get them matrices to work! I felt that things could only get better, so like a blind mouse I continued to part iii. This was 'nicer' or so I thought anyway. I did the same as question 3i and then got it down to the following:

Hmmm, you see typing this up has another benefit. I've just realised that it's when A equals it's transpose, so I can have anything were the zeroes are, since it doesn't really matter what they are! But then that'll change the nullity to 3!

Anyway, fun's over for me. The range stinks and so do these questions. I despaired for a moment, thinking who am I kidding! I can't do any of my homeworks, so what the heck can I do? You see whilst I'd become stuck with the linear algebra homework I'd jumped to sequence and series. I was doing ok until that became impossible, however I was more relaxed about this since I just added the problems to my standard list of questions. Now I was stuck- what shall I do? Thankfully the moment of despair didn't last for long, since it can be quite demoralizing. I decided to look towards the positives but what also didn't help me was that whilst flicking through the text books, in hope for help, I'd stumbled across other questions which I couldn't do. Me being panicky didn't help, but I'm all calm now.

I'm going to tackle the mechanics problem again. I've got such a cool diagram drawn out, however I can't seem to use my ideas to get some answers. Maybe I'll do question 2 first (not yet tried that) to get in the 'swing' of things. About three weeks left till the exams. Coming back to university has given me the false sense of security that I'm 'working' and 'revising'.

However on to less depressing things. I'm going to yet comment on the football proceedings, since I'm going to patiently wait for next weekend! (Go Arsenal :D). Today my other uncle came over and he brought his kids as well. Now the funny thing is that today as was sitting watching TV my auntie asked, 'Are you any good at maths?' (I was pretty annoyed at this moment since I'd not been able to do my homeworks). I laughed and said, 'I'm OK at it.' She then asked me to help her daughters with her maths homework. I breathed a sigh of relief. Although I'm not sure whether she was being funny, or whether she truly didn't know that I'm doing a maths degree. Whatever it is, I was in no mood to 'defend' why I do maths so I gladly escaped to help my cousin with her work. (She's in year 5 and boy did I have a good cry when I saw her homework sheet!). It seems that she doesn't like maths- and the reason being was that she liked English better. Fair enough I thought so didn't worry myself by trying to convince her otherwise. (Noddy ended up helping her in the end, since I hadn't been there when she was stuck).

Primary school seems so appealing at the moment! I mean during break time or lunch time all we did was play football, cricket, tig tig etc etc. Wednesday's was the chess club and some other other clubs were also ran. No stress whatsoever. You stressed about getting picked to play on F's team, since his team always won. You didn't run around during your lunch time trying to complete your matlab project. Excuse this garbage- it's just that being 'older' isn't appealing as it seems. As Milo comments, when we're small we always think 'woo we're going to be 18 one day', but once you're 18 you think what the heck is so special? (although since technically I'm six this doesn't apply to me :D)

BTW I think I may have offended you guys by asking whether the theorem was 'correct'. The answer, for anyone who like me never lets on when things aren't obvious is that the theorem is incorrect. This is because zero is a real number, but the square of zero is zero which is not a positive number. So the square of every real number is not positive. (This stupid little fact was what caused me to miss the answer from the multiple choice test- I'd assumed that 0 was positive. Anyway one learns from their mistakes right?)

Maybe it's because of the weight on my head, but this post seems duh duh! I didn't accomplish what I set out to do, but worry not got another few hours left to finish mechanics!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Art and artists

Once again I will be quoting Prof S and it seems I'm building a collection of his quotes! (although I do fear misquoting him, but this is the best of how I remembered it).

So on Friday, Prof S said something along the lines that the multiple choice test that we had on Wednesday was created by two artists i.e. the two lecturers who had taught us linear algebra. (As Milo, Jake and me had been discussing/moaning about it, since as you can imagine you have 50 minutes to work out the characteristic equation of a matrix, and then you have to work out another characteristic equation and find eigenvalues and eigenvectors as well. That's not a problem but the clock ticking is.)

At that time I didn't think too much of the word artist, I mean I was too busy talking about multiple choice tests! However, today as I did nothing (which will probably be the reason that I'm going to be freaking out tomorrow!), I came across a quote by Pablo Picasso which has inspired this post so to speak.

Now I'm not an artist, so please excuse any incorrect 'technical' terms that I may use, obviously correcting me if need be. However, to put it simply an artist draws pictures. I'm deliberately using 'baby' vocabulary for this because I want to build what an artist does from scratch. So an artist draws has been established. Imagine you're an artist and can draw, or you're just a normal person eg me (but not normal!) who likes 'drawing' but isn't very good at it. Now the question arises about what exactly an artist draws. What do you draw? What makes me want to draw?

For an artist the motivation to draw could be quite unrelated to what an artist draws. Waking up in the morning and seeing the sunrise may be some form of motivation, or maybe seeing an ant crawl. Some people don't have to be motivated to draw- they might be mechanical about the whole thing. In the end of the day, both the motivated and unmotivated artist will have drawn something. For the motivated one feelings will be expressed as a result. A deep passion will be stirring within as she works away, and feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction will be ripe. For the unmotivated one drawing will be like a 9-5pm job. You wake up in the morning, head of to work and do your thing. At the end of the day you come home and the cycle continues, and you're content with this since you're doing your job and living happily. So we've now deduced that artists draw, and there drawings could either be a result of some sort of motivation or nothing.

The natural question then is how does the artist draw his/her picture. How does he express his motivation and feelings if they are indeed motivated? Does she just use pencil colours, or maybe crayons and felt tip pens? Maybe paint is going to used- watercolours or acrylic ones. Or maybe this artist only requires a pencil and paper (canvas) to work her magic? This artist may then want to specialise in a certain type of art- sculpting say or whatever tickles his pickle. Once again, for the sake of 'consistency', we now have an artist who can either draw, sculpt, etc; who has pens, pencils, paints and paper at his disposal and who may be mechanical or motivational.

So we have a 'recipe' for an artist, or maybe an algorithm can be constructed from the above things to deduce what type of artist you are? That sounds wrong before it's even been written down, since just because an artist uses paints today, doesn't mean that he'll use them for the rest of his life without trying other things.

It may be obvious where I'm heading with this, but the quote I happened to come across was:

"There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun." Picasso.

Now the most important thing is that, whether you see the yellow spot as the sun, or the sun as the yellow spot depends on who you are. You might see a yellow spot, whereas I might see the sun. That's the beauty of art- it means different things to different people, and everyone sees something else. So I've said art is beautiful and since everyone is different, different forms of art will attract certain people.

Have I said all that needs to be said about artists? Oh wait, I forget that sometimes drawings paint a story. 'A picture is worth a thousand words' right? I mean that the artist may want to tell a story through her pictures, in the same way that a poet or author tells his story. You see as these artists paint more and more stories, the pressure on them increases. The audience becomes bigger and bigger, so the artist strives to keep the audience interested. Once again this actually depends on the type of artist. Maybe the mechanical one will have more pressure on him, since the motivational one 'goes with the flow' and works with inspiration. Whatever it is, soon the artist may inevitably present his stories to an audience- alas I forget to mention that this is by ultimately by choice. And it is the choice of an artist to take someone else under his wing- to guide and help another person or people to draw beautiful things. Obviously the students will be keen, since the artist has done much work which is to be admired and the student herself wishes that one day she is able to draw beautiful things like her mentor.

Obviously the artist doesn't hold the students hand whilst she draws- rather he guides her along. Showing her the world and its beauties from which the student can find inspiration. If the student's mechanical, then the artists job might be slightly easier. He says draw this using this and the student does as she's told. The student which is not mechanical, will obviously be the bigger challenge. For when asked to draw using a pencil, she might try using her pen hoping that the artist doesn't spot it! (Wishful thinking eh.) At the end of the day, the student seeks to be able to paint such a story which will not only impress the artist but also the audience.

So where am I going with this. Well as all random mumbo jumbo I ramble on about, this inevitably has something to do with maths. I have started with how an artist begins, however in terms of maths I will do the opposite. A lecturer, say my lecturers, are artists. They're the Picasso's and Da Vinci's of the world amongst us mere mortals. They've been through the 'motions' and are now showing their stuff to the audience. You have the mechanical ones and the inspirational ones, however like I said- where you might see mechanical I see motivation, like in the artists. These lecturers are all great in what they do. Their paintings are 'beautiful', and the stories told by them are never ending.

So one lecturers paints a story in the 9am lecture. You're enthralled by it- begging for more. It's beauty has scorched you, and you yourself now go in hunt for this 'beauty'. However in your endeavours you ultimately stumble and so consult the artist on how to progress to the next chapter of the story. The 'motivated' lecturer may say little to you, which will mean a lot whereas the mechanical one will say too much and might give the ending of the story to you! You continue in your struggles, but everyday 9am sharp you're there to hear the story continue, reinforced with the understanding that you have of it so far. As one story finishes, another starts. You never tire of listening to these stories, since in each different one you see something else. Each stirs different emotions within. Some might make you angry, but you don't avoid these because you want to story to quickly end. Others may have you hoping that they never end. The emotion that you feel from these stories, ultimately depends on the story teller- the artist- the lecturer.

But hold your horses. I aim to be consistent and so must once again must remind you that the emotion felt by me by one lecturer's story, will obviously be completely different to the emotion you might feel. We all have different types of paintings that we like and we might like a painting for different reasons. In a way I'm trying to indirectly justify, that my not liking a certain lecture is partly because I don't like the way the story has been told. The way it has been drawn out- I can't find motivation from it, so I'm not very fond of it.

Now this is when you come to admire the great artists who paint a beautiful story (Dr C, Prof S, Mr H.... ). They're the motivated artists who inspire you indirectly and you're thankful that you're their student. Each of these artist is different, and what their individual paintings give you is different. Dr C's patience, cool ability to explain things differently, whilst at the same time making you think for yourself. His 'humour' and also how he strives to help you (and his great lecturing style). Prof S's unique lecturing style, his funny stories, comments and the way he makes you want to learn! The way he knows who's talking and lets them know as well, and the passion with which he teaches Mr H for pushing me further and further away, whilst at the same time helping me to fly solo. Now these are the artists which leave a lasting impression on you, and you hope that they continue to do so. I could go on about this, since this list of fine artists which I've encountered is rather long. (I've not even got to my year 10 maths teacher yet!)

I'm stuck on where to take this next. I could ask you read the beginning of the post again and replace the word art by maths, and other words with maths terms but that won't make good reading! So I'll summarize. Maths is a picture- it's art. Painted by artists who go by the name mathematicians. Each artist is obviously inspired in a different way, and the picture maths is seen differently to each mathematician. What I see from it and what motivates me to is different to the next person. You know in the same way that when I 'sketch' I hope to one day improve, the same thing applies to the art of maths. 'W.l.o.g*' everyone can do 'basic' maths in the same way we can possibly draw. So we all have that platform to begin with. As you progress the tools you use to paint your picture advance, as do your mathematical skills. You may still be like me, still aiming to be able to draw properly, however you get something from these drawings which is more than your hope to draw properly. Maths might no longer be something you want to 'improve' in.

Initially when you learn to draw you imitate what other artists have done. For example you draw Lowry's pictures- not entirely the same, but they're a guide. The same applies to maths. You learn from other mathematicians. You might have a deadline to finish a painting- to finish the chapter, but now you're thinking with your head in the clouds. You look to your lecturers- the great artists- and see them drawing without deadlines. You see them finishing chapters and starting new ones- and they continue drawing. However your lecturers are also inventing new chapters and pages of art. That's your motivation now. You have the tools provided by the teachers, you know how to use the basic ones and possibly some of the less trivial ones. You aim to be able to use all of the difficult ones. To be able to confidently tell the story to someone else. Not necessarily 'invent your own' and present it to an audience, but rather know your trade.

Once again I ask myself about where I'm going with this. It's a circular argument- the 'procedure' of becoming an artist is not quite different to becoming a mathematician. Creativity is needed, which is where maybe I stumble. The passions there as is the motivation and desire. The tool box is quite elementary yet, so I will content myself by getting a fresh paper and drawing what I can. Maybe I'll draw something beautiful, like do a proof from the homework questions. However as always there will be a blank paper waiting. And upon stumbling I will look upon the great artists for motivation, and most times I hope to find it.

So maths is now like art. It emanates a beauty which certain people see, whereas to others the same emotion isn't felt. It's never ending, infinite and 'continuous' and the world is full of artists. Some we see, and others who we don't. Every artist seeks to fill his case with tools which he may require for his painting. Every mathematician hopes to do the same.


I apologise for the length of this post, and it's repetition. I have myself got lost within it, which has resulted in a loss of structure. The version you're reading now might be different from tomorrows (erm its 2am!). I at least wanted to say that I've done something productive today, hence this post!

* without loss of generality :D

Friday, April 27, 2007

Brain dead

Firstly, before I continue writing anything else I must warn you that this post is going to be a typical Friday post (but maybe slightly worse!). The thing is that today is the busiest day of my week- five hours at uni and obviously the in betweens.

I will pause for a second and think of 'structuring' this post. That's actually a load of codswallop, since structure is beyond me at this moment. I've been suffering from lack of sleep, well a messed up sleeping pattern to be honest. Thursday was great because I'd had good sleep, but last night for some reason I was in the mood to do 'maths'. Obviously since this mood comes and goes, I took advantage of it. I did my mechanics coursework and more of that will be discussed later. Then I did my linear algebra homework- well question one anyway, since we hadn't covered the material for the next question. The natural option at this point was to sleep, however like I said, maths was upon me so sequence and series it was. I chugged through the question sheet, did some other random questions and even found a coolish site on sequence and series. Now I've previously been set on trying to understand the proofs of this module. Yes that is important but ultimately by doing the questions I'm grasping the stuff better. So the proof 'understanding' is taking a back seat- as long as I know what the theorem is telling me, I'm ok for now.

As you can imagine, for a dodo like me, being able to chug through questions was 'nice'. I mean I obviously had problems and these went to the standard list for the example class. (Although unfortunately I did spend way too long being stubborn on understanding one concept). It was early morning when I finally called it a 'day'. So maybe I can be forgiven for a robotic post? (You see on Friday's I'm mentally zonked out and don't really want to do maths- so blogging is the natural option!). This morning I was sick. Weird- because normally you know when these things happen! My mum tried to shove honey down my throat in the morning, but I dodged her attempts and headed to uni.

The calculus lecture today was mind boggling at times. Well the first hour anyway. I see all these words- central gravitational fields, motion in a plane etc and I know that they should be making sense. I should be able to explain and understand the concepts, but it's all slightly hazy. Maybe it's because I've told myself that forget about calculus revision until after the sequence and series exam, because I'll have 10 days for it. You know it's slowly coming together, but not yet there. We did something about orbits today and it was pretty 'cool'. However I have a question for you, which I hope that most of you will know the answer to. Why do we have seasons in England, or generally in any country? Now you see I can't really remember what my initial response would have been, but I'm darn sure that it was the wrong answer. I'll give you a clue before you think it's the same answer which I had possibly thought: the earth's orbit around the sun is only slightly elliptical.

We had to fill some feedback forms in today, and obviously I don't mind doing that! I must point out that I didn't write, 'mechanics suck' but something along the lines that I suck at mechanics! :D There is a big debate about whether these are useful, and I believe that they are. Some people may take the mick but I mean there's nothing wrong with telling the lecturer what you found cool about their course is there? Key word- constructive. (and maybe an odd 'lame' joke!).

After this lecture it was naturally the linear algebra lecture. Bella didn't talk today! :D I think this was because we were all in our own zones today, well for a while anyway. (Bella normally talks when sat next to Panya, however when she sits in between Fizz and myself she doesn't talk!) As always it was a pleasant lecture, and I learnt quite a few things concerning the real world. I didn't mind this, since it seems that during this semester I have overlooked doing others things which I enjoy, like reading books. The celebrated Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich has died at the age of 80. He seemed like an interesting guy, although I've never really taken an interest in music. (However I do own a Czech Classics by Zdenek Macal, which you might have difficulty finding!). Something funny happened today, and before Prof S changed his mind about recommending the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, I jotted his name down! Now I'll probably look into his work, but on the link the word existentialism stuck out. I hadn't heard of that word until college, when Mr Hu had told me about it. (You see I've also been one who carries a lot of names around!). Anyway he recommend the book Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka which was indeed an interesting read. (Gosh it's been ages since I've read a good book!).

Got slightly distracted there by 'real world' things, but I guess it's important to have a nice balance of interests. Also came across a new 'arrow' for writing if and only if, which I can't seem to locate on LaTeX. Oh, I don't know why but when Prof S asked for the dimension of the basis of an mxn matrix (I think) I said mxn. Obviously not loud enough to be heard, but my heart was pounding nevertheless- I mean I put it down to not feeling well in the morning, but I don't know what's wrong with me! (Just a chicken I guess)!

After this we had a shortish lunch and went to the sequence and series lecture. Dr M didn't look to good, and I agree I think it's that time of the year! Once again not many people attended, and I have stopped caring about this. I mean there's nothing which can be done about this and it's the end of the semester soon.

After this lecture I went to hand in my homework, (only question one), and then proceeded to the example class. Now there's two reasons why I seem to like these example classes. The first obviously being that Dr C is one of the staff present, and the second being that after that hour or so I feel 'on top of the world' so to speak. Maybe this could be called just one reason, since ultimately this is due to Dr Coleman! I was asked today whether I was looking forward to the semester ending. My natural response was no, since that signals the exams starting and I don't in a weird way want lectures to end. I mean the year seems to have been so short, compared to say the college year. Thankfully this wasn't deemed too weird! (Although I did use the PASS scheme as an excuse to do maths in the holidays as well!).

Naturally I had gone prepared to the example class - my standard list not just having questions about sequence and series. I also learnt another important thing today: just because others are inconsistent doesn't mean that I should be. Sweet. I even dared test Dr C on a question, but obviously he wasn't phased by it. :D (thankfully!). The on top of the world feeling is due to the fact that I get my problems solved which results in me generally feeling positive about things. I mean I was quite pleased that I'd proved something correctly, (although I'd once again done it the long way round!) and understanding the notes was also good. It's unfortunate that today, I erm... didn't attempt to 'borrow' the register! (damn my short-sightedness!)

Now onto LaTeX. I had a printed page of my coursework which I'd used the back of to do some questions, since it'd been printed twice. Anyway, a word of advice if you're using TeXnic Centre. Before you edit your document, copy everything you've typed up and paste it to notepad or word. I learnt the hard way, but alternatively like it was suggested to me today, you could leave lots of spaces between parts of your work so it's easier to edit it later. I hadn't done this and last night, whilst editing my coursework, I deleted the wrong question. I composed the document and then saved it without realising what I'd done. So later on when it came to printing it out and triple checking, I realised that something was not right. Thankfully I had saved the pdf file in my p-drive so I had the work I needed saved! However at the time when I tried to somehow undo my stupidity I really freaked out.

I have now typed it up again, for completeness, but thankfully it wasn't as much as I first feared. LaTeX is pretty cool and my coursework looked pretty darn cool, although the same can't be said for it's content! It seems that Dr C spotted a misplaced bracket, and one can hope that the person marking the coursework will overlook this error. (Maybe I should check through the errors thing). Oh, and I should put fullstops after writing maths equations and the align bits. (Fair point, since essentially it was part of a sentence).

The example class banter was as always present, and it seems that I'm known as the 'bean who sits at the back of lecture halls who pesters lecturers'. :D (Hmmm, I'm not sure of the truth of that statement but will double check upon this and report back!). I did suggest that I won't attend Dr Coleman's lectures next year, but he obviously wouldn't want that (erm.. that's coming from my mouth)! I mean how could he after we've planned that if someone is talking continuously I'm going to point them out to him whilst he's lecturing. ;) (I wouldn't really do this, but it's a cool plan nevertheless). The question is do I trust the staff at the example with information about my eyes! It slipped out of my mouth, honestly. But what's the worse they can do? (Write really small on the board is one thing!).

My banana nearly went missing, but no one takes the banana whilst I'm around so it was saved. :D Yes I'm persisting by talking about the banter, namely to stop me from writing about something which happened just a while back. Before I forget, I don't know whether you recall me 'accidentally' falling onto the control panel of the lift? Well today it got it's revenge and tried to kill me! As you can deduce from this post, I survived (thanks to my folder). The question is have I learnt my lesson? Erm... what's the question again? ;) I say bring it on for round two!



PS: I really am brain dead at the moment!

PPS: The dentist people are pretty silly since they sent me an appointment for the time that I have a Linear Algebra lecture. However I'm thinking it's a conspiracy theory, since Prof S suggested that the dentist appointment was more important! I'm going to put that down as a joke, since the dentist may be important, but not more important than maths. :D

Thursday, April 26, 2007

L N i.e. log_e (and other snippets)

First question: How do you pronounce ln? Do you say 'lun' of L N? If 'lun' then I'm intrigued as to where that comes from! Now I'm going to get to why this post is about ln (pronounced as LN! :D) 'lun' just doesn't sound 'right'!

So what is so special about ln that it deserves a post title. Well you might have noticed that things in maths which 'bug' me- for more than an hour that is- get this special honour. I was also tempted in writing 'integrating inverse trig functions' as the title, but thankfully I resisted. Now please can someone clarify the following:


Hopefully you can confirm that for me, otherwise I'm very worried indeed. I've been told that the modulus sign isn't 'necessary' at this level, since if you have ln then it naturally means that you take the absolute value. The natural question which arises is why have I not written ln|-g| = ln g. I mean that is technically right(?), since g is a number (the evil number!). Now bare with me if you're wondering what I'm blabbering about again. You see I was doing a question and this 'beautiful' question required using the separation of variables method. I did this and then applied the initial conditions which resulted in the blimmin, ln(-g). I left this as it is, did nothing fancy with the minus sign like in the picture, and thankfully got the required answer.

You've probably realised that I didn't get the right answer on the first attempt. I confess- it frustrated the life out of me, but the 'get in there' feeling did come to pass.... well until now. The other problem which I have as a result of this, is the darn constant of integration. Ultimately when you integrate you get a constant. When you use separation of variables you get two constants, but two constants can be combined and called another constant 'A' I guess. That's easy enough to understand so you only have the constant on one side- normally the right hand side. Now I'm going to hazard a guess that I kept on getting 'weird' constants because of the fact that I was messing with the ln(-g).

Actually I have just done the question again in six ways- yep that's right six! I'm lying when I say that I have nothing better to do with my time, but I just had to get it out of my system. The first three ways I had the constant on the right hand side, and the other three it was on the left side. I did with the ln as the following: ln(-g), -ln(g) and as ln(1/g). Now this is one of them 'don't try it at home moments' because frankly I have a mess. The constants are indeed the same (thankfully) after some work. But the answers with the constant initially on the left is different to the one where it is on the right. I'm afraid I haven't 'double checked' my answers since this would require patience above all, and I've lost count on the amount of attempts I've already attempted this. Maybe I have made an error, but what I forgot to mention is that when I use ln(-g) as it is, the answers is the same regardless of where the constant started!

This is telling me that don't mess with logs- they're evil so and sos who enjoy making me suffer. But seriously, unless I'm having a dense moment (again) why is this happening. I mean it ultimately boils down to the picture above, but I should 'technically' be getting the same answer, right?

I'll leave that as it is for now, because thankfully I have 'scored one' for the team. This nagging feeling will annoy me for a while, but I'm going to 'double check' my work on the weekend- I've had enough for now. So I mentioned inverse trig functions above, and the following picture is a 'standard result' which we're never told directly. I confess that integration is not one of my strongest points, namely because I can't remember the standard results! I also have a problem with 'spotting' solutions. Anyway, as I was doing this other question I ultimately became 'stuck' again. One could call this integration question as trivial, and when I tell you that I had it in the standard form, then it definitely is 'trivial'. Drum roll please for the following 'standard integral'....


Now that can possibly be a lot of mumbo jumbo, since I've written it down myself. However the following is what this stems from:
A big thanks to a maths lecturer from the mss building for that! I was having a nightmare trying to check whether I'd integrated something correctly and Google wasn't being nice! (differentiation seemed the obvious thing, but I couldn't remember how to differentiate trig inverse trig functions :/ I am doing a maths degree right?!!). So I acted on impulse and instead decided to ask a lecturer who I see around, but who doesn't know me, for assistance. Thankfully he did help me, and what I'd been doing had been right but I'd forgotten the above which was annoying me since I couldn't understand my work. It seems that I best go over my first semester calculus stuff as well!

Now I'm guessing that you might find the following in the staff room for the maths lecturers:
(Might need clicking) but I guess not everyone finds the fact that I like interacting with lecturers good, and even the staff seem to agree as well! :D Haha, to those who haven't yet met/taught me- beware! Or maybe it should be me who keeps an eye out for things- I mean I'm definitely outnumbered! (Oh, and that's not the real picture- my spies are working on acquiring one. ;) )But even after this I'd still talk to the lecturers any day, which makes it more frustrating for them I suppose. :D (Once again thanks to the lecturer who helped me today).

Well obviously the day hasn't been all gloomy- we had no sequences and series lecture because it was cancelled! Now if I was sent an email saying that the Linear Algebra lecture had been cancelled, then I could have possibly been reduced to tears, but on this hand I was 'happy' although I hope that the lecturer does get better. The linear algebra lecture was good today, I'm glad that we did linear transformations, since although I knew what a linear transformation was (T(u+v) = T(u) + T(v) and T(cu)= cT(u) for all u,v in W and c in R) that was all I knew. The rest had been mumbo jumbo.

Funnily enough, although I'm not 100% sure, Bella was having a nice conversation in today's lecture. Thankfully it didn't bother me today, since I had a good nights sleep yesterday but does it make me a 'bad friend' that at times it does bother me? I mean each to their own right? Some people don't have to listen and are able to later on understand stuff, but like I said I didn't sit next to her today so it was OK! Prof S also commented that someone got -4 in the multiple choice test yesterday! And I have to agree with what he said, that sometimes the 'ugliest' or 'horrible' of things are beautiful in their own way. (However this might make the person who got -4 proud!). I got my result and it was another 'goal scoring' moment. (Although I must confess that I did ponder on the question which I'd missed and had been 99% sure off!). You see yesterday after the test I'd bumped into my personal tutor, and upon meeting him I'm thinking of changing the alarm bell signals to, 'Don't guess the answer if you don't know it, but if you're 99% sure then answer it!'. Well I agree with what he said about not guessing if you're clueless rather than if you have a 'vague' idea. Alas, this makes me sound ungrateful (as Po put it) so I'll compare my mark to -4 and not 18 (as someone got) and be content. :) (I tend to be harsh on myself).

This 'reflection' only hit me afterwards- I am actually quite happy. Pleased enough not to have a rant at multiple choice tests as I had initially planned. :D A word of advice though- the process of elimination is your friend when doing multiple choice tests. Example- you have to find the eigenvectors for a matrix P and have three options. Find one first and check the possible answers, if it can't be any one then cross it out. Find another and once again, from the two options remaining cross another one out. Now you're left with the answer and don't have to work the final eigenvector out. (well that's what I did anyway and it worked!).

Finally, if I may continue. I'm just going to say a couple of words on this and leave the 'deep' stuff to another post. As I sat back and looked towards the 'future' today, as one does, I couldn't but help feel that life isn't a linear function. I mean that's obvious right, but sadly I wish it was. I mean if you have a straight line and I give you an x co-ordinate then you'll be able to find y. If in life I was to give you a time, then wouldn't it be 'beautiful' or 'nice' if at that time I was doing what I'm doing now. Well slightly similar anyway. I know that makes life a 'boring' process, but I mean in terms of maths. 'My Maths' to be precise. I have certain aspirations- each as unlikely as the other- but this linearity would definitely make them possible. Alas I must resign myself to the clouds, where everything is nice and linear and where one doesn't have to worry about what one does not manage to achieve, but rather how one continues to progress. It's hard for me to find consolation in the clouds. But it's hope that keeps man going I guess, so that is what I will now do- hope that one day I can achieve a certain type of linearity in terms of my maths. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

D's b/ Old habits die hard

So I return to my blog again- have I not got better things to do? Well to be honest I'm still recovering from the Linear Algebra test so, nope nothing better to do. (Well apart from two coursework’s and revision that is) Why am I recovering - well you see I’m an idiot. Plain and simple idiot.

I always tend to do a 'post mortem' of a test (another old habit I guess), but this is mainly to do with questions which I couldn't do. So obviously when you find out what you either did wrong, or couldn't do then the feeling of kicking a wall (or football) emerges. Sadly no football was nearby, so I had to resort to jumping on the spot.

I knew the bloody answers! Well I knew one of them, but then I heard the warning bell in my head- 'Don't guess otherwise you might lose a mark'. Yes- the test was negative marking. I'm pretty annoyed with myself at the moment, because in my heart I was thinking that the other two possibilities were not possible. I knew it wasn't a permutation matrix- just darn knew it. But then the bit about n distinct eigenvalues seemed to stick out. I was 99% confident that the answer was c) A is invertible. I quoted the darn theorem to myself. But alas I ended up leaving the answer blank, because I was scared that the 1% chance that I was relying on to guess would be wrong. I'm pretty sure that I did Stats last semester, so why in the world could I not see that the chances of being wrong was ‘slightly less'.

The other question which I left blank is just plain embarrassing, and well I can't make myself type what I had stupidly thought. Although due to this incorrect, 'assumption' of mine I will be having a word with someone! Once again I had eliminated one of the possibilities, but because of my silly head I had to end up leaving the question blank. In this case I must say I'm slightly relieved that I didn't 'guess' the answer, because the one I was inclined to due to my 'assumption' was in fact incorrect. Sigh. So that's two questions I've missed out. I think it was 2 marks for a correct answer and -1 for an incorrect one. So if I had in fact 'gone with my instinct', then I'd have got 2+ (-1) = 1 mark. That is better than 0, but I was risking getting -2 marks which was what put me off. (although now I've lost 4 marks- humbug!)

I am going to leave the full rant on negative marking for another day (after we get our results!). Yes this test is only 15% but every mark counts is my theory. One can never predict the outcome of the final exam, so if you're carrying hopefully about 9/10% then it makes me slightly more confident!

You see I'm rattling on about the two questions which I left blank, but doesn’t mean that I got the rest correct! We had about 50 minutes for this test and I must say the time flew. Sadly, I slightly 'panicked' which didn't help. Some questions were pretty long, and my not reading the question properly didn't help proceedings. The question asked us to find the general solution of a matrix. It had been given to us in row echelon, so I proceeded by writing it in reduced row echelon form. Not a problem. I counted the number of columns- it was 5. We had three pivots, hence two free variables. I rattled through this and in the end got the solution: a=-9e-d, b=..... Etc. Anyway I then looked at the choices available to see whether my answer corresponded to one. Is it that obvious that my answer was completely wrong! I had two free variables- the answers possible only had one! This was the reason for my slight panic. I mean I knew I could do this, since we'd been doing questions like this from day one.

So I proceeded by counting the columns again. 5 columns, with three pivots i.e. 2 free variables. Memories of the sets numbers and functions exam came pouring back. I was too chicken to put my hand up and enquire as to whether there had been a mistake in the question! Surely it's me who's doing something wrong. Yes, that was what I convinced myself and so worriedly moved onto the next question. Now once you're in the state of mild panic it becomes hard to concentrate on one thing. My left hand was shaking as I reached for the calculator. I hate finding the characteristic polynomial of a matrix- just don’t like it. But I started the next question...and then erm thought it was taking too long, got slightly 'bored' and moved onto the next question. (It takes me ages to get it to become nice!)

Inevitably I had to return to the question about the general solution. I did it from scratch but once again I got the same answer. I was willing for the question to somehow change, or my working out to change! But then it happened. Another example of my stupidity was shown to me. The question had said, '...general solution to the system of linear equations with the augmented matrix....’ If you could hear what I was saying (I tend to talk to myself during exams!) I wasn't saying a lot of nice things to myself. Well the word stupid was a dominant word indeed but I'd once again NOT read the question properly. So relax, I got my answer to match one of the available ones (still don't know whether it's right though), and calmed down slightly.

Now the 'bonus' of the multiple choice test is that when your answer matches one of the available ones, you feel the way you do when your team/you score a goal. You know the 'get in there' feeling. However I was restricted to my seat, so no jumping up and down was allowed. The rubbish thing is that when you've slogged away, passed the ball around in midfield, found the opening upfront, beat the offside trap and then you miss. You shoot and the ball goes out for a throwing. That happened to me twice. But what made it was worse was that I was one nil down and had a few minutes to score that goal otherwise we’d get relegated.

So I’ve not had a good test indeed. Sadly now I want to know what I got wrong. (Apart from the questions which I know about). I also feel a bit annoyed at not being able to check my answers, that's one thing I hate not doing!

Gosh that was a mouthful about a silly ickle test wasn’t it? I woke up at 3:15 am this morning which might explain the poor English in this post. Waking up at that time is the old habit of mine, which will always remain with me. I can’t do ‘all nighters’. I always have to wake up at some ridiculous time and revise then. But you know when I do wake up and for the next few hours I’m wide awake. I’m at the hyper stage now, but obviously will soon crash. I did the problem sheets and read through the notes- maybe should have read them properly, then maybe wouldn’t have made that stupid assumption.

Dare I go further and ramble about the ‘cool’ things that happened yesterday? Well I’ve got another 10 minutes so it’s ok. We have another coursework for maths workshop, so obviously had the group work session yesterday. Now normally in the lunch period myself and Milo or maybe Fizz at times, see whether we can understand the problems. I didn’t do that yesterday, because frankly it’s been too long since I’d had a stress free lunch! Alas, that proved fatal. I was once again at my worst- making ‘lame jokes’ to disguise my inability to do the questions. In my defence it was one of them days where most of the group was zoned out. (I did question one though!). I like this module, but like all things we like, there are times when you dislike as well. Not quite a tongue twister I’m afraid.

I’ll shut up now. Oh it was 3-2 to United last night. Sweet, however it’s only half time so hold your horses. Tonight it’s Chelsea vs. Liverpool. Once again I’m torn about which team to ‘back’. Who would I like in the final if we progressed to the final? Maybe Chelsea, who are ‘fatigued’, or maybe Pool? No idea- it’s either going to be a draw tonight or a win to Pool; however after some discussion today I can not really say. Gah- I’ll be supporting football tonight whilst doing my sequences and series work of course! :D

(Keep d’s b in your minds for now- unless you want to hazard a guess at what it can be! Random- I talk too fast, which isn't a good thing if I want to be a teacher!).


EDIT: In yesterday's lecture something else 'funny' happened, although I can't mention it (under grad alert!). Anyway, I'm pretty sure that whatever happened didn't affect the person it happened to, because although I wasn't sitting near them, they still didn't learn their lesson. :D (My eyes might not be cup winners anymore, but that's because of my ears! Dare I quote Gimili, 'eyes of a 'bat', and ears of a hawk'. erm that's a slightly edited gimili quote!)

I actually edited this post because upon reading it, I noticed that I'd written 'taught' instead of thought, and a few other errors. Had a good old chat about football today which was great since it's been a while since I've spoken to someone about football. (my friends don't understand what I get out of it, hence I'm normally reduced to random outbursts in this blog!). Anyway, it's been an ok day- got my mark for the calculus test back and I've done ok. :) (Not got script back yet, although I'm 'eagerly' looking forward to it due to the question I wasn't sure about!). Erm that is all ... for now. I'm crashing- aaaahhhhh! :o

Mathematicians set Chinese test

Should I be encouraged that I can at least do the test set by English universities?

To be honest I've not yet tried attempting the question from the Chinese one- I have a Linear Algebra test soon and have been up since the early hours of the day doing some questions. My brain is slightly more disjoint than normal. However, sometime after 1pm I shall see what I can make of it and report back, hopefully in one piece.

I think it's interesting, since in my further maths class we had a guy who had come from China to study maths in England. It goes without saying that he was a brilliant mathematician, and well I loved having him in my class- that meant I could carry on looking dumb whilst he answered the questions! (Although it was a shame that due to some visa problems he didn't complete his A levels. Was a good guy and maths lessons used to be good fun as well.)

I'm afraid that's the biggest paragraph I can muster today- linear algebra calls. Boo hoo.

Why not to be a primary or secondary school teacher!

This explains it all - and for an ickle bean like me, that's more than enough reasons not to go down that field. So maybe college it is then!

Too early to write anything that will make sense so will be back later with more.. erm I'm not saying when though! (Thought I'd forget about it later so just posted the link for 'light reading'.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

How not to get someone a present.

Well excuse my lame attempt at this anyway.

'To ......,

Happy Birthday. Age your age not your shoe size. etc etc etc

I'm afraid that I haven't been able to get you a present, however when you buy the DS I will contribute towards half of the cost. Although the following conditions apply as well: Multiply my contribution by 1/2, then multiply again by 0.9. Then minus 10 and finally divide by 0. Whatever number appears on the calculator will be my final amount towards the DS.

Hope you enjoy the day.'


Well obviously I hadn't written it as nicely as that, but I wrote something along them lines in someones birthday card. :D Unfortunately it wasn't found particularly amusing, so I content myself by eating some cake whilst laughing on my own! I am not responsible for any flying cake which may hit you as a result of the above. Use at your own risk!

If you're wondering 'what the heck' then choose any number and do the calculations on it. ;) (Ok, it's late so please don't get offended by that comment!!) :D

Have to mention something else here- Mechanics = not a lot of nice words. :( I don't want to say that I'm at a disadvantage by having done M1 at college, but it's completely different at uni. I mean why can't we use the blimmin SUVAT equations? I was doing a question on projectiles- managed it but got stuck. Consulted my college file and realised that I could have got the answer by SUVAT. Sigh. The thought of being at a disadvantage is due to the fact that everything is conflicting with each other. Naturally I want to do it the way I have been previously taught to do it, but I know I can't. Fizz is lucky in the sense of not having done any mechanics before. I'm too tired to shout and scream at mechanics- must resign myself to the fact that it's going to be over soon! (I actually felt positive after today's lecture as well. Humbug.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Deep breath!

Obviously that wasn't what I initially intended to call the title of this post- but guess what, Chelsea drew! Now, this is a bonus and probably explains why I'm feeling better than yesterday. I love Newcastle. :D Damn, deep breaths. Can't get ahead of myself here. We need to win four more games. We're probably going to lose/draw against Chelsea, so that means we have to beat City, Everton and West Ham. You see if we lose against Chelsea, then them three games become must win, and since our goal difference is better than Chelsea's we might just clinch it! As you can see they're not the easiest of fixtures -West Ham are fighting a relegation battle. I do think to myself, that why don't these teams just 'let us win'. I mean do they want to see Chelsea win the league again? (Chelsea fans please ignore :D) I don't know, but I don't really 'hate' Chelsea. They have a cool manager and some top players- I just hate losing against them!

OK, best put that to the back of my mind otherwise you'll find me a disappointed bean again. Going to jump between topics, but as I was writing the 'mumbo jumbo' for the final answer to the stats coursework, I realised that it was no easy task. Google was the natural choice and upon googling for what I was interested in, I happened to come across my own blog! Freaky- made me think about whether other under grads might have done the same thing and found this blog. That had me worried for a second, actually more than a second, I mean I'll be hunted down in 'bundles' otherwise. Got to be careful about what I post about! (But alas Google wasn't much help, so I have actually resorted to writing mumbo jumbo).

I did a spot of baby sitting today or shall I say brain washing. Well it was either that or painting! I'd take brain washing any day, since then I don't have to be doing stuff constantly. Just stick the power rangers DVD on and every things good. For the curious reader you're probably wondering how the heck can you 'brain wash' whilst baby sitting a 3 year old and a four year old. Ah you see, I'm using dirty tactics so that these children don't end up not liking maths. Funnily enough, upon asking the older one whether he liked maths, I was met with the reply, 'No maths is stupid.' This had everyone laughing, but I wasn't going to give up that easily. I argued that maths was fun... bear in mind that my ickle cousin is fourish (goes to nursery). Urged on by the crowd he once again said, 'No it's stupid.' I decided that his mother had probably already got to his head before I could. I screamed whats one add one bear (nickname) but he was more interested in the reaction of the crowd. Thankfully the one thing which I was relived about was him saying that he likes Spider Man that's why he doesn't like maths.

I then decided to ask mini-bear (he's 3ish). Mini-bear said, 'yes I like maths.... and I like Gollum as well' (there was a poster of gollum on the wall). Obviously he had no idea what maths was, but my heart was flickering, I felt joy. I asked him again to be sure, 'Yes I like maths and I like Gollum. Bear likes King Kong'. That was all I needed. This shut up the laughing audience. :D So they soon ventured into my room. I have little 'aliens' or 'hanu-men' as they've been named by me stuck on my desk. They wanted them. I saw this as my chance to 'bribe' them, as well as the spider man lollies which I later gave them. Nothing worked with bear, he took the hanu-man, the lolly too and after kicking my maths books (ouch) walked out of my room. Little bear was better behaved so he ended up getting a piggy back ride down the stairs, much to his delight. Much work must be done with bear, but I fear that it may be too late!

Anyway, that was just my evil plan which I have now shared with you guys. Any ideas as to what can be done to set bear straight? ;) The main idea of this post is about maths with grown up people and I will begin from some time in the Easter holidays.

After my Grandma had returned from the hospital, we had quite a lot of family visiting. One such cousin came from Birmingham. I have aptly been named 'ASBO' by Noddy, due to me being 'anti-social' when my cousins came. To prove otherwise (not that I minded adding anther name to my collection of names!) I 'stuck' around and made 'extra' effort to 'socialise'. Things like 'what's happening in Home & Away' don't interest me I'm afraid but my cousin, who I shall call... well I don't know- maybe sponge bob, or gollum? Nah- I think mystique from the x-men is a better name, not that my cousin can shape shift, but because of what shape shifting implies.

The cricket world cup was a safe option to discuss, and so I tried my best to talk about cricket. Now Mystique obviously didn't want to engage me in conversation and looked around the room for someone to save her. (I also had a quick glance, but I hope that my glance was more subtle!). Eventually Mystique asked about whether I have any exams. It seems that Mystique's degree didn't have any exams- only assignments, so she was naturally shocked to hear of such things as exams. I told her that we have exams in about four weeks, and that's pretty scary. No big deal- she exclaimed that 'I'll be ok'. She then seemed to realise or remember maybe, that I was doing maths at university.

Then came the obvious question -'Is it hard?'. Now imagine sitting and talking to someone who obviously didn't want to talk to you, and maybe then I can be forgiven with replying with just the word yes. However, unfortunately for me, no one came to either of our rescue and so Mystique- after having yet another glance around the room asked, 'What exactly do you do? Algebra, addition etc..' (I'll spare you the rest- partly because I can't remember properly!).

Now I took a deep breath and thought- no one is going to rescue me and I have a point to prove to Noddy, so what the heck! I proceeded by saying that no it's not what she thinks it is. It's actually pretty different and diverse- and jolly interesting as well. We learn about proofs.... oops I lost her then. She was looking around the room again but once again she unfortunately wasn't saved- 'You enjoying it?'. 'erm yes- why wouldn't I be?' Was what I actually wanted to say, but I politely said I was and that it was pretty 'cool'. Hence you get the idea behind why I'm known as the family freak. :D (it's actually pretty cool being different. I've met so many people who don't like being different and rather than accepting this, try to change themselves to fit in. No matter what you do, someone is always going to be a prat- so my theory is don't change. Be yourself, your different self- sometimes you'll get ultra evil people, but they're probably one of them people who are themselves trying to fit in. Notice how I didn't use the word weird (that's specially reserved for me!) you can't say that I don't give 'useful advice' :D)

Anyway, going back to Mystique, I think the reason why she finds my obsession with maths (and football!) weird is because she herself has never had a cause to get excited about a subject, or anything apart from her little self and surroundings.

Now note, I was tempted to talk about other things that I do at university, but thankfully this time both of us were saved.

Experience 2:
Noddy is with a friend. (I happen to be everywhere!) I'm reading a book- Fermat's Last Theorem if I recall correctly. So, I'm in my own little world when suddenly I hear the friend asking 'so what course does your friend do?'. 'Maths' Noddy replies. Suddenly all eyes are on me. I smile- well you know the way Shrek does, upon meeting Fiona's parents! Introductions are made. You know what happens next don't you? 'What on earth made you do maths?'. Now I'm writing these events in the order they happened. This was the Tuesday I think. Anyway, I laughed and replied- 'A moment of madness maybe, or the right accidents.' Doing my best to be cryptic of course. I was then asked, 'what exactly do you want to do after you degree- I mean what can you do?'. Unfortunately for this person, the first thing that came out of my mouth was 'more maths'! I thankfully recovered before they went into shock, by replying teaching possibly, and there's lots of other things which I can do.

I won't bore you with the other questions which were asked, however they were similar to Mystique's questions. My answers always seemed to lack something. Maybe I should have put a serious face on and answered, rather than laughing. Anyway, I did turn the argument around and asked Noddy's friend why they were doing the course they were and what they could do with it. My question was laughed off, making me wonder whether Noddy's friend actually wanted to the course they'd enrolled on.

So after these two events happened, I decided to ponder about how exactly I could answer these questions. I mean, I've tried the 'maths is the reason behind everything' line, but people find that hard to believe. Actually they don't really care and why should they, after all knowing this isn't going to affect their lives.

However before I managed to think of a 'cool' phrase- Thursday, when I ventured into town- I bumped into 3 people from my secondary school who'd been in the year below me. 'They'd heard I was doing maths at university'. Do I or do I not scar them for life by confirming this! Well I said that they'd heard correctly and three mouths flew open, 'Oh dear, how can you do maths- I hate it.' etc etc etc. But you know, this time the three didn't seem concerned by my 'love' of maths. They didn't care that I was obsessed by it, they just felt that they could never do it.

Obviously once again I was asked the normal questions as to what I do etc. Maybe because I was 'technically' a year older than these three and since they'd not reacted like Noddy's friend, I muttered something about 'learning about why we can add two numbers etc'. They seemed amazed by this and amazed that I was interested in it as well. Obviously they asked whether it was hard. I once again confirmed this, but said that everything in life will be hard. One mentioned my year 10 maths teacher and inside I felt a warm glow, and sent a mental thank you card to my maths teacher. You see these three were in the process that I'd been in just last year. They all were doing a chemistry A level and had offers for pharmacy and optometry. I obviously told them how to tackle the synoptic paper in chemistry and told them that University is all about what you put in. This is the first time that I can recall actually having a conversation like this!

Now from the three experiences in the past week or so, the last one is the only one which I didn't really mind. I mean it the first two don't bother me as much, since you get used to it, but the third one didn't have me justifying my actions.

Whenever I tell people that I like maths, I'm normally met with another Shrek like look (the one from the first movie when they first go to see farquad and them dancing toys sing, 'welcome to...'):D. Then some people probably laugh and others seem amazed and automatically jump to the conclusion that I must be a genius because I do maths. I don't feel particularly clever at the moment, and I normally reply with, 'No, I've just always liked it and when you like something you 'work harder'. You see why do I whisper, after a short nervous laugh, that I do maths. I'm scared of these comments, truth be told, but seriously I don't like telling most people that I do maths. Should I feel special that they react this way? No- they're just putting more darn pressure on me! They only incident I recall someone not being shocked is the day when I bumped into my headteacher from primary school, who replied 'of course!'.

Anyway moving on (yes there's more), during the week, whilst commuting, I couldn't but help avoid listening to a conversation. Do I lie and say that I wasn't doing my homework at that moment? These two women were talking about a third person from their company or something, who couldn't spell. One woman loudly exclaimed, 'I take pride in my grammar and punctuation being great- but he couldn't even spell the word scissors. How can you not spell nowadays- that's shocking!'. etc etc etc. You get the gist. They discussed this for a while and at the same time I wondered, 'can I spell the word scissors?' I decided that I thankfully could, but I also wondered about why if that person couldn't do maths it wouldn't be such a big deal. I know there have been numerous posts about this in Blogistan, but seriously we should care that someone can't do maths as much as someone not being able to 'spell'.

I have my own opinions on why that is so, but do you think that anything is ever going to be done about it? Will people ever care that they can't do maths- will they continue to hold that as a trophy? I guess that another trophy that people hold is that 'they don't like maths'. Can we not take this trophy away from them?

The main question that I want to ask is, what can I say to people when they ask me what maths is about/like in university? I mean what do you say to someone enquiring about maths, when this person obviously doesn't like it? What do you say so that rather than weird looks, you get people going 'oh'. Or is that wishful thinking? I can't unfortunately think of anything 'cool' which I can say, anyone got any ideas?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Expectation

Is it bad that the first thing I'm going to warn you about is that I don't mean expectation, which you encouter in stats? I mean I claim to 'dislike' stats, yet I seem to recall this! Ok maybe that's because I've been typing my stats coursework up today, but still! I finished the coursework and the document has 30 errors, 5 warnings and a couple more bad boxes. Oh and I haven't done the last question which requires a sentence or two about which estimator is the best. Most likely will write a lot of mumboo jumbo for that, but apart from the that it looks good.

So what expectation am I talking about? Well what other type of 'expectation' does there exist? (I bet someone is going to tell me some other type!). I'm talking about our own expectations of course.

The other day as I was bouncing about, after battling with Matlab of course, I bumped into my personal tutor. We had a chat about maths of course, and the prospect of failing was mentioned. I joked about failing and my PT said that I wouldn't like that. I agreed and then the word expectations was brought up.

You see everyone has there own expectations. You have yours, I have mine and the next person has theres. I believe initially these expectations are a result of other people's expectations of you.

Now I don't know where to begin. (Obviously from the beginning would be a nice idea!). Anyway, in my case primary school was without any pressure whatsoever. Oops a lie- you had your teachers expectations. For the year 6 Sats that is, but I think that the scale of this expectation was pretty small. I mean results seemed insignigicant then, Mrs H obviously wanted me to get a level 5 in maths but it was no big deal, a level 4 would've been great as well.

Then it's secondary school. Slowly you're building yourself a whole list of expectations. OK. Once again I must pause. It's not been the best of days I must admit. In secondary school the expectations of your parents begin. They only actually kick in during the exam time. I mean since I'm not the eldest one can say that I have that other extra expectation on me. Its never bothered me but I've always been compared to Noddy. Well I used to get really annoyed when teachers used to always compare us, but apart from that we got by. It must have been worse for Noddy.

So you have your parents expectations and on top of this your teachers expectations. You never realise that these other peoples expectations are now your own. You've set yourself a marker, a marker which indicates the acceptable level of how you can 'perform'. So for English maybe you set yourself a B, however your English teacher pushes the marker to an A. In Maths you set the marker at A grade, but then the teacher pushes the marker up to A*. Luckily the marker can always be pushed forward.

So you continue through life, carrying everyone's expectations on board. I mean I can't possibly see how my expectations are my own. They are due to my parents and teachers and other people. Not a bad thing of course, since I'd rather get my markers pushed forward rather than have them move back or stay idle. In my case there is also another form of motivation which I will discuss some other time. However at this moment in time, when I'm feeling slightly despondent, I want to distance myself from these expectations.

Truth be told, having these expectations has been a motivation of some sort. You know coming home and showing my report card to my dad used to make me happy. I aimed for that. Making the teachers happy with my grades. We become dependent on these expectations, they give us happiness but of course other 'bad' things as well which we forget in that moment of happiness.Have I set myself up for a big fall? You see now in university it's all about my expectations. These expectations are what will determine how I do. I have my own marker down. But then you have my aunty who has put her marker down, and other people who put their markers down. Why do people do this?

I'm in a pressure bubble at the moment. I'm fighting these expectations. Ultimately everyone elses expecatations are now my own. My marker has been contaminated. In this moment in time, the only person who cares so much about where that marker is me. I'm worried about 'not hitting' the marker. As my personal tutor said, not meeting your own expectations is the worst thing. But the funny thing is that by not meeting your own expectations you don't meet anyone elses.

I have my expectations. I know that I'd like to pass. However not just by getting 40%. Failing may seem unrealistic to some people, however if I don't hit my marker I fail. I aim to hit my marker, but I feel that maybe I'll have to content my self by just missing it.

I've now hit the point where I've become stressed. It feels crap. The bad thing is that in my case I 'stop eating' proper food, which makes it worse. (food=> energy). I've not been feeling well today, and maybe everything has hit me at once. I really want to finish this final lap, but I'm slowing down. You see there is one other motivation for me to fail at most one exam. It's complicated - the motivation that is- and I must confess that for a second it seemed tempting to fail at most one exam. Not because I wouldn't have revised for it, but due to some other reason. As you can imagine that didn't go down too well with my 'expectation' level, so I must resort to being a chicken and attempting to pass the exam. I'm actually quite glad that my EL kicked in then, because failing sucks.

Maybe united drawing against boro could also describes my mood. The headaches not helping, but in the Linear Algebra lecture I had though to myself that we can never trust boro. They're $£%^&*()(*&^%$%^&* (lots of angry words- kids might be reading :D!) and they always have a thing against us. Anyway one can always hope that Chelsea will lose tomorrow... right? We're not winning anything this season. Too many injuries and I just can't but help feel that Chelsea have been teasing us all season.

I happened to feast my eyes on a past paper today, which also explains my mood. I mean why do we create this pressure bubble for ourselves? Or is that only me? It feels that way anyway! I mean, you're all probably thinking 'there goes that freak again' but don't you have your bubble? I want to pop mine- I don't want to care .... Yes that's a load of codswallop. I want a lot of things actually. New trainers, a digital camera, maths books etc. They're things I can get- but that bubbles never going to pop.

I only really become a worry head since my Biology GCSE. Believe it or not before that this bubble never affected me. It was in the distant, only cropping up when I didn't hit my marker, but end of the year exams didn't matter as much. Since my Biology GCSE I've suffered from the bubble being close by most of the time. Especially when it's exam time!

It seems that this post is pretty messed up. I want to write one thing but end up writing another. I keep on writing words like were instead of where and you get the point. Here's a quote which I found 'interesting':

Memorization is what we resort to when what we are learning makes no sense.
Anonymous


Maybe it's about time I did some of that. I'm sorry, I've not been clear. You see exam stress is normal- it's this other thing which is ticking me off and that's bothering me so much. It something which I have no control over and is causing me a great deal of distress. This thing is also another reason which I have been distracted. This combined with exam stress doesn't make a good combination. You see whenever I think about this thing, which I unfortunately would like to keep to myself, I think about deliberately failing at most one exam. But then I can't do that.

OK, it's time I got a grip. I've got a better idea- let's blame everything on my mechanics homework! :D Yes, that made me smile. I've finally finished the coursework, typed it up as well. Thought I'd do all my homeworks today so that I could revise for the test tomorrow. Didn't get far with the questions and well the question sheet has seen better days. It's vectors you see- they don't like me. But I played some cricket which made it slightly better- bowled a 'beauty' of a delivery! Where's Paddy's lounge when you need it?

Once again apologies for a duh duh post- I'm probably going to edit it later with more concrete stuff! I just hope that tomorrow is much better than today, in terms of getting work done and in terms of me eating food! (and Chelsea losing would also be a bonus).

Friday, April 20, 2007

*Dramatic musics plays in background*

If you're wondering why, then shame on you! It's a blimmin Friday - what do you expect? 5 hours is a long haul, especially when I seem to extend these 5 hours to 7ish hours. I've been doing 9am starts for the whole week, which is also another reason for my 'distracted' state. My brain is functioning (thanks for asking) however it's having a little breather. You know, the way I do after walking up the stairs of the mss building. I ventured there again today and this time it was less painful- hurrah! I think the lecturers should also walk up the stairs- you know.. for fun. :D One of the lecturer has I must confess walked up the stairs once or twice, however I'm sure that this was due to there being a fire alarm. (although thinking about it, why would you walk up the stairs if there was a fire alarm- I must have heard wrong!). There could always be a 'maths' break on G floor, for those who require it. Or is my definition of fun not global? Haha, I don't think I'll be liked by my lecturers for suggesting this.... it takes 3.5 minutes you know! (You didn't hear me say this).

So as I type it seems that I'm feeling like my normal self again. This week has really been so and so. The main reason being that my sleeping pattern has been all messed up (due to the holidays) so I've only had bursts of 'freshness'. The one thing I'm looking forward to tomorrow is waking up without the darn alarm.

There's no reason to mention oscillations- oops I just did. That wasn't deliberate BTW, a slip of the fingers. So, 9am I was once again doing sequences and series. 10am calculus lecture. Now I bet you're thinking, 'oh not again'. I don't blame you for thinking this, I think that all the time, but today I really enjoyed the calculus lecture. It was 'fun'. Obviously I don't mean all of it was fun! I'm not that crazy. Pfft. Children of all ages, feast your eyes upon the greatest invention ever known to me 'yet'...
Yes, it's a gyroscope. Pretty darn neat if I must admit- and cool. Would you class my childhood as being worthless if I say that I don't remember coming across of these? I mean it does look like a bey blade, (I happen to possess one- go Dragoooooon) ahem. So obviously as soon as the lecturer whipped this out, my full concentration and attention returned. The lecturer proceeded to 'get it going' and I seemed to have a vague memory of something similar. However since it was vague I didn't worry to much over it. It's cool, and I'm six so no mean comments. Ok maybe you can comment but no more than 1 mean one! (haha I was going to write at least 1 first, which means trouble).

Now my eyes are not what they once used to be and I have a mortal fear of the opticians. They don't like me. Unlike dentists, who seem to always want you to bloody go back to them so they can meddle with teeth which they ought not! Anyway, I've been suffering from headaches because of my eyes, and I hate it because it makes concentrating a pain. (don't worry, I have a plan for this but there's this one word which is preventing me from doing this. Begins with an 'l' if you're interested.) So towards the end of the first lecture I was trying my best to listen, but it seemed that there was no brain-ears link. (BTW angular momentum isn't that bad- you see what I like of mechanics is how we can actually describe physical things using it. I mean when you're trying to balance on your bike without moving, that's more difficult than when the bike is moving. This is because of the spin of the wheels and something to do with angular momentum. I found this interesting and how the gyroscope is used in planes etc. If I can see what's happening it makes life easier).

So the calculus lecture was a hit. All I'm going to say is that after the break I was pretty happy! (and at the lecture as well :D). I bounced out of the lecture room, across the road to the Chemistry Building.

Linear Algebra was 'different' in a good way of course. We did co-ordinates of vectors and I seem to vaguely remember this from the first half of the course. We need to remember that a vector v from the space V can be written as a unique linear combination of the vectors in the basis. (Oh and order matters!). That was just a recap for my own benefit. Anyway, some guy probably must have been talking and Prof S asked his friends to let him out. However the guy was allowed to sit back down once he told Prof S that his shirt was for the team Wigan. Later the guy was asked which team Wigan play on the weekend and we were told some random team I've never heard of! It turned out that his top was for the rugby team. I heartily agreed with the notion that in that case he shouldn't have been allowed to sit down again. :D (Not that I have anything against the guy, but football is much better than rugby. I'm not a fan of Rugby- hate it, allowed I admire the fact that you won't find any 'divers' in rugby).

Anyway, it seems Chelsea have got Newcastle away this weekend! Go Newcastle... ok not going to happen, but 6-point gap was so much nicer! I mean we've got tough games coming up. Boro on the weekend who you can never trust, Man City soon and Chelsea as well! Am I becoming optimistic about us winning the league- drat I better go back to my 'Chelsea are going to win' opinion. So Prof S is into football (I guess) and he does maths as well- what more can us maths students ask for! And he used to like United until RVN, but you can't blame him for that. When a player becomes bigger than the team- they've got to go. (I started to dislike RVN as well).

Oops I'm getting carried away... again. So after the linear algebra lecture, it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that I did my linear algebra homework. Well tried to do it anyway. Obviously after this at 2am it was the sequence and series lecture, or shall I say 2:10? I'm wondering whether I'm actually 'losing' out by going to the lectures. If the term continues for another 6 weeks rather than 3ish, then there's no question of it being a null sequence. I mean today about 50 people came. Yes it's a Friday, and people have better things than maths to do, but are they better off? Anyway, my headache returned with vengeance and I was actually grateful when the lecture ended at 2:40 (30 mins again woohoo!) (note sarcasm maybe). You see my theory was to copy whats on the board during the lecture since that'll force me to pay attention. It did at first however I'm back to square one- need to get the hang of the lectures again. The one thing that did cause me to wake up, for the wrong reasons my I add is this:Haha, the pen wasn't mine and I had to write them notes with the paper on my lap. The Tweenies already think I'm a weirdo, this would prove it (and if they were also to find out that I walk up the stairs in the mss building for fun!).

If you're wondering whether that's what we're taught during the lecture, then I'm sorry to burst your bubble. That's maths mirror writing! Took a bit longer and towards the end my 2 became the wrong way round, but it was what was needed to rid me of the headache. Anyway after this I went to hand my homework in- obviously walking up the stairs in the mss building. This explains why I was talking more rubbish then normal, when I saw the example class staff on the way to the class. (I was recovering so to speak- and even when I was possibly really tired, I couldn't stop talking. Wow!).

Anyway, the example class, as always was a nice way to round of the week. It seems that my thinking in sequence and series is 'one-dimensional'. I mean, for example, the question was on the sandwich rule (makes you hungry doesn't it). Anyway, I wrote down the modulus of the function (which was wrong as well!) but then because it didn't turn out 'nice' I thought- crap what now! Hopefully upon doing more problems I'll be able to see different techniques to employ, however when Dr C guided me to the answer, I first thought, 'I'm meant to be able to do that!' and then wondered why I didn't see it. Dr C is probably getting sick of my stupid questions (not that I mind :D), since I tend to not to be able to do the simplest of things.

Thankfully I wasn't asked to do any fraction sums in my head today! (oh and if you don't believe that I'm scary, then the staff at the example would be able to enlighten you:D). I have a question: If the register, which you had put on the table(*) behind you went missing, and I was sitting at the table diagonal to * then what would you initially think? I mean why would I take the register- even though it seems to amuse me to sign for everyone (probably give someone heart problems!). But you wouldn't think that I could do such a thing! We're talking about me here. It was the aliens, I'm dead sure of it. I mean it could have been the people on the table in front as well, but you'd never suspect me right....! It's sad that all I hear you saying is 'give back the register'. :D Ok, I think it was a lucky guess, but I did say that maths lecturers are physic so maybe I was stupid to take the register in the first place. (But on a serious note I wouldn't have actually signed for everyone. Firstly that was last weeks register so would have been meaningless, and secondly I only have two hands so can only sign for two people! Any volunteers?).

If you were the poor soul who actually believed that I hadn't taken it, then it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that I did. I'm sure my mechanics lecture could explain all the forces that were acting on the register thus causing it to move towards me! (well the explanation sounds better than aliens). So yeah, I really enjoy the example class. 'Bundles' of fun, and obviously hearing a click in my head is always nice. I guess toady I can be forgiven for not being the sharpest of people around, but next Friday it'll be a different story. Muhaha. I mean- I'm not planning anything dramatic. Gosh no!

Sigh. It seems that I actually am quite glad to be back. Actually it's great- dare I say that I'm not looking forward to the summer holidays? I know I'm a bit sad, you know in the sense that I 'intensely think' about maths, but I really like the hustle and bustle of the week. Getting to lectures just on time (which has got to stop), walking from the Chemistry building to the mss one. Hanging around with the Tweenies, and of course doing maths. If only we didn't have exams, I'd attend lectures for everyday of the week if I could (maths ones of course!). /hyperbole.

I didn't intend to do any work today, since it's a Friday and my brain truly (well what's left of it) feels like lead. However I have now changed my mind. I'm on the last question for the calculus coursework, and it's annoying me. Going to do that now and then hopefully on the weekend do revision for the Linear Algebra test. (and hopefully some sequence and series- I can't believe that I've only just finished example sheet 2!). Have a nice weekend, but has anyone been able to prove or disprove 'the theorem' I posted? (Out of curiosity). If not you've got some homework to do as well! :D

[it seems that as well as being able to talk for England- I can type/write for England as well]