Sunday, April 01, 2007

So, what day is it today?

Aside: If you haven't already heard, Craig Laughton is going to have his blog published as a book! You can find more info. about this on his blog. Exciting times wouldn't you agree!

So if you've read that post and the comments, and had a good laugh at my gullibility, which you will soon realise is something I have to live with, then you might spot the 'link'! (I could go on about stories where my gullible nature has been exploited! :p ). But I'm not really too concerned about that, since although I feel pretty foolish, I'm used to it now and I do see the funny side of it! Now it's up to you- do you see the funny side? I'd written the previous post and this one at the same time, so please bare with this 'edited' intro since I'm not too sure how to structure this post. I'm going to reply to that comment and the comment on my other post in good time, however I must confess that I manipulated events to pull this 'prank' so to speak! We all get weird kicks out of things, and erm ... well I sometimes find doing stuff like that funny.

During the week I had said that I wasn't going to be posting for a few days. This was my mini-experiment, and I was really thinking about 'calling it a day' until I sorted myself out.
Here are the results from my experiment- my blog isn't a distraction - this I've established over the past few days. I've really been trying to find out why I've lost my rhythm, and why it's so hard for me to get it back and today I've worked it out. If I had suddenly done more revision in the past few days then I could have pointed the finger at this blog, but alas that wasn't the case (dare I say fortunately?). Although the reasoning in my above post partially contributes to my change in attitude, I knew that just couldn't be it. Even though I had the 'relaxed attitude' problem for calculus during the first semester, when the time came to revise, I revised. I know I might be hard on myself, but I have to be. You see the problem I'm facing now, is that I'm not revising. I do about three measly pages in a day. Three!

Now to the 'solution'. The main problem this semester has really been all the 'conflicting' thoughts that I've had. You see the day I decided to create a balance between 'social' activities and my maths, was the day that messed everything up. My problem is that I'm pretty impulsive, and once I'm 'excited' or into something I'm completely immersed in it. For instance Harry Potter (the books!!). I first read the Philosophers's stone in Year 8, and after this I became 'obsessed' so to speak (isn't there a nicer word which will make me sound less mad?). Now this is natural for me- I see something new that I like, and then I'm completely into it until I lose interest (which is rare). The thing is that I've never lost interest in Maths, and hopefully never will. However, as I've tried to slowly pull myself away from it, the link has severed. I don't mean escape from maths, but in the sense that I've tried to be more 'controlled' over this obsession!

The day when I mused about the dot product is the day which I believe things went fuzzy. I can still remember sitting downstairs, being stubborn and not doing any maths at all that day! None, whatsoever. After that it pretty much went downhill. I'm possibly exaggerating things here, because when I say downhill I don't mean a steep slope (gradient). A slightly sloped hill is a better picture. But eventually you do come to the bottom of the hill, and that's where I'm at now. This could be another one of them stupid things that I believe and go of on another tangent about, but I know it's not. I didn't give my last linear algebra homework in- not because I couldn't do it, but because I didn't bother doing it. I did try to seek justification of this by asking some teachers whether they'd like to have work to mark during the holidays, but it seems that I was fighting a losing battle! (sorry supervisor- but it was about subspaces, i.e. my lame excuse). Why am I saying that the hill was not steep? Well you see this hill had bumps in it, and those were the times I did sequence and series and other small motivations that I had to do mechanics and MATLAB.

Now what I've got to do is see how I can resolve this problem. Motivation is a delicate thing, like rhythm. If you're motivated then you feel that rhythm returning. (haha didn't use the symbol => !). Is proof by example sufficient for that statement? (:D)

Don't worry, I'm still as obsessed about maths as before, but it's either that I've 'burned' myself out or that I've lost that motivation. (apart from the bumps of course). It's imperative that in the next few days I 'rediscover' it so to speak. I'm at the bottom of the hill, but knowing why I'm there has given me a small hope. I was actually better disciplined today and managed to do what I intended. I've got to slowly work my way up that hill again, but now the weight on my back has slightly decreased.

Now I don't know whether to be apologetic or not, but I feel that what I did was not a good thing! The 'leaving post' was really meant to be an 'I'll be back' type of post, but then I delayed posting it until, well today! (It was meant to be posted a few days ago, but since I learnt (thanks to Alexander Borovik) you can change the time and dates of your posts I changed the date!). I did leave clues and all, and maybe the post became slightly longer but please don't be miffed!

Call me immature (well I am six!) but seriously, whenever I do 'lie' I always let you guys know, so rest assured that this practise will continue i.e. informing you about lying. I linked the 'paradox' post as a clue because I was feeling slightly guilty as well! So now I can change my tact and say that if you were on the ball, then you'd have figured it out! Basically you can't say that I didn't leave clues- I didn't even say goodbye to you guys (Steve (I and II)!, Jake, egm and all the other readers (Martin?)) so that should have made you suspicious. Also, I mentioned the thing about constant velocity, which meant that I'd seriously lost the plot or that I was up to something!

OK, I'll stop trying to justify what I did but if you really did read the post twice ( i.e. you cared enough to read it twice) I hope the news that it was a 'technicality' will be a relief to you. If you were secretly pleased- then HA! This bean isn't going anywhere (well not yet anyway). If you had no reaction whatsoever, then well I guess this post can be disregarded. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm not going anywhere- well not yet anyway, unless something happens that is. And well you know what to look out for in future when I'm feeling 'mischievous'. (should I have given the game away, but the guilt was killing me!). Taking the 'chaotic' nature of my posts away will take the element of 'me' from them, but for the next few weeks I'll try to be more controlled. Once again that's a lie. I really should stop doing that, but I don't know what I'm going to do about my posts- you can't control chaos can you? :)

I'll also be posting about the adventures which I've been having for the past few days (which I'm sure you'd like to hear!). So 'Happy April's fools day'- did anyone play any 'other' joke on you, or did you do something to someone else? Noddy has been texting everyone telling them he's dropping out of uni and various other bull. I was even persuaded to text Milo saying I've had enough and next year I won't be seeing him. (I used Noddy's phone so I'm sure Milo figured it out since he didn't reply- phew!). Apart from that it's been a quiet day today, and it's a beautiful night:

[You can erm.. bookmark me again ;) (please hehe). BTW I have another 'excuse'- blame the moon!! Not a particularly interesting picture, but I have a weird 'obsession' with the moon as well]


tdstephens3 said...

look beans - youre not going to lose your motivation to explore mathematics, ever. You may find this to be contradictory to nearly everything else you have ever heard as serious advice before, but... take a break in your head for an afternoon, a day or a week. I mean a break from chapter whatever, section so and so, problem x through a^x. Let this break coincide with a time where you can be alone for a while. Eat, sleep, listen to music, call an old friend... Then hit the library for some more advanced stuff. Skim the theory books (with a pencil and paper, please) check out Saunders Maclane or E. Landua's book on the arithmetic of the reals. Read Krantz's book Mathematician's Survival Guide or skim The Nature and Development of Mathematics by Edna Kramer. There is a book that is very nearly a fantasy novel called Geometrical Landscapes by Amir Alexander (I had never heard of him, either! - also, I havent read it but I think it may cheer you up a bit...) Buy a box of chalk and find an empty classroom and then do some problems from Schaum's Outline on Linear Algebra on the blackboard(that is a most enjoyable activity!). Maybe read The Double Helix from James Watson (not about maths).
The point is to allow yourself some time to be a real person. Of course we are different from real people but at least we can act like them once in a while, i.e. indulging in our overdeveloped appreciation for beauty and cultural expressions of unapologetic rationality.
USUALLY, I find that if I can get some real quality time in hanging out along the fringes of our subject, I wake up from an afternoon nap or the following morning with renewed vigor for crunching numbers through a course textbook.
Also, pay close attention to the amount of sleep AND NAPS you are getting, eat easily digestible foods and drink PLENTY of water. Carbohydrates are also essential to a properly functioning mind.
Mathematicians are complex machines that are prone to wear and tear, the student's task is daunting and must be approached with persistance.
And, by writing about it you have most likely already released you problems, so this comment likely has been completely uneccesary. Thanks for putting down some honest emotions, I dont feel so alone with my troubles anymore! (Also, A. Einstein once said "Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you mine are greater.")
Remember - you couldnt lose your obsession with maths if you tried, and 'obsession' is an understatement in this context and you know it!!

beans said...

Thanks for your reply- to be honest I feel pretty glad as well that I'm not alone in my trouble! So what happens if every mathematician started using that quote? :D (I like it though).

It's pretty easy to say that I'm going to take a break, but inevitably the worries never leave you. I have tried, but until I accomplish what's bugging me it'll be like a cloud on my head.

As much as the black board idea sounds great, I don't have one at home! (I know what you mean about it being fun- me and my college friends used to do 'maths' on a board sometimes during our free periods together (Tuesdays!)).

Now the books you recommened about maths, I can understand! (thanks btw, will check them out soon) but the non-maths book! How could you? ;) hehe I'm only kidding, but you're right, it's been ages since I've read a novel. Ages! I bought a james patterson book, but it's still sitting in my cupboard, gathering dust.

I really like your comments :) It sounds pretty cool, 'trying to be a real person' :D I think I quite liked being 'different' to a greater extent, that's probably one of the reasons for my downfall! (the 'real' numbers came to mind for some reason :o )

You've touched another interesting point! For some reason, during the holidays I become extremely lazy! During uni I have my lunch with me everyday- fruit, sandwich, water etc. The keyword is that I don't make it! But in the holidays I tend to 'not eat' because I can't be bothered! And no, your comments are not unneccesary. Writing this blog does help me get everything out of my head, but constructive comments like yours, help me see what I need to do, to actually go further. Thanks :)

egm said...

The Amir book looks good, I'll have to check it out. I just ordered Krantz's Mathematician's Survival Guide as well as Mac Lane's Mathematics, Form and Function. If for nothing else the great, informative comments you receive from others, I vote for keeping the blog going!

Jake said...

If for nothing else the great, informative comments you receive from others, I vote for keeping the blog going!

Yes, one of the benefits of blogs is that they can almost be like discussion forums except that they have the added bonus of one person keeping the topic focused and progressing it on. Lol, I would do my own blog if I could think of anything to say!

beans said...

Ah, once again you shouldn't have told me you'd ordered the book! :D Although I must confess that today I 'sneakily' passed the ISBN numbers of the books 'the man who loved only numbers' and the Linear Algebra one to my sister! (she's going into town- but it's all hush hush!)

Can't the darn bookshops have the books in stock, rather than us having to order them? I'll probably get the more expensive books from the library for the time being! :(

That's a good enough reason for me! :D (and this blog also allows me to get the mumbo jumbo in my 'head' out of it! which sometimes is a good thing.)

Haha Jake, it seems that I have too much to say at times! It's nice to have people commenting though and having discussions to see how others see things (hint hint ;) ) And ultimately I have really received a lot from the comments.:) (especially to do with my 'war' with sequence and series!).

Jake said...

especially to do with my 'war' with sequence and series!

That's what I have started studying today actually. I suppose one of the most important things with this type of area is to make sure you 'step back' and really concentrate on the wider scheme of what you are trying to show and why and avoid falling into the trap of what one of my lecturers refered to as just 'shuffling symbols round on paper'. I can recommend a fairly handy book on this actually 'Real Analysis' by John Howie (Springer Undergrad Math Series). I have found it perfect for my uses so far as it spends a lot of time on the basics and really helps you to think what is going on and assists in trying to understand things. It also has a fair amount of excercises too which is handy (most aren't too bad - so far anyway!). I think the only drawback with the book is that it doesn't go very far in the subject, so whilst it is the perfect book for me now; I think perhaps next year I will want something a bit more concise that covers more and that can be used as a reference.

beans said...

Best of luck! You see when you say take a 'step back', I take a giant leap back and then tiptoe forward!:D

I was just wondering does the book have much about 'sequence and series', because most analysis books which I took from the library focus on the 'Real' bit.

I mean do you think it'll be useful. (these are the topics which I need to know about:

mainly the test for series, sequences etc!)

Jake said...

I was just wondering does the book have much about 'sequence and series', because most analysis books which I took from the library focus on the 'Real' bit.

Yes, that is why I recommended it really - it seems fairly unique in that it devotes a whole chapter to sequences and series. As I said the only downside is that the book doesn't get that far so won't be much help next year for example. I suppose one has to weigh up the long term value of a book against its more immediate utility in helping you understand things.

Looking at the syllabus of your course; it seems pretty similar to mine and the book seems pretty ideal for it. I got it off amazon and if you go on the american site, they tend to have more reviews and more books that you are able to browse.

beans said...

Cheers. I looked it up in the library catalouge and they don't seem to have it (that's why I double checked with you :p).

If it can help me this year, then that's all that really matters! The book 'Fundamaentals of Mathematical Analysis' is the one which has been recommended to us and it's ok, but I wouldn't mind buying this one! (I just need an excuse to fliipin buy books :D)