Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rant: n \quad \exists n >0

If you buy a book for about £45 pound then don't you think that the answers in the back should be more than just 'No', 'Yes', 'That's all you're going to get from these pages'.

What the heck- so you're chugging through the questions, doing only the odd numbered ones, because it seems the bleeding author of the book has been too lazy to bother putting the even numbered answers. What is it with authors of maths books and even numbers? Is there something that I should know about them? The only scary thing that I can think of even numbers, is that 2 is the only prime number that is even! But come on, the author of the book isn't flippin 18/6 years old so he shouldn't have been put off by that!! Most maths books only have the answers to the 'odd numbered' questions so why do they even bother having questions 2, 4 ,.... 2k?

Rather than having a 'fancy' CD with the book, which is never used, they should consider putting proper solutions at the back! I don't mind them only putting solutions to odd numbered questions, I can accept that. But what I don't like is answers like 'yes'! For Pete's sake I already know that, but why?!!

If you're wondering which book it is, it's the stupid Linear Algebra one by some guy name Poole. David Poole I think. The book is pretty OK, however the guy has little question marks on the side of the some pages with questions that you're meant to ask yourself. So you do that. But what happens if you don't know the answer but want to know it? Grrrr- as you can tell I'm pretty annoyed. That's possibly an understatement. I don't mind buying books, but I'm guessing that the only reason this book was worth 45 odd quid is because of the damn CD. Am I tempted to check the CD out? Nope because it's just about how to use computer packages to solve matrices problems, and I damn well know for sure that we won't be allowed to MATLAB for the exam!

Seriously why bother writing all them questions out then? I'm more frustrated because the questions I was doing were on subspaces, and you know how much I hate them! Is he scared that we're going to copy the answers out of the book and hand them in? Hmpf. This has really put me off for the time being. He could have maybe have just spent an extra week or two sorting the solutions at the back out, and then maybe I'd say that it's worth £45.

Gah, I guess it's time I started making a 'standard list of questions' for Linear Algebra.


Anonymous said...

Many books include answers to only odd problems because of the prevalence of students who copy answers and turn them in. In the US, at least, ensuring that students are unable to simply copy the homework from the book and assigning enough points to make sure that they do it is one of the legitimate ways to raise overall grades on the end of term examinations. As the university doesn't wish to lose money by having fee-paying students flunk out, they're highly receptive to this.

beans said...

Gah I understand- I have the 'international student's version- not to be sold in the US'! So if he obviously decided to put the answers in this version then they won't only be found in the UK etc :p

I've calmed down since last night, but.... still annoyed I suppose.

I've learnt my lessons from copying the answers and handing them in, from the first six weeks of the first semester! (those I could anyway :o ). The thing is that our hw isn't 'marked' so to speak. We have to hand in what we've attempted and it doesn't matter whether it's right or wrong.

I would be slightly reluctant to recommend this book if you're using it to self-teach yourself. (That's because of the no-answers thing!).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the author of the book thinks that mathematics is about more than solving toy problems in a puzzle-book format where one always has an answer to check. People who use mathematics on a daily basis dont have a book of answers! They have to solve problems that nobody else has tackled and come up with ways of convincing themselves (and others) that what they have done is correct. At some point the training wheels have to come off the bicycle!

beans said...

I understand what you mean, but for the purpose of my revision, being able to check my answers would have been nice.

But the thing is I'm not solving problems which haven't been tackled before! I'm merely trying to make sure I understand the concepts by doing questions. Hopefully the wheels will come off when I'm confident that what I have done is correct.


egm said...

Welcome to the world of text books. It's not just this one, but a majority of the books you'll get will not have full solutions (that is if they include any in the first place!). If you want full solutions to a subset of the questions, in most cases you'll have to purchase a student solutions manual separate from the main text. A full solutions manual is usually offered to the instructors of the course as a marking aide, and you do have to prove you are the instructor to get it in most cases. As second anon writes, it is a case of you being trained to come up with answers that you convince yourself are correct based on what you have learned.

beans said...

I do have a very nice other book which has all the solutions! ;)

Lol, and anon two, I realise my smiley face might seem 'offensive' (can't think of the other word!), so sorry if it did. I just was acknowledging that I understand what you were saying. (but I still wanted to moan :o)

egm: I think I was annoyed because I really can't convince myself whether what I'm doing with subspaces is correct or not! You see most questions you can check manually, but the ones you can't seem to bother me. (since I'm not instructor that route is closed for me- not that I was actually considering it!)