Sunday, October 14, 2007

Complex Analysis I love thee.

Or should I have written that I love my complex analysis book? (Well I don't exactly love Complex Analysis yet you see!) This post is about yesterday, but unsurprisingly I was in no condition to type anything then. I unfortunately had only 4.5 hours of sleep the night before, (due to mysterious reasons indeed!) but still managed to survive all my lectures.

I had got home at sixish again, and after eating had really just crashed at 8pm. I had fallen asleep downstairs and had been unaware of happenings around me. Supposedly I was woken up to go upstairs, and although I am mocked at my response to this: ('Turn the light off'), I have no memory of saying such things!

Now from the information above it can be deduced that my day had been exhausting. I had stupidly on this occasion, decided to say hi to the mss building in the morning, when I had a lecture on the other side of the campus! I remarkably hadn't been late, but that meant a lot of huffing and puffing from my part. I have taken to 'driving' on the pavements, and I really think some sort of system should be introduced. There should be an 'over-taking' lane, where the fast walkers can walk; a slow lane for the slow walkers, and the general lane. I know this is not exactly ideal, but one can always dream. (It would be even cooler if you could only walk in one direction on pavements!) Whilst I am moaning about pavements, I might as well shout at cyclists. YOU ARE MEANT TO CYCLE ON THE ROAD - NOT ON THE PAVEMENT. Oh, and if you're cycling and it is a red light, then you are meant to STOP too.

That 'rant' sounded weird because I am not in a 'ranty' mood.

Anyway, our story starts at nine something on Friday morning. Light reading for me tends to be my course books; and on this morning, due to my disgraceful behaviour of falling behind in complex analysis, I was reading the recommended course book. Obviously I wasn't reading it like a fiction/story book, but I was trying to create a story from it. With any new course you have to familarise yourself with definitions. This year I am not leaving that to the end of term, but hoping to make this an ongoing process. The definitions in complex analysis are slightly 'dodgy' for me, so I found myself trying to say them in my own words. I read the book, talked to myself and then closed the book.

With the book closed, you could find me muttering the remarkable definitions to myself in English, trying to make sense of them. As I was busy talking to myself, I didn't notice who was nearby. A sudden voice woke me up, 'That seems to be an interestingly light read!' I looked around with a jolt. I found myself confirming what was said, and musing on how new courses tend to begin with lots of definitions. The person agreed and once again said something about the book looking interesting. Was I expected to diverge into a paragraph of how true that was the case? I didn't know how interesting the book was, so just mumbled something about complex numbers being rather cool. It seemed that we were both off to institutions of education. The man was a lecturer (if I recall correctly), but not in a mathematical or science course. I can't remember what exactly, but something to do with human....?

In this weird morning, I found myself facing a really pleasant gentleman indeed. He is the first random person that I have ever met, who hasn't become scared of my maths book, or maths! I found myself asking the obvious question about whether or not he was a mathematician. He (un)fortunately(!) replied that he had done a Physics degree in the 1960/70s (I can't remember properly). For a few minutes I forgot where I was, and amicably talked about applied maths etc. The man was now doing a Spanish degree whilst teaching too.

If you have been finding the conversation up till now weird, then prepare yourselves! We started discussing maths problems and then the kind kind kind gentleman, told me of one which had been sent to him some time ago. He said that it had taken him two weeks to solve it and had been quite difficult, and then proceeded to explain the problem. With 4.5 hours of sleep I didn't catch anything that was said, so I asked him if he could write it down for me. Quickly getting some paper from my bag, he jotted the problem down for me. Didn't I say he was a kind kind guy? I mean, how often do you meet random people who give you maths problems!!! He told me to have a go at it, and said that I should be able to solve it. I then hastily mentioned that although I love my maths, he shouldn't put any money on me solving the problem, for I am rather slow at it the same time. (Well I have problems moving off, but once in third gear things become nicer!)

The man then said that my lecturers might not even be able to solve it, but I hastily stopped that train of thought and told him that I have brilliant lecturers. This seemed to have convinced him, and he told me to go my lecturers if I had problems. I haven't had a chance to look at the problem yet, because since I have been home my bag has not been unpacked. It still is sat in the corner, and should be emptied tomorrow. So yes, I am sure that my lecturers will be able to solve it, and I will probably be asking them for assistance. (Also posting it here too).

Now at that moment I was still amazed at my luck, but then things got even more interesting. I told the man that he may regret ever getting me started, since I have a record for not shutting up! He replied that I have got some competition on this occasion, which had me in further shock. This guy liked to talk, and he claimed to be able to out talk me - just great. And so our conversation continued, me forgetting where we were and everyone else around us.

We continued talking about maths, and I told him about some of my lecturers. About how I loved taking notes, blackboards, and how I enjoyed talking to my lecturers (and joking around with them too). I told him a lot of other things as well, like wanting to see things pictorially at times, and he did the same. I think I probably beat him in this talking competition, but he then told me about his history. He's worked in the state, and even for the army too. This conversation was a result of me mentioning Fourier series. He said something about working with lasers, tanks etc. and something to do with the Masters programme.

Eventually he even managed to remember another maths problem, and he jotted that down for me too! Can you believe it - two maths problems in one day, and that from a complete stranger too. This time he was even more confident that I should solve it, but once again I highly doubt this. Now I could carry on about writing what we talked about, but it was just about maths and general things. Actually I recall telling him about the mss building and about how great it was due to the empty rooms it had, in which you could sit on your own and do maths. (He used to the same thing once upon a time, and said that the same mark was still there since his time at the university).

Before we had to go our separate ways, he asked me whether I would be there again next Friday. Even if I didn't intend to be there on the Friday, I most likely will be. He said that he will then tell me the building he meant, and check how I was getting on with the maths problems. And so that signaled the end of our meeting. I don't really care if I don't see him next Friday, but he was a friendly and pleasant man. I don't even know his name, but yes, it's all thanks to the Complex Analysis book! This one meeting is telling me to keep on reading my maths books!

Having wrote that much already, you are probably hoping that I stop now. But alas, having done nothing but sleep I feel all fresh and so will continue.

Unfortunately I didn't take that much in during the mornings two lectures. I think the PDE lectures and stats lectures go too slow. Now there is the nice casual pace like Complex Analysis, the slightly faster paced real analysis and algeb. structures lectures; and then you have lectures in reverse. I actually like the PDE lectures because the blackboard is used (HURRAH) and the lecturer makes the lectures fun. However, we never seem to do much during lectures and I am always left asking the question 'and...' after we finish. The stats one are unbearable because of the OHP. I honestly can't keep up with the copying and the listening - nothing went into my head.

My sleep deprived state could be the cause for this, but then why did the Algeb. Structures lecture make sense? Well not 100% sense, but I understood the subgroup criterion (and know to learn its theorem!) and really enjoyed it too. After the lecture I was left wondering about how cool it would have been if our degree ran over the course of 5 years. Or even better, the number of years was uncapped! I think PS is going to think I am weirder than weird now, but I honestly felt comfortable talking to him yesterday. It was a fun conversation. He has been really encouraging too, but I am still conflicted. Bella told me to focus on my main mathematical aim in life first, and then the back up plan second. I don't know: is it possible to do both at once? Twenty one seems rather young, but that is the whole point is it not? GAH. Did I mention how unsettling the future is? Especially for someone with an over active imagination like myself!

Sigh. Moving on, I befriended a joint honours student on Thursday and she is really nice. Someone from my college who was on a gap year last year, is also doing a maths degree this year! The cool thing about the new building is, as someone mentioned, you see and talk to a lot people. That is great. However, unlike staff and postgraduate students, we don't have our own 'offices', so doing work on your own is quite difficult. Also it is somewhat of a 'norm' for staff to be working in there offices, unlike for students. If you have been doing some work, then it is possible to escape from it and bump into many people; but you can't do the opposite. That being said though, I am confident that this week is going to be different and I might be able to do more work at home.

The complex analysis lecture was OK. I had a little tantrum because we had theorems, lemmas and what not thrown at us without proof! Yes - you read that correctly: I wanted the proofs! I spoke to the lecturer later on, and I guess his explanation made sense. (We are doing power series at the moment you see). The thing with proofs is that, as well as breaking lectures up into chunks, they allow you to digest the theorems. I didn't really digest any, but no proofs it is.

Now DC did something on Thursday which gave part of the game away. It is not game over yet, but soon will be. As things are developing, my paranoia is also playing up. Medication is futile: it is about facing my 'fears'. (Pfft!) So, although now I am thanking DC I think I was thrown into a panic initially about what happened. On Friday I decided to talk to, let's say cal*, about this mysterious object. cal had thanks to DC, began putting two and two together, but I though it best if I explained my motives. On Thursday I had subtly asked cal something, and on Friday cal told me that he had assumed that I had got two things confused. (And obviously rather than finding it funny, felt sorry for me I hope!)

I hadn't been confused at all, but was being mysterious. I talked a lot, and cal listened. I am sure that some zoning out did happen, but I did repeat a few things so that is OK. The bonus is that now cal is in so to speak as well. I sold my item. I think cal is cool too, and when I asked cal about what I could say to people who exclaim 'Maths' in a high pitched voice, I was told that cal doesn't normally like telling people that he's a mathematician! I can understand why too, but we have got to change this. I needed some dates from cal and they weren't nice. Although I was unsuccessful of trying to convince him to change them, I think our discussion to work around them might just work. I think it is safe to say that cal also knows that I am a 'giant freak'. Phew.

So my Friday ended on a positive note once again. It is quite weird, that rather than becoming depleted at 3pm on a Friday afternoon, I become filled with energy. I think this scares a few people, especially since I hadn't had any apples or bananas too.

* It's meant to be CAL and it stands for something. Have fun guessing!

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