Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Actually it was 63 people!

I had forgot to include the speaker, in my previous total of the number of people at the lecture on Wednesday! Without him there, I think it is safe to say that there would have been zero people in attendance.

The sixty third person is my PT of course! I went to see him today to get my complex analysis result and we talked about the lecture. However, the unfortunate thing is that my PT came a bit late (due to him having a lecture just before) and upon entering the room saw the people stood near the door. He thought it was a full house and didn't stay for long, but what matters is that he stayed for some interval (no matter how small it is!) From my friends I am the only one who really talks to my PT (as I do with most of my other lecturers!) Milo had been with me, and I think he was getting impatient as we had talked about the lecture.

Todays stats lecture was lost on me. I am trying to make a link with college work, but I can't write and listen at the same time. If I try to listen first, then I never get a chance to write since there isn't sufficient time. I am having a complain about this because I want to stay on track. I have been devising a mini-plan for my recovery, for it is indeed painful tossing and turning in bed thinking about next week and anything but my studies! Fizz said that you tend to think about what's more important to you before going to sleep: next week is very important to me. Ah well, I have to find that balance between excitement, nerves and appearing like a dodo. It is the last one which is causing me more sleepless nights if truth be told.

Topic change! I sort of embarrassed myself today. It is just that sometimes one feels that no one can be bothered reading ones long posts, and hence no one reads them. Other time one doesn't know who reads what!

Today I had a slowish day, which picked up pace. I sort of learnt that applied mathematicians like writing du/0, something which "I can't do". (I say that in quotes, for in a lecture DC said "But I can't divide by zero." in a way that that said maybe someone else could!)

Algebraic structures was fun today, apart from the two erm.... *not nice people* (insert appropriate phrase which you find necessary!) who would NOT shut their mouth. I huffed and I puffed and then carried on copying of the board. Dr. Coleman got a cheer in todays lecture as well (as he always cleans the boards when his lectures are over) and PS also remarked about the "physics" left on the board!! (His exacts words were more amusing.) Strangely enough the stuff that we did with DC last year is prickling in my brain, but I am glad that someone else shouted that (a,n)=1 was what was required, for I was going to say (a,b)=1. [Also another thanks if you are reading(!), because I had misinterpreted unit for the identity, and nearly said zero when asked for the unit in Z!] ;)

I enjoyed the lecture because it brought things we have done before together. Like C* and R*, and also Z*, so you could say that a rather lame sense of achievement was present. (On Friday we had a test an hour after PS's lecture, and unsurprisingly only a few people were absent. On the other hand, the PDE lecture had much less people attending.)

Before I head to sleep I have a question. If examples classes are voluntary to attend, then why do you bother coming if all you are going to do is talk? (Especially the classes where the lecturer does things on the board). Maybe this is what is known as a rhetorical question?

Being positive is killing me, so I am going back to being realistic. I don't know what to focus my energy and efforts on? Next week or my studies? I am being pulled towards my studies, but maybe on this one occasion I shouldn't be. Another "ah well" and good night!


Anonymous said...

Being an applied mathematician,
I wonder what you mean by "applied mathematicians like writing du/0".
I've never felt tempted to
write anything like that...

In reply to your question
about the "voluntary" examples
classes: Attendance is not (and has never been) voluntary.

Беанс said...


I think that was a tongue in cheek comment, as I enquired about the following. We had the partial differential equation U_x - U_y =0 and I had used the theorem to write this as: dx = - dy = du/0.

I was slightly thrown of course by the du/0, and during the explanation I received, that was said. (I don't want to make any applied mathematician angry now!) :p I like applied maths... (well I liked it a lot last year!)

Do you mean example classes at the university I attend?

It is funny you should mention this. I had attended a meeting of some sort, and when discussing example classes I had mentioned that they were voluntary (hence poor attendance). I think most of the staff present were quick to correct me and say that they are compulsory! Maybe this should be communicated to students in a different way?

I say this because in my first year, a few second year students always told me that it wasn't a big deal to attend example classes but to make sure that I attended the supervisions! (They contributed to my final result). I have always felt that example classes are voluntary due to this, and possibly because of the poor attendance!

If I may ask, how do you think attendance can be increased?

(That being said, I am guilty of not attending an example class today because I hadn't done the work before hand!)

Anonymous said...


you were quite right by being thrown by that "explanation" -- even applied mathematicians can't divide by zero :) I'd have another look at the method of characteristics for first
order PDEs...

And, yes, I am at your
university, so I'm positive
about the status of examples classes. At the same time, we
obviously (try to) treat
students as grown-ups who
can make up their own mind
about what's good for them,
so we may not crack down
too hard on students who miss
examples classes (or lectures
for that matter). You should
be able to judge for yourself
by what method you learn
best... (Though for some students
"learning" seems to be less
important than "passing the
exam with respectable grades"
which is obviously a totally
different ball game).

Беанс said...


Ah yes, that was the word I was looking for: characteristic! Had I known how "different" (read difficult) PDEs are, I would have further valued my time studying ODEs! I am glad to hear applied mathematicians too, don't divide by zero.

If I am being honest, I really dislike this divide so to speak between pure and applied maths. It gives people like me an excuse to sometimes use the fact that something is "applied" hence I can't understand it. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to always point out the differences, rather than the similarities (i.e. both don't divide by zero :p).

I think example classes are really useful (although personally supervisions were the best!) By being positive, do you mean that you think they are a good thing or that they are successful? Its just that the few example classes that I attend have very poor attendance. Especially considering the fact that 250 odd students are on my course, and at times only at least 10 students attend!

During example classes I never tend to be able to do work or the problem sheets (due to the groupy and casual atmosphere), hence I always go to the classes with my problems and try to resolve them by talking to the lecturers. (Which is why after my 25 minute battle with DC, I sat back and relaxed yesterday!)

Regarding your point in brackets: that is indeed a sad state of affairs. I think that many students who are studying for the sake of getting a degree and not for the maths, tend to think like that. If we did have oral examinations in this university, then them students would probably change their approach to things!

Sorry for going on, but I think it may be hard for you tell who might not be attending lectures due to magnitude of the students! (Hmmm, I was going to ask whether you prefer large or medium class sizes, but then I realised that I was assuming that you teach at the University, which I don't know!)