Friday, November 16, 2007

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

My (year 10) maths teacher's words came back to haunt me this morning. I was in quite a bad state at 7am, having failed miserably at answering any of the questions on certain stats problem sheets whilst revising. I had already had my second breakfast too, which thankfully didn't result in any toast being destroyed. My problem with PDEs had gone from "OK I can find eigenvalues, but no I don't understand the superposition concept and what Fourier series are doing here." to "THIS IS BORING". I was sick of writing, "Consider mu=0 then blah blah trivial solution. Then consider m is more than zero etc etc." Due to this I thought that I would do the final, and most important (one could say) problem sheet straight after algebra.

Where am I going with this? Well I have been awake since 3am and it is now 8:17pm. I do not have the brain power or the courage to calculate how many hours that is, but I am conking out. Do I dare use that as an excuse? I think not, for on this occasion it is my fault that I left my revision in such a disastrous situation. Anyway, just so you know I am not with it today.

In the end I actually had three breakfasts. The third when everyone else was eating, and when asked, I didn't dare mention the time that I had woken up! (No one bats an eye lid anymore, but still 3am would raise a few eyebrows). My third breakfast made me somewhat calmer and I slowly packed my stuff into my bag, ready to head into university for a 10am lecture. I wasn't feel nervous any longer, but knew what I had to do in the time I had remaining. My bag was unfortunately extra heavy today, so I had to leave most of my lunch at home. The idea was to drop my heavy load into the "store room" before my lectures, so then I wouldn't be dragging it around with me for the whole day. That didn't happen because the store room keeper wasn't in at 9:53am!

I was in the AT building at that time and guess who I bumped into today! I will give you a clue... he's another blogger. It was actually quite a different experience, but I pulled the cool calm look I hope. (Actually I jest, I was so frightened and cold that my tears actually froze...) You decide when I am jesting, but I think I spoke extra fast but this was the first time I guess. It is slightly weird meeting people who might your blog for one or two reasons. Indeed they already have an 'impression' of you and so technically speaking meeting in person isn't like meeting for the first time (although it is different). Also, depending on what you blog about they already know a lot about you. I have now spoken to at least 5 people about this blog and they all know who I am (which isn't too hard to figure I suppose!) The 5 people have read my blog at least once, but I honestly don't feel weird talking to them about it: they're proper mathematicians! (It is the other mathematicians that you have to be wary of). ;)

One thing I need to do: fix the time on my damn phone. I don't wear a watch for personal reasons (that's just my cool way of saying I don't wear one), and always use my phone. Yesterday, as I had been drinking tea and having my lunch I was sure that I saw PS making his way to the example class. Surely enough many other second year students were exiting the AT building. I was bewildered and upon checking my phone I carried on eating. I can get to the building in 5 minutes on a good day, so wasn't really concerned about being late. Anyway, finishing my sandwich I got ready to leave (with about 8 minutes to get there according to my phone). On my way there I bumped into Prof. D and as always I couldn't resist having a chat with him (he's cool). We talked about yesterday's lecture, and I was quite pleased to remind Prof. D that he was going to be away on a conference in week 10. After some time I remembered the example class so said bye to Prof D. and hurried on my way. (Did I mention that he's cool - I just remembered something funny he said about an American president with surname Ford last year. Something about him not being able to chew and walk at the same time?)

I still had two minutes to get there and I marched to my destination as quickly as I could. Upon entering the lecture room I was appalled to see that it was about 2:06pm! I was late! The same happened today as I walked to the PDE lecture (seriously contemplating whether or not to miss my first lecture this semester to revise for stats. In the end I thought a stats test was not worth missing a lecture for, but had it been a real analysis test who knows!) I confess to having the stats example sheets on my lap, but I was just trying to jot down formulas that I had learnt. I could not do the questions! The PDE lecture was... ask me another day (I followed what was being said, but the same thing has been said for the past few lectures, just variating by a small degree). So although I was doing stats at the same time, I wasn't a complete lost case.

Now onto the stats test. It didn't go bad and it didn't go great, but I am 100% sure that I answered one question correctly! (It was about a false statement, and I had identified three correct ones.) This test was multiple choice but with no negative marking. That made me feel more at ease and unafraid of "guessing". The question said a pdf f(x) = {2 for such a such values, and Y = e^X. Find its cdf.

The cdf was log X which was one of the possibilities. However it had no conditions etc on it and I chose that option - the wrong one! I had stupidly thought that if it is written with a curly bracket { and lots of conditions here, then it is a pdf, so not a cdf. I know I am pretty thick when it comes to stats; unnaturally thick I would say.

I arrived for the test just on time because I had wanted to ask the PDE lecturer a question before hand. He encouraged me to not be late, but I dismissed his concerns. I had to confess to him that I have already changed my mind about the evilness of stats and pdes. Stats is now infinitely worse, and I will tell you why. With stats you can work hard at it and learn all the definitions etc. and you might even want to visualise concepts and understand the theory. You can also do the same for PDEs; basically you can read the notes and try to tell your own story from them. With stats the story will never be complete (in my case).

You have to be clever to be able to completely understand stats, and I will now try not to say "Eugh - stats!" to any statisticians (no promises though!) I am not saying complex, real analysis, algebra, pdes etc are "easy". They are own difficult in there own right, but after a certain amount of time they will hopefully make sense. If you persevere in telling your own story, you will tell it one day. No such thing exists for stats apart from the special or "chosen ones" (i.e. Fizz and Bella). You have to have a certain type of brain for stats and I don't have it. This brain allows you to manipulate and understand the rubbish that has been given to you.

I understand the definitions and can reproduce them, but do I really understand them? Will I be able to explain them to you? Never. One reason for this could be that my stats education has been scarred from day one, and the second obvious reason being that my brain will never properly understand it due to its make up. Why am I going into this? I read the stats question and my brain said conditional expectation. I knew the result that was required but that was all. Sigh. I am hoping to have got at least 40%, even though in an ideal world I get more. Ha. I am not happy with stats, I find it pointless and meaningless and a waste of my time. Harsh words I know, and apologies to any statisticians (inc. my lecturer), but my inability to understand it has drove me this far. Do you think that one day "I will see" stats? I shudder to think about that day.

When I was revising PDEs and doing the questions, they were more systematic. In the exam I wrote a rather beautiful story out if I may say so myself! Once again, because of my stubbornness to write sentences everywhere I rushed through the last fifteen minutes. We will be getting the papers back which made me feel happy. Indeed it will be funny if spelling mistakes and grammar is corrected too, and even funnier if the maths is seen to be OK. Ideally that is, for I did make at least four silly mistakes and didn't check my work. The person who was sat next to me made my life uncomfortable to some degree, and in the end I wished that I had folded my details. (He was spending far too long looking at them, or maybe I am being suspicious because of the unease in the test?) I hated the seating arrangements for there were no gaps, and I have a natural habit of spreading out when doing maths. It was a very restrictive setting for someone like me.

The test went OK and I even wrote the thing about eigenfunctions which I had mentioned in the morning. Please someone don't tell me that was wrong? I think I may have written too much, for I could have gone from the ODE: X''=u^2X to the general solution, without mentioning the characteristic equation (i.e. m^2=u^2 iff m = \pm u). I just feel a need to write down everything I am doing (unlike Galois - which is why I am the bozo ;) ).

I forgot to mention the algebra lecture in the middle, and strangely I was awake all throughout it. I was slow when it came to copying stuff from the board, but that was for some non-trivial reason (I was wanting to see whether I could squeeze the proof on that side of the sheet!) I think the good thing about the lecture was that it wasn't a heavy one, but a light one so not too hard to digest. I didn't write the warning at the end, but it was something about not confusing the integer n for something. By the way, which do you prefer Groups or Rings? PS made the lecture entertaining as usual, and he said something which I can't write in quite the way it was said. Groups have one binary operation and rings two. It was to do with the number of wives corresponding to a binary operation ... :D

The answer 'neither' is not allowed, so I will have to be a chicken and choose groups. They seem easier! I was going to say neither because sadly I have fallen very behind in this module and need to get on track. I am lost about generators, but something about 1 being the generator for R is springing to mind?? My ignorance is really due to not spending time on the course, which should no longer happen now for there are no more coursework tests remaining!! Just got the dreaded results to look forward to. I actually cheated this week and went to the algebra example class, without having done the problem sheet beforehand! That being said, I found it did help me understand a few things but the "damn, I wish I had had a go myself" feeling was ever present.

I have now missed two examples classes so far. One which I wanted to attend, and todays ... well in my state I felt it best to get home as soon as possible and get some food down my throat. All day my heavy load had made me weary and as I went to get my cup of tea at 4ish, I heard a voice! It was the store keepers and I became confused - the store keeper was leaving it seemed, so I quickly waved my hands madly trying to attract his attention. I was spotted and taking my tea and load, I headed to the "store room". Well it is not actually a store room, but I am just utilising someones book shelf. I got really lucky for the store keeper had been leaving, and I would have been very annoyed had my burden been a pain in the back for nothing.

I am just writing random cack now. My idea was to have a horribly long post like this one, another with a neat proof and a final with an outburst. Yes - three posts! The proof though is rather tricky, but I am definitely going to hope to post it. And the outburst has been waiting for sometime. Both posts have something to do with what I discussed with DC today (to a small degree in ones case). My fingers are twitching to start typing here but I won't. Some person though did try to kill us today. I crossed the road once again without checking, and DC kept on looking at the direction the cars were coming from. Only one car had been there but the jerk driver had not slowed down, but rather sped up as we crossed the road! Gee, I was on the right side to get knocked down again.

I never seem to think that my posts are that long because I read them relatively quickly. The stress that has been on my shoulder for the past two weeks was uncountable! I thought it was due to GG, but it was namely because of the tests, and my not revising for them due to TGG (and other things). I feel unnaturally light now, and feel that I can once again start learning maths. Truth be told I have only been going to the lectures and not doing much else. As a vote in todays algebra lecture indicated, students like the 20% coursework element. However I think it is rather ridiculous that we had six tests! Couldn't we have been given a written coursework for fourier series, stats and PDEs? I know that the tests actually made me roughly revise the material up to lecture 10, but at the cost of making me fall behind for material then onwards. If we had three tests (algebra, real and complex analysis), then that would have been less stressful. It may have helped me in the long run, for my revision during Christmas might be better but the tension I was under was scary.

Tomorrow I will relax and clean my room after years, and post my two posts! (It seems that my posting routine is weird; I post more when I shouldn't...) I have a really bad feeling that I left something behind when I made tea for myself. It is just one of them lingering feelings of dread, and because I left straight after putting the stuff in the store room I didn't check. There is nothing that can be done now, but tomorrow when I unpack my bag the story might be different.

I wish this semester was never to end. :(

(And I wish that I hadn't drank tea on five separate occasions today. It is 10.25pm and I am still awake!)

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