Friday, January 04, 2008

My punishment

My post about maths text books didn't go down to well with the authors. I will still stand by what I said, which is what caused all the authors to unite and conspire against me! Don't pretend you don't know what I am talking about! You were waiting for a chance for revenge and I guess my comments were the final trigger.

For those who don't know what has happened, then sit yourselves down.

Today was going to be one of my most brilliant days of the 300 odd left in the year. Namely because I was going to be revising Real Analysis today - FINALLY. Yes, I have given up with complex analysis and the fundamental theorem of algebra's proof. (Note to self: Louiville's theorem says that if f is differentiable everywhere in the complex plane and bounded, then f is constant). My excitement for doing some interesting maths, was found out. They don't want me to enjoy revision and enjoy my suffering. Hmph

In my previous post I said I wasn't going to be posting for a week. I wouldn't have posted had I not been in bed all day! Well for most of day. Last night was officially the coldest night of the year. I had been wrapped up in a billion blankets (thanks to my mum, who still insists upon a bed), but nevertheless I woke up on three separate occasions yesterday. My nose wanted me to chop it off! The second time I woke up, I had checked the clock. It was 5am. Annoyed at myself I turned over and tried to sleep again. What did I see when I had my eyes closed? SERIES AND INTEGRALS. AHHHHHH.

It was another one of them weird moments. I felt, at 5am, that I couldn't sleep until the series and integrals disappeared. The only way that could happen was it I could solve them, which I couldn't. I don't know when I eventually nodded off, but surprisingly didn't wake up when I was meant to. It was 11am when life reentered my body, but I couldn't get out of bed. I was freezing cold; my nose wanted chopping off again, and my throat was swollen. It was due to the throat that I knew I was in for it. I didn't get out of bed till past lunch time, and that only because I had a driving lesson today.

My mum told me to rearrange it for another day, because I had started behaving like a four year old (as opposed to my normal seven year old self!) I insisted that at 3pm I would be feeling better, and it had already been rearranged from last time. Getting out of bed at 1ish meant that my whole morning had been wasted for revision. I was more upset that I couldn't revise real analysis than I was about being ill. I have been feeling cold and clammy all day, and looking at food makes me want to vomit, which isn't a good thing. Hence why I have been eating weetabix everything I have been hungry. (It's not very filling though).

Unfortunately, the sad fact is that I haven't been able to revise all day. This has greatly pained me, hence why I have wanted to thank the authors for wishing this upon me! (Don't even think about denying it... I have my sources!) Sigh. I think I now must take one day at a time and not think about when I must complete a certain module by. Today was meant to be one of the best days of the year (as I previously said), but it has been one of the most rubbish days ever. I am trying hard to be positive now, about actually passing any exams, but that is indeed a difficult task. Contradicting what I have said just now, I am hoping to only spend four days on real analysis. Namely because I have hopefully worked throughout the year on this course and it should just be revision, and not learning (apart from a few topics that weren't understood, like the composition of limits and parts of integration).

It makes me sad to even think about the intermediate value theorem or Rolle's Theorem. I am itching to get into them! Today I actually did have paracetamol and didn't let myself do what I normally do when I fall ill. (Well I did all this after 2pm when I realised I had to drive in an hour!)

The lesson in case you are wondering was not very good. Understandably for I haven't had one in three weeks! However I think apart from the "turning in the road" I did OK. I had warned my instructor before hand that I wasn't going to be with it today. So it was understood when I drifted into the middle of the road, or forgot that I was driving and zoned out for a second. (Only to be brought back with the comment: You've gone mad haven't you!) My instructor said something along the lines that I am normal. I laughed and then said that the image that popped into my head was being normal to a curve at a point (which I demonstrated using the wheel). This made the ADI sharply withdraw the comment and say: normal in the weirdest way possible! I did say thank you for that comment too. Normal pfft! I wonder what they will be saying next?

My turning in the road is messed up because I "rush things" i.e. the story of my life. As you have probably gathered I am an everywhere bean. Here one second and then bouncing out of the window the next. (Well that is a speculation which I encourage, but if you have your eye brows raised, then read the sentence as: here one second and there the other). I did a lot of coasting today, but that because normally I turn in first gear. This time I was trying my bestest to change gears whilst turning. So clutch down, second gear...... and the clutch stays down whilst I turned! I always bring the clutch up too fast when after changing to second, so I thought it was best to bring it up after I had straightened the car. Not the best of ideas I have had, but it was a good plan whilst it lasted. My observations were slightly on the down side today, and I was going to turn right after only one glance. However (thankfully) someone else slammed the brakes on.

I did warn you that I have been heavy headed! Any other major points before I mentioned how I nearly died? Oh yeah, I seem to want to turn right or left in third gear! I don't brake enough, but that is once again due to me rushing things, and not being calm. Oh and I was trying to find bite before moving off and I couldn't. I kept on asking my instructor whether I had found it and I was continuously told no. I gave my instructor a quizzical look, only to be told to check what gear I was in. Looking at the gear box I saw that I was in neutral! Dang. Most embarrassing, but I had my excuse!

For those who bounced out of their chairs when I talked about nearly dying (not with joy I hope!) I will give you a moment to sit down. Calm? Well I was driving myself home again, when I stopped at some traffic lights. I had my car ready at bite (for I know these traffic lights) and was ready to move off again. The lights turned green and I moved off, following straight ahead. I was doing OK until the following happened:The blue car is my car going upwards. The grey car was going down, and the red car? That stupid stupid car was driving straight at me! He had come into my lane and I had honestly been shocked. I didn't know what to do but carry on driving. My instructor though, had reached for the wheel but I had kept hold of it. The red car somehow managed to squeeze through that gap, and my instructor had merely wanted to honk the horn at him. That kinda threw me off I think, for after that I did a few silly things. I had just wanted to get home as soon as possible, and didn't use my head.

Anyway I lived to tell the tale! Since coming home though, I have been out of it. I want to do some real analysis but my head has been weighing 16 tons. (Hence this post). I will not mention what I will try to do tomorrow, but I hope I am feeling better. It stinks being ill during exam and revision period. The best thing about being ill though is sneezing. That is a fantastic sensation. I hate coughing, but sneezing is great! Atchoo.


Anonymous said...

Excellent point.

Gone are the days when books had solutions at the end.

This is even more evident in Advanced Math books.

Solutions at the end of the books, help clarify approach, improve Math skills and help gain confidence. It is more fun to do Math when there is a feedback right after you solve a problem.

Otherwise excellent book that falls into this error is "Linear Algebra Done Right" by Sheldon Axler. The book has no solutions and his web site has a link that allows emailing of solutions to Instructors - presumably Instructors can set their exams and assignments from the questions in the book. Such a sad thinking. This makes Instructor's life easy - but leaves students in a vacuum. It should be other way. Instructors, being experts in this field shouldn't be needing solutions. Students do!

Beans said...

Hi anonymous,

Someone who agrees! I also agree with whatever you have said. Solutions also allow one to sometimes grasp concepts and they "may" enhance understanding.

Especially at university level maths, a student attempts the problems because they want to. (I didn't mention that they want to make instructors life easier, but this definitely does not help students).

Next time I go to the library or a book shop, I am going to look at the back of the book first!

I had a rant about this last year too!

Anatoly said...

I don't agree with your opinion on solutions. While having a solution to learn from is useful, you can learn this at the lesson and from the proofs of theorems in the book.
It would be nice to have partial solutions in the book for some questions, but I suspect that having full solutions to all the exercises would have a negative impact.

Beans said...

Hi Anatoly,

A solution provides feedback of some sort, which I believe is vital in maths education.

My point is for those questions which we do ourselves, to supplement our knowledge. I do attend example classes and discuss problems with my lecturers there, however now it is the end of term. Lessons are over so how do I then get feedback on the extra questions I want to do, to check my understanding of a topic?

Proofs help up to a certain point. I understand a few proofs but when it comes to using them I sometimes have no idea! I also wouldn't mind partial solutions, but just some solutions!

What kind of a negative impact do you mean? I thought of this myself, but then it came to me that the education system is different in the UK. We don't get assignments questions from books (as in the states I think) worth a certain percentage. Hence the only reason I buy books, is for the extra questions amongst other things!

Tom said...

I don't understand why they don't have solutions either. How can you check if you have done something correctly if there isn't a solution.

On the other hand I can see if it is being used in a class to set the work having the solution means people can cheat. But certainly if you are getting a book to work on yourself to revise having solutions to me seems critical.

Beans said...

I think the authors are just being lazy! *runs for cover again*

The book I mentioned, Fundamentals of Mathematical Analysis by Rod Haggarty, has an exercise after a small section eg section 5.1. The answers to this small exercise and all other small exercises are at the back of the book.

However, at the end of chapter five, there is another page of really mean questions. No solutions are provided for them, but one hopes that due to knowledge and understanding gained from the previous exercises, the final one should be interesting. This policy can be adapted where the work is a book.

I do like to complain about this, but I think I have a valid point. For stats I have tried to understand the material but not done any questions. (Namely due to lack of solutions). Hence why I still lack a proper understanding of the material and are unable to answer questions.

(I am glad though, that some people agree with me!)