Friday, January 25, 2008

Second year, second semester module options

That sounded like a mouthful, but what magnificent fact can be deduced about the image below?
Yes, it's true, I have not selected any probability, statistics or applied courses for next semester! I am still unsure about whether to do an applied module though (either fluid mechanics or waves and mechanics). Everything in my body is telling me to stop being stupid, but a part of me that finds applied maths fascinating, wants to do fluid mechanics. I think, had Professor Abrahams been teaching it then I would have definitely chosen it. However, maybe I am only meant to enjoy learning and being fascinated about applied maths from a distance? There is still time to change my course options, but I can't see it happening. Bella and Milo have chosen to do waves and mechanics, but even then my preference is towards fluid mechanics.

I might even attend the applied maths lectures in the first two weeks, just in case I decide to swap! Metric Spaces is a natural choice, as was Algebraic Structures 2. The thing that worries me is Introduction to Geometry, namely because I heard "div, grad curl" etc mentioned in the same breath as it. I didn't really read course descriptions beforehand and chose by process of elimination. (This ensured no stats and probability modules!) It is natural for geometry to be about div, grad curl etc. but still... (The books recommended have the title "differential geometry" which answers a few questions).

Discrete maths looks interesting and having always been a fan of Dijkstra's algorithm, I hope it doesn't bite my nose off! That leaves me propositional logic and calculus of several variables. I chose the second option because it was the only pure option remaining! However, it has been since last year that I have wanted to do propositional logic, and indeed is one which I am looking forward to the most (possibly). It is natural that before the year starts I worry about whether or not I will understand anything? Although on one hand I am excited, I still feel that I'll be having another difficult semester. I know for a fact that my geometry lecturer is cool, and have also spoken to the metric spaces and algebra 2 one (he lent me a project for my lecture). I really badly hope that my lecturers can once again motivate me to work and enjoy the course. Although it would be nice if the bias towards the lectures I enjoyed was more than 50%! (As opposed to only enjoyed algebra 1 and real analysis in the first semester from 6 modules)!

I know it's about time I "toughened up" and tried to get myself into gear, but I can't help it. I have always been inspired and motivated by my teachers, more than the course content. A brilliant teacher can always make you love something you "dislike". (cf first year, second semester applied maths lecturers and supervisor!) The only reason you ever dislike or hate something is because you are not understanding it. It's like a cycle, and if you've been in it for this long, it's hard to break it. (Actually my discrete maths lecturer is cool too, so it's only two lecturers who I have never met before...) .

So what say you about my course options? Funnily enough, I just skimmed through my post on course options in June, and I must have been barking mad to actually even consider numerical analysis. Barking MAD I tell you. That has got to be worst than stats in my opinion, and is one of the most useless *lots of not nice words* modules to have existed. Here's me being sly sly, but if you have read the above few paragraphs, why might I have not liked this subject?

\aside{Is it that hard for people to be enthusiastic about teaching? If I was not enthusiastic about teaching "something" (can't think of an appropriate subject), then my teaching of this subject would reflect my disinterest. But unfortunately the opposite is not true.}

Apart from that madness, I can't see anything else changing since June. I ask for your view on this matter (about my course units), for then you can decide what you want me to whinge about during the next few months! (Or indeed write happily about I hope...)

I'll post my timetable when I draw it up, but no Monday 9am starts is the best thing ever. (Although I will be having 9am starts on Wednesdays and Thursdays, it doesn't matter as much). Monday morning has to be the most important day for me. No longer do I hope to hear the phrase "It's Monday morning!" leave my mouth on a Monday afternoon, after walking into yet another door! (My experiment about the impact causing one to fly, seems to have been suspended for the time being...) The unfortunate thing in my timetable is the heavy bias of lectures and example classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Potentially I can have up to six hours in a row on a Thursday; and Fridays I can't remember. This sacrifice is insignificant though. If they told me to have a Monday 9am start and only 3 hours on a Thursday, I would loudly decline. Roll on Monday and a 12pm start (for this week at least)!

\second aside{ I'll write about my horrible driving lesson tomorrow; and this is a recommendation to those who do not feel queasy at the site of blood, and have possibly watched Kill Bill 2: Watch Sweeny Todd. Full stop. Is is simply brilliant (in my opinion!)}

8 comments:

Jake said...

I think the choice is the best choice but then again, I am biased because those are exactly my choices!

There will be crossovers from Vector Calc and Geometry but the thing to bear in mind is that the style of the courses are different. Vector Calc (and any other calculus) by definition is really a set of rules for calculating stuff whereas the geometry course is going to be structured from the view point of developing a theory. I suppose it is analgalous to the difference between learning the integral and differential calculi and doing a course in real analysis. Everyone is going to have a preference either way (or theoretically, I guess they may be a fence sitter!)

I haven't looked at the timetable yet but I guess I need to write it out before monday. The 12pm start on Monday sounds promising though...

Beans said...

Ha, you know what they say about great minds! :p

I had never thought of it that way, and only could think about computing the differential operators. Developing the theory does sound more interesting though, and less worrying in a sense. I think that it is important to have learnt integrals etc. before doing real analysis, so it might not be too bad. (I think I may be a bit of a fence sitter!)

Yep - Monday sounds great! (However in the second week and later, there is an example class scheduled at 10am for Algebraic Structures 2).But 10am is better than 9am any day.

Jake said...

I think that it is important to have learnt integrals etc. before doing real analysis, so it might not be too bad. (I think I may be a bit of a fence sitter!)

Well no, that isn't fence sitting, it is an opinion and I agree with you, thats an issue of pedagogy I guess. There was an interesting post on 'The Unapologetic Mathematician' (if you read that) where he talked about that. I suppose once you get to a certain level though and know how these things pan out there is a middle ground though, like our Algebra lectures for example. We started off developing the theory but stopped off after each new bit to calculate a load of examples.

Yep - Monday sounds great! (However in the second week and later, there is an example class scheduled at 10am for Algebraic Structures 2).But 10am is better than 9am any day.

Well, that isn't so bad cos Algebra is my favourite subdiscipline anyway! At least we get a 12 o'clock start this Monday anyway, I need to go and look at the time tables actually and write mine all out for next week.

Beans said...

Hi,
I read it from time to time, but not regularly. I'm glad you said that we had a lot of examples in Algebra. During the year, I recall someone mentioning that we don't get enough examples! [Hmmm, I do recall though, reading a post on Gower's Blog about using examples to teach. It really depends on the material being taught.]

I'm not sure if algebra is my favourite, hence why I am getting slightly worried. (I spoke to a second year student and many of them seemed to have found it extraordinarily hard!)I'll be posting the timetable in a minute or so...

Jake said...

Bad news... it works out that Thursday is 5 straight hours from 9am until 2pm.

How come I used to routinely do that in paid employment without a second thought but at university I find myself thinking that that is tough going?

Beans said...

I know. :(

At university that means we have to have our brain switched on for them 5 hours! Not saying that you don't during employment, but active learning probably requires your brain to work harder... Also it seems that the lectures are spread about everywhere! (We could always eat during example classes I suppose.)

Sigh. Friday is rather full too, but at least we have gaps in between. I guess they felt they were too generous giving us a lunch time start on Monday!

Jake said...

I'm not sure if algebra is my favourite, hence why I am getting slightly worried. (I spoke to a second year student and many of them seemed to have found it extraordinarily hard!)I'll be posting the timetable in a minute or so...

I think it is going to be the easiest course of the six. There are course notes up on the web and it seems that there is more material to go through so the pace will probably be slightly quicker but I think that is I think people will find the material interesting and it will keep up the momentum.

Most of the people I have spoken to in our year group seem to have found last terms algebra course the easiest.

Beans said...

I'm not sure about this course being the easiest of the lot! I hadn't realised the notes were already up, but having skimmed through the first page I am reminded that I must put my head down this semester. (Also that the Monday example class isn't as important to attend as Fridays, so 12pm Mondays seems to be confirmed!)

Many people did find Algebra easy because we had covered areas of it in our first year. It was a nice pleasant course, but I feel that I have not yet reached a good level of understanding of it. I don't know what I'm trying to say (sleep is overcoming me), but I don't think I know the jargon of algebra yet. Artificial understanding sounds like the correct phrase.

But yeah, Algebra 2 definitely looks interesting though. Hopefully everything will come together soon. These past few comments have made me more eager for term to start now! For too long had we been suffocated by certain nonsense in our first semester. :p