Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"That's the difference between a mathematician and...

... and others train of thought."

I had gone downstairs a minute ago to do some printing, only to be asked the question: "How can I keep a file on the computer stored safely, so I don't have to worry about losing it?"

Scratching my head I had replied, "Email the document to yourself," only to be further questioned as to why I would suggest such a thing. I thought it was an obvious thing to do, and on occasions when I can't find a memory stick, I have emailed the information to myself and opened it this way. I shrugged and started walking away only to hear laughter and the comment of the post title being said. Shocked I turned to see Tinky Winky whinging about having said the same thing as me (eventually!), and in amazement wondered what a weird thing to be acknowledged for being a "mathematician".

Taking a quick bow, I silenced the audience before throwing myself into a speech! I made it a point to mention that every comment about me doing maths should be taken back. I doubt that will happen, for once the butt of jokes then always so. Nevertheless, this comment has made me quite happy for various reasons. The main one being that I think everyone has now realised that it's too late for me to change my degree, so instead they now decide to encourage me! (Well I think pops feels that I can actually get a good degree, but regardless of what degree I'm doing he would hate for me to do badly). Now the challenge is in convincing first myself, and then them about what I want to do next.

---

As I am sat, the ache in my legs brings a big smile to my face. It means that I didn't walk down Oxford Road and that I have a lot of walking to do before I get myself into shape again. A ten minute journey is now taking me 15-18minutes, but at least it feels great. No longer am I dodging bullets and trying to survive other pedestrians; but instead I am joyfully enjoying the bitter air biting at my face. Sigh. The thought makes me want to go for a walk!

Today I had a nice 11pm start, but unlike yesterday I was much better prepared. Entering the lecture theatre, I already started hating it. Seated I decided that I would never stop hating it-- there was no room to stretch my legs!! (It's a "two hour" lecture, i.e. two lectures straight after one another). The lighting was a bit dull too, but I am going to see whether there is another light switch somewhere.

Now imagine this scenario. Someone eg. me, has been in a prison of some sort for about 6 weeks. They have been slowly going crazy there, desperate for freedom. This suffocated individual needs some fresh oxygen. So upon being free from this prison, what do you suppose this person would want to do? Take life easy or get back into everything with a renewed passion? I know for a fact that throughout the whole of last semester, I was dying for this semester to start. So why is it that no one else seems to be sharing this train of thought? During my stint in prison, all I could think about was getting into some "proper maths" when term starts. The plague of stats and numerical analysis had me itching to do "proper maths". The plagues final disappearance has increased my desire to do some brain warming, heart pleasing maths. Something to soothe my senses.

But it seems like my lecturers have a different script to myself. I have had three relaxing lectures which although interesting and good, have me asking the question: so, and what? I think I have realised what kind of lectures I don't like very much: slow ones. I like pacy lectures, those with some goal and ambition. Not dry ones, which leave me unsatisfied. Lectures with an agenda to give me some mathematical knowledge are great. Maybe I should stop comparing every lecture that I attend to Dr. C's and Prof. S's but I can't help it. I like interactive lectures. Sigh. I know it's the first week back, but this is the second semester not the first. Our brains do not need to be lightly coaxed into learning again. Heck, our brains are desperate for this type of learning after the torture endured due to exams! Please ease my suffering and stick some maths down my throat. (And no Jake, not the notes online! I meant interactive learning. :D)

I have been restless today-- filled with a comforting energy and feeling fearless. Before you panic, I won't bounce out of the window to see whether I am fully "recovered", but my spider senses are happy. Even now I feel that euphoria flowing through my veins. Maybe the 9am lecture tomorrow will sort me out (yes my first 9am lecture!) I have decided to enjoy Monday-Wednesdays as much as possible, for Thursdays and Fridays will potentially be nasty.

After our lectures today, we sat eating lunch and just relaxing. I feel sorry for Arthur and Fizz, for they didn't complete their registration on time so the courses have become full. I did try to persuade Arthur to do logic, but he didn't seem too keen! (Even more reason to wind him up). I am reminded of the fact that I forgot to bring my Hanzo sword today. Bella ended up sitting next to me in todays lectures, and I must say she tried her hardest not to talk. For someone who can never shut up (i.e. me) I don't understand why it's difficult for people to keep quiet in a lecture. Do you ever talk during a movie?

Anyway, later on I ended up talking to the people I mentioned yesterday and have been left filled with questions. My real analysis exams did leave me depressed and it was the only exam that I didn't shout about, with a lot of hand waving. That happened today though, as I discussed the paper with DC. I told him that I had noticed how he asked for the proof for the minimum of the function, unlike the maximum which is in our notes! Meh. Even though I noticed this I still did it wrong it seems. You see this is where I went wrong: I didn't think about using limit rules, i.e the quotient and sum rule. I gave myself a big kick for that, because I tried to prove things which could have easily been done so using limit rules. I am an idiot. I had the right idea, that of looking at the right and left limit (although I definitely did not get 0.5 as the answer!) but didn't use my silly head. My attempt at that paper was filled with incomplete answers, and although I was relived to hear that I had the right idea in another question; not having completed the question was most distressing. I am thinking about causing a big fuss about being able to look at my paper, when it's been marked and all formalities are over.

After this outburst of pent up emotion, I asked the questions that I had been meaning to ask. I am just trying to widen the pool of opinions and using my personal tutors to my advantage! (It feels cool saying that i.e. three PT's.) The discussion was interesting, but it has left me slightly confused. I am in turmoil about what step to take. For too long have I avoided the situation by burying it away, but now I must do something before it's too late. Due to this discussion I forget what I wanted to say about the Galois Group. I stood looking blank for a few minutes hoping that my damn memory would return. It did return, but only when I was walking home! Pfft. Note to self: query about money and adverts.

It was my PT's turn next. (Yes I enjoy disturbing my lecturers turn by turn!) I had bumped into him during lunch and we had arranged for me to come and see him later. I got to the point, albeit in a rather mysterious way and once again he was encouraging. He mentioned ability but I was quick to correct him and say that it's all down to the amount of work you do. I dejectedly informed him that his expectations of me should not be high, for I have let myself down. This post is probably getting long, so I leave mentioning this fear of mine for another day.

My PT answered my questions and I liked his straightforwardness. I also like the way he said things as if my dreams had some solid shape. Like they were actually possible and not a figment of my imagination. I like it when people do that for it gives me a hope of some sort. Something he said made me smile, for it has been on my mind of late as well. The question I ask now is that do I let one demoralising semester decide my future? NO. I shouldn't but I can't forget how horrible the previous semester was.

My aim now is to make this semester great. I have seriously been scarred by the previous semester in ways which I cannot describe. I stopped caring for the first time in my life. This semester will decide a great many things for me, and I have to give myself the best opportunity to make a well informed decision. I lost my motivation in the first semester this year and that is what I kept on asking DC and my PT about. What if I lose my motivation again, would I survive? I can't afford to lose my motivation again, ever. Being a one-tracked person means that if I lose it, then I have no back up plan to fall upon. They both did say that if I kept away from stats and numerical analysis then I should be OK. Even today I am asking myself questions about what went wrong last semester.

I am now looking towards my personal tutors to help me find my motivation again, and hope to talk to PS about this matter again. Only he knows the real situation I face. It probably seems like I'm making a big deal about a trivial matter; but I can assure you that for me, this is no trivial matter. Until I make a decision I cannot rest.

PS: Note how I have only written numerical analysis and stats, and not applied maths. Even today I like applied maths, and so am going to try and attend Mondays mechanic lectures. Well I don't want to go to Tuesdays for they are at 9am, so this is a compromise!
[We should be getting our results sometime at the end of February I am told. :/]

4 comments:

egm said...

It's good your family is turning around now to support you. I kinda went through something similar when I said I'd ditch engineering for photography as a career. At first everyone thought I'd jumped off the deep end. But when I started producing quality stuff and getting people interested in my services, the story changed. For me, however, ditching engineering doesn't necessarily mean cutting off all contact with it. I still have tons of engineering books, as well as mathematics books. Only this time I'll be doing it as a hobby as opposed to as a career.

Jake said...

"Email the document to yourself"

I often do this because then I can access stuff from anywhere that has an internet connection.


But it seems like my lecturers have a different script to myself. I have had three relaxing lectures which although interesting and good, have me asking the question: so, and what? I think I have realised what kind of lectures I don't like very much: slow ones. I like pacy lectures, those with some goal and ambition. Not dry ones, which leave me unsatisfied. Lectures with an agenda to give me some mathematical knowledge are great. Maybe I should stop comparing every lecture that I attend to Dr. C's and Prof. S's but I can't help it. I like interactive lectures. Sigh. I know it's the first week back, but this is the second semester not the first. Our brains do not need to be lightly coaxed into learning again.

I know what you mean but we have only had the first lecture for everything so far. Aside from the usual administrative stuff that needs to be cleared out of the way before you begin, I think it is a good idea to have a slow-paced first lecture to intoduce the subject to everyone and discuss what it is, what its for, the motivation and the main objectives of the course etc.

I don't think, for example, it would have been well received if the Metric Spaces lecturer just came in and said 'Let S be an arbitrary set and d:SxS -> R be a function satisfying the following properties...' etc. I think you need to tell everyone the basics of what you are going to be doing first.

Beans said...

Hi egm, I hope you've been well. :)

It was just mainly Tinky Winky and pops, but yeah, it did make a nice change for once! They better brace themselves for what else may come though... :/

I'm glad that the photography is going great. (I have my own exclusive photo which makes me happy!) I guess everything and everyone just need time, and we ourselves need to be patient and positive, which is the hardest of the lot. That feels like a great thing to say, "doing it as a hobby". (Sorry I am in a very thoughtful mood today). I am guessing that the mathematics books aren't in tons though? ;)

Nice hearing from you.

Beans said...

Hi Jake,

You would be foolsih not to do it, what with broadband being everywhere! I have now started backing vital documents this way too, in case the computer dies as it once upon time did.

I guess I need to exercise a little patience. I just feel redundant and want to be doing something constructive. I hadn't realised, or was probably ignoring the fact that we have only had one of each lecture so far. Tomorrow though should be an exciting day! (Maybe my complaint is then directed towards to my timetable, for Monday-Wednesday, for it is very empty!)

What you said about metric spaces makes sense. (I see someone has been doing their homework though. :D)