Saturday, May 31, 2008

Poetry and Topology

Below are two poems which I found more interesting and entertaining than metric spaces. Why does that module seem to be the most uninteresting one of the semester? It has been three days and I have done no revision whatsoever. I have though, had a few school reunions and behaved as I would if it was the end of my exams. I refuse to blame myself though... (that's a lie actually, but this subject is honestly draining what life I have out of me!)

I flicked through one of the books today, and got carried away as usual and read about unconnected topics. I don't want to say it, but the subject is very boring hence my lack of enthusiasm towards revision. However, perhaps having three days left will apply some much needed pressure which will make me start revising. Sigh. Hopefully I will be ready for the exam on this occasion.

So to the two poems:

A mathematician confided
That a Moebius* strip is one sided
And you get quite a laugh
When you cut it in half:
In stays in one piece when divided.

The topologist's child was quite hyper
Till she wore a Moebius diaper.
The mes on the inside
Was thus on the outside:
It was easy for someone to wipe her.

Unfortunately I can't credit them to anyone, because I don't know who! However, they are what has kept me breathing. (These poems have stopped me from thinking that studying topology will be like studying metric spaces i.e. ...)

*Moebius= Möbius

An interesting question

More importantly this silly question is one which I can't answer. First some history though, as to why I will be posting an A Level maths question in two ticks.

Before I went on holiday, a friend of mine from school/college bumped into me in town. We enquired as to how the other was, and then I was asked whether I would consider helping someone with their AS level maths. I was reluctant and said that I will think about it, so we just exchanged details and left it at that. However the day before I left for my holiday, I had a voice mail message asking the same question. So I replied by asking my friend to get in touch with me after I returned (in case they found someone else).

Upon my return a prompt email found itself in my inbox, and so began my journey of helping my friends niece with her AS Maths. Her mother was willing to pay £15 an hour, but I thought that since this was my first time doing such a thing, and it was a favour, £12.50 would be reasonable. So she started coming to my house on Saturday and Sunday for an hour and I helped her with her maths. On her first visit we drew up a list of topics which included trigonometry, sequences and series, the binomial expansion, etc.

I didn't really know what was expected of me in this role, but I soon realised that it was no easy job. Today was the last time she came because her exams on Monday, but boy has it been difficult. I would say that her lack of enthusiasm for maths was her biggest barrier, coupled with the fact that she very easily lost her confidence and motivation.

I had to swot up on A level maths again, and not all of it was easy. I hate trigonometry, namely the CAST diagrams and I also didn't like sequences (which the question below happens to be about!) The job required a lot of patience indeed, however I think I enjoyed it. Well I enjoyed it enough to do it again. I can't really write much else about what I have learnt by doing this (etc) since I have a massive, crunching headache and I'm typing with one hand! However, if I was to do it again the price will definitely change-- I have since been told that £12.50 was a complete and utter bargain! (Quite a lot of people are charging £22 per hour for A level tuition...) I think £18 an hour seems reasonable, but hey, I don't think I will ever do this again. It was just a favour (which gave me some money to buy the maths books from the Springer sale--woohoo!)

So the question (without a calculator by the way!) which is really bugging me is:

A sequence is defined by the recursion relation,

u_{n+1}= \sqrt{ \frac{u_n}{2}+ \frac{a}{u_n}} n=1, 2, 3...

Given a=20 and u_1=3 find u_2, u_3 and u_4. Giving your answers to 2 decimal places.

We have an expression for u_2 but how the heck are you meant to give it to 2dp? I have missed something vital and it will hit me soon, but not soon enough. So if anyone has any ideas, please put me out of my misery!

I think I really enjoy teaching, but it is damn hard work. Preparing lessons, finding good questions, marking work and you have to be on the ball yourself otherwise you get "the look", which I am famous for giving myself! (I think, having been somewhat a difficult student myself (in the sense that I can be really dumb at times) I tried to cover all hurdles etc that I faced.) It is the challenging aspect of it which I find appealing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Students "had hints" before exams

The BBC article - Students "had hints" before exams - was skimmed through by me, however I found this comment of interest:

The same continues at university, some lecturers run "focused revision sessions" while others simply re-use exam papers. I had one exam this year which we noticed the lecturer recycled the papers on a 4 year cycle, so no surprise when I sat down in the exam hall to find what was effectively a carbon copy of the 2004 paper on my desk. It's an absolute joke!
Richard, Bristols

Exams are suffocating, but one thing they make you do is to actually try and understand the material. I like that. What I learnt about logic in two days, I haven't learnt for the past 12 weeks! (Well let us say 7 or 8, since I did try to be a "good student" in the first four weeks of term). If we were given say fortnightly tests during the year to test our understanding, then that would probably do wonders for us. (That is why, apart from this year, I am all for coursework tests.)

If we didn't have exams would there be any other way to get students to study and learn? I can't think of anything on the top of my head, but when we talk about maths exams, oral exams will inevitably pop up. I think that if oral exams are too scary (which they are) then some form of supervision should be there for students. In a meeting last semester, someone said that universities in England are "nanny types". Compared to say other European universities, we have more contact time with out teachers. (I can't remember his exact words so correct me if I am wrong). Supervisions, like in my first year, will give lecturers an opportunity to how much we actually know.

I realise that example classes are there, but they are not the same. They have there benefits if used correctly. Sigh. I suppose I liked supervisions...

Back to exams! How much of the material that I "crammed" in two days did I understand? How much could I post about this minute in time? Well I could possibly post about half of the course, and for the part on proofs and afterwards I will become stuck. (I didn't even bother learning the last five lectures--Schur's Theorem, what the heck?!)

Now in an oral exam, my fractured understanding would be visible and I could do badly. However, in a written exam, where papers are recycled after four or five years, you could score full marks.

I don't think there's anything wrong with revision lectures, because most tend to go through questions on problem sheets or review topics that people ask for. (It varies lecturer to lecturer--some go through the past paper etc).

The point in the comment quoted above that I... erm, "comment on" is the recycling business of papers. Lecturers can be heard saying: "I don't post solutions online because the papers will be recycled soon, and I don't want to find the solutions online." Me being the nutter I am, was actually tempted to post the solutions to such past papers! Yes, they give revision lectures where solutions are given, but I don't like this recycling business. Say I do put the solutions online, and in four years time someone finds them? That's 100% for that person then!

That's enough random babble from me. (I haven't slept yet, but I suppose this was my rant because solutions to past papers aren't available.) Got a damn phone call to make and then sleep.


I once commented to someone, that I respect people who do their jobs properly; be it a bus driver or the guy who checks your train ticket. It is tempting to expand on that, however I will resist on this occasion for other matters are more important! (So says the bean).

That being said, I found myself wondering why exam invigilators sometimes take their job too seriously. I know that their job is important, but the 5 minutes that we were made to "stop and listen" to instructions, (which I didn't do) we could have filled the front of the answer booklet out. I mean if there does happen to be a fire, the first thing I'm going to do is find my bag. That's natural instinct and no matter what is said before hand, my instincts won't change. (Unless of course the fire has surrounded my bag, in which case I will be extremely angry!)

Anyway, thankfully this semester my exams have been in the Renold building (just near my precious mss building!) and near the library too. So I casually strolled to the exam hall, munching on my apple without a care in the world. (Well I was thinking about damn Beth tree rules, but let us not ruin the mood now.) Entering the Renold building I was pleased to see that a lot of people were actually outside the exam room, which meant that I wasn't the only person turning up on time. (Well I was actually 5 minutes early--would you believe that? Oh, and no one has told me that we should be there 15 minutes before the start...)

Heading outside C16 (I think) I crouched near a pillar and removed my tools for the exam: a calculator which wouldn't be used, lots of pens and pencils, and the other things you tend to take. I was still very casual because many people were standing outside, but this calmness didn't last very long. I noticed a lecturer from the department standing next to a table, and then it hit me: today was a A Level Mathematics revision day organised by the University! So all the students standing outside were A Level students, and not people from my logic class. Still, I wasn't late, but I did gulp before entering the room...

Rightly so too, for it was then that the invigilators attacked all "people who were not late"! A bemused expression floated around my face, as I tried to determine where my seat was (obviously not paying attention to what was said). I was rather happy with myself, when I successfully realised the system of numbering from where I was told to "stop"; and when the lights went green I quickly sat down.

The exam began and ended in the same light. It was a big rush. An error ridden rush. I forgot to check my Beth Tree, and when I did, I spotted a crucial mistake! However I only corrected what was incorrect, but didn't see how it affected the rest of the answer. You won't be surprised to hear that I did not finish the paper and did not check my answers (Dr. C will not be happy to hear that....)

As dangerous plans go, the one I had conspired for today was the most dangerous. The idea was to get as many marks as I could in section A because section B was close to impossible. When it comes to adequacy I become stuck and the completeness theorem and myself had a falling out not so long ago. I knew that if I was going to get any marks on section B, it would be on the question about proofs. (I had planned to only attempt that one question in section B, and not really make a serious attempt on the adequacy one). In an hour or so I had finished section A (well what I could do, the 17 marker was nasty!) That left me an hour for the proof. After 25 minutes I was still trying to do the proof question (Give a formal proof of (¬(p^¬q) |- ¬p v q) where "^" is and, and you're meant to join the lines in the middle up).

I realised it was futile to continue and that my dangerous plan had failed. Hence I ended up trying the adequacy question, but I seriously had no idea what to do. I wrote the definition down so that should give me at least one mark! (Perhaps I should have just memorised the answer on one of the past papers?) Anyway come the last 15 minutes I find myself in a bad situation. I haven't got anything to show for section B after 45 minutes of "thought". It was at this stage that I think some pray of mine got answered! With a sudden desperate burst, I tried to jot down the proof that I felt was right. Working at that pace meant mistakes were inevitable. Five minutes to go--where's the mistake? GAH--just copy the whole thing out again and forget checking your answer!! As pens downs was announced I copied the final line but still couldn't find the mistake.

It I hadn't had that sudden burst at the end for the proof question, I would be devastated now. My answer was perhaps wrong, but I'm filled with another dangerous substance now: hope. Perhaps it was right? If it was then my dangerous plan of only doing section A might still work... So the thoughts continue to toy with me.

On a positive(?) note, it is over now--not on my terms, but there is no sense in repeating how I wish I had actually been a good student this year. That's not going to change anything. I have a week now (well 5 days because I'm going to "take it easy" for a day or two) to prepare myself for the final exam. Please let this one be the one pulls my stinking average up. A part of me still wants me to meet my real expectations, but that hopeful part is dying fast.

So this is the first actual post mortem I have done for an exam this year. Having woken up at 2:30am, I think I like it when I hit the hyper stage of my mood. Now though, I have slumped and I am not allowing myself to go to sleep until 9pm (ish). The hyper stage will return again which should be fun... (I find myself "not in full" control of my actions in this hyper stage, as the woman on the bus stop will confirm, after I missed the bus! I was busy playing with the camera on the phone and missed it).

By the way, the dentists are evil. They have sent me an appointment for my birthday. Ha. Like I'm ever going to go to it! (Well I actually have the silly SAS so I have to send my apologies... another time perhaps?)

Perhaps you have realised that they hyper stage is just round the corner! I want to do something "extreme". Not in the dangerous sense... in the different sense. Any ideas on what I can do? It seems that quotes are a nice way to shut me up (or poems) and as coincidences go, I have one to do with age:

Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.
- Groucho Marx

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"I will derive."

A pleasant break in revision thanks to ZeroDivides! (Not that I was actually revising, but that's another question.) I'm sure I spotted my calculus book in that video...

Monday, May 26, 2008

I is eating your cheeze burger!

The other day as I waited for the bus home (actually this was last Friday after the Algebra exam!) I saw a funny scene. I happened to have my camera on me but only managed to take two photos with it. (Namely because some not nice people came and occupied the bus stop causing me to move out.)

Anyway, I was hoping to post this in the style of them cat pictures you see online nowadays, however time is not something I have plenty off! So the lame title was supposed to be the caption.
Thankfully though my phone came to the rescue, as I continued to watch the scene:
Yep--that's six pigeons, and only one burger! (Weird things to tend to amuse me...) The pigeons were very nice though (or perhaps very hungry) for as I inched closer to them they didn't fly away. (The daming thing of the camera phone is that the zoom isn't as great as the cameras).

I didn't bluetooth that photo to everyone... honestly!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Writing things down

The following quote had me laughing, namely because it is very true (in my case!)

I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote it down on.

-Beryl Pfizer

I have actually done on that on a few occasions, and I'm still searching for one such paper! (I think I won't find it because when I got my wallet out of my pocket, I'm sure it fell on the floor).

Anyway, the lesson I learnt from that was to write the lists on bigger paper; however then it gets confused with your notes (etc) and you end up putting it somewhere you forget. (Or leaving it in someone elses office, and then being grateful when it is rediscovered!)

So it seems that perhaps we should use coloured paper for these lists? (It depends on what type of list of course. If I want to remind myself to do something upon waking up, then I just stick a paper on my desk with the list of things that needs doing. However for the lists I sometimes carry around with me (telling me who I need to see and to put the kettle on for refreshments etc) it really is horrible when they are misplaced.)

A note on revision for logic: it still has to happen, but I have two days which has to be enough. I got told of by Noddy for not revising today, but I have had the most gruesome of headaches you see. When I was deciding second year options, I was told something along the lines that in logic you either get it or you don't. I don't. Rather than wondering which exam has been my favourite, all my papers are fighting to be my worst ones. (At the moment it is a tie between algebra and discrete, but since my discrete coursework was worse that has the advantage). Sigh.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Principle Ideals

Once upon a time (in a nursery rhyme), I asked readers for the definition of the compliment of an open set. However today I will do no such thing about "Principle Ideals".

From school (and recently when I met my English teacher) I remember being told: the principal is your pal. Hence, whenever I used that word I made sure never to write principal, for we tend to say head teacher anyway.

During the algebra course this semester, we were told about these evil things called ideals. The word "principal" was always written on the board to describe the principal ideal, but I always wrote "principle ideal" on my paper. Namely, because I thought the lecturer had made an error, and because of the fact that the ideal was not my "pal". I had intended to ask Prof. P about this but never got round to it (thankfully one could say, but I will probably tell him about my stupidity anyway!)

Today, whilst faffing about of course, I came across the following heart breaking, demoralising paragraph:

"A principle is an underlying idea, or a moral belief, etc. A principal is either a Head (e.g. a sort of Head-teacher); or an adjective describing the most important thing, “The principal point in this lecture is…”"

That is a lot of egg on my face I must say! I won't be going through my notes and writing principal, but it is a lesson learnt for the future. (I do found this rather funny though!)

As I lick my wounds, I will leave you with a possibly pleasant quote by the French writer Buffon:

"Le style est l’homme même: style is the man himself."

Provisional Birthday List

I figured that I deserved the day of today, namely because of the horrible stress I was under during the week. Perhaps I shouldn't have done this, given the fact that I really could do with revising in advance for the next exam. However I have three days for that, and one day off to actually feel the bright, intoxicating sunlight on my face, can't be that harmful. (To make myself feel slightly better, I did sort my Logic file out only to realise that I have a lecture missing!)

As I was sorting my book shelf (putting all the algebra books away and finding the logic one), I realised that I used to have two books which are no longer there. These books were library books of course, but I unfortunately had to return them. They were nice maths books which you always want on your bookshelf, and this give me an idea about what to put on my birthday list. So that makes it five things now, and I can definitely assure you that I won't be getting any of the books! (What I then tend to do is, buy the books anyway and claim they were a present... ;) )

1) Pro Evolution Soccer 2008

This ones for the holiday after my exam! One of the best football games around in my opinion.

2) Binary Clock

I was actually interested in a binary watch, but when I pointed out to someone that I don't wear watches but still want it, they suggested a binary clock! A brilliant suggestion might I add, because currently I use Noddy's gigantic watch as a clock for my room! (It is quite big I must add, and I don't know how people can wear them without feeling weighed down on one side...)

3) How to Solve it - G Polya

A book that really should be on my shelf.

4) What is Mathematics? R Courant  H Robbins

I could have bought this book with the amount of money I ended up paying the library! (More than £11.00).

5) A guide to LaTeX -- Kopka

If I get my own copy of this, I won't have to always knick Dr. Coleman's.

That's enough of that now. Leon or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-- which to watch is what's more important!

Today was the first time in ages that I slept for about 11 hours! This is the way life should be -- stress free. (I lie obviously, but it is nice to take time off and unwind; especially if you have forgotten what exactly you were meant to do! )

Friday, May 23, 2008

If onlys

The past 36 hours have been exhausting for me. This morning I was up by 2:30am and trying to complete my revision. (I was finishing section 6 and starting section 7). Section 6 was on... I can't say it due to the reminder of the mistake I made in the exam. Anyway, this morning I decided not to revise the last section on normal subgroups etc. Well I knew about homomorphisms in groups from last semester, and I did not care much about orbits, stabilisers and conjugating things. It all looked nice on paper, but it wasn't going in my head.

I knew there was going to be a section B question on section 8 and I made the decision not to do it (all part of the dangerous plans!)

After the exam, my "hyperness" kicked in. I hadn't eaten since morning and hadn't slept as well--the perfect ingredients for me to lose the little control I can lie about having. I wish I had stayed like that (and stayed numb) and in the "ach who cares" mood. Now though, as the past days wear and tear takes its toll on me, I feel depressed. The exams depression is settling in now. It's funny, that when you let your expectations down intentionally, you lose a lot of stress and care. On hindsight, perhaps I shouldn't have allowed myself to think that it is OK if I don't do as well as I can and should. I don't know which word to place the stress on: can or should?

Sigh. This depression is welcome, for perhaps it will give me the push I need. The push on my expectations. I once again expressed surprise to my Dad, that I haven't had a panic attack since my calculus exam. Perhaps falling ill straight after my calculus exam has something to do with this "absolute lack of care", but it feels weird. Not caring has a certain freedom with it, but then why do these depressing thoughts haunt me?

If onlys(?) are for losers. Losers like me, who after an exam wonder what could have been the outcome, had I revised section eight and a few other topics which I just skimmed over. I know there is no point in mulling over this now, but funnily I actually think algebra isn't too bad now. Active learning of a topic sometimes brings the "wow" side of the topic out. That being said, I can't see myself actively looking to study further algebra modules, namely because I stink at algebra. My brain seems to prefer systematic learning, and to me algebra seems about a lot of inspirational connections and random thoughts forming the pathway.

During my pathetic revision yesterday and this morning, the one thing I have accepted is that algebra is going to be my worst mark (unless discrete and logic beat it!) Come on Beans. Build the damn bridge.

OK enough about exams. I received an email the other day, which translates into the following: I need to "raise" or get £100 from somewhere but my own money. That is the way I am translating the information, and I must say that I am somewhat annoyed. The IMA has nothing to do with the blimmin Galois Group, so why should any decision to do with TGG be connected with the IMA?

I am being very stubborn, hence you have my version of the translation. My stubbornness has always got me into tight situations, and I won't give up until I can't see any solution. I will get that £100 and I will show them that .... I don't know--just some big fancy words that I can't formulate! I don't know who to vent my frustration on, but boy am I determined to get that £100. Notice the repetition (it really is an "impossible" task you see.) I haven't replied to the email yet because my frustration would then be directed at the wrong person. Hopefully I will cool down by the weekend and then reply, because I don't want to go around upsetting people!

So anyone have any bright ideas on how I can raise £100? Perhaps I should do another sponsored silence (my voice is back by the way!!) Whatever ideas you have, please do let me know, for in this battle against the silly conditions that have been given to me I can't fail. Another fierce sigh escaped me... I shouldn't let this get to me, and should rationally reply to the email and perhaps renegotiate the conditions. Yes-- that sounds like a nice plan. Once I have cooled down I am going to try to renegotiate the conditions to my terms. If that is unsuccessful, I have at least 3 months to get that £100 in the summer (which won't have any silly conditions attached to it.)

I don't think I like the IMA any more, although I have filled the form in to become a student member!

You are probably in the league with the many people who are telling/forcing me to stop thinking about things like this at the moment. However HOW do I do that? "You should constantly be thinking of revision and your exams" they tell me. Is that really possible? "You think about too many things--concentrate on your exams and stop worrying about this at the moment."

OK, they're all probably correct but this is more fun that revision. It felt like my exams were over today, given the stress this week gave me due to the three exams I had. Three exams in one week--that's a first I must admit. But I mustn't grumble, as I recall a lecturer telling me that he used to sit three hour long papers and something else which I can't remember.

No one is going to wake me up tomorrow morning. My phones are going to be dead too! All I can do now is hope for the best for the exams I have sat. I did see Prof P after the algebra exam (he's cool by the way) and thankfully he didn't get scared when I said I wasn't having pleasant thoughts towards his exam. (I was in my excited state, in chemical terms). I told him about my problem with not finishing this paper too, but that was coupled with the fact that I couldn't do the questions that I hadn't revised for and my waffly writing. Hopefully Prof P is marking the papers, for otherwise the marker might not take too kindly to my small "sorry" after half a page of monstrous scribbling out. I let Prof P go unhurt with our exam papers, but that's because he's cool. ;) (Yes, he walked right past me with the exam papers and I didn't even say boo.)

Wait--wasn't I meant to be sleeping?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mathematics Education Research Blog

I am posting a link of a blog I found today: Mathematics Education Research Blog.

Obviously I am not going to read through it today (I have an exam tomorrow--boohoo), but it definitely looks interesting. (I have a few other comments about maths education, but I'm sure you can be patient for another few days!)

I must add that it is very tempting to browse through that blog. (Anything but revision sounds appealing!)


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


"Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now."

Hear hear.

I can't keep my eyes open due to the football. Why does it feel like a blue day already?

Guidance on the use of blogs and wikis

As found on the University's website:

The use of interactive and multi-authored webpages which characterises blogs, wikis and social networking sites is increasingly popular. While the University does not wish to bar access to and use of such sites, you [1] must first consult with your supervisor, mentor or line manager in order to discuss the possible implications of participation in these sites. In particular you should note that by publishing preliminary results, data and ideas in this way:

  1. You may be putting the independence and originality of your work at risk, and there may be adverse effects when the work is submitted for examination and/or publication.
  2. You risk losing the ownership of your work with unforeseen consequences for the intellectual property rights relating to results or products deriving from this work.

Graduate Education Team

Research Office

January 2008

[1] The use of the term 'you' refers to postgraduate researchers and research staff

Springer Yellow Book Sale and the Library

Firstly I will mention the library. It seems that when people are upset or not there usual self, they act out of character and might have do various things to make themselves feel better. It seems that I either have a kick about outside, play Resistance Fall of Man (or any other good game on the console), or buy a (mathematics) book. Yesterday after my exam I wasn't feeling too great, and having already bought a book last week, I headed to the library to return a book. (I couldn't exactly play on the console or football you see).

At the library somebody called me (I officially hate phones as of today):

"Why are you whispering?"
"I'm in the library. Bye."

Then later, on my way home,

"Why did you go to the library?"

If I could roll my eyes (successfully) I would have. The person couldn't even see my physical distress due to their comment. HELLO--why do people go to the library? Sigh. I'm not even going to bother replying to that question.

I ended up taking five books out, most about general mathematics and one on algebra. They were heavy but I made it home in one piece.

It's my birthday soon (I'm turning eight this year) and I have been asked what I would like. As you can imagine, I'm not the easiest person to get a present for. I'm not really concerned about my birthday this year, so its definitely not going to be a big affair; however I have to make this list. My family refuse to buy me any more maths books, for they claim I'm going to go crazy--if only they knew the truth! Anyway I digress, I'm in the process of making a list but I honestly don't know anything cool that I would like. (Four years maybe?!)

Sometime ago I spotted the catalogue for the Springer Yellow Book Sale in Dr. C's office. (There's something about the word sale that stands out to students!) I took the catalogue and had an inquisitive look through it, but soon put it to one side and forgot about it. However, recently I decided to actually do something about "finding my cup of tea" in maths, and surprisingly found the catalogue again. I browsed through it purposefully and went about trying to get hold of the books I wanted.

The books are hardback by the way, and I actually prefer hard back to paper back (but since they are obviously more expensive, I end up buying the paper back ones!) One of the books is by Tom Apostol(?) and the others I can't remember. I got them pretty cheap I must admit (there's five of them) and even though they might never be used by me they are damn cool! (I do hope to actually make use of them though).

So if you are looking for cheap-ish, hardback maths books you know where to find them (till 31st July). I actually saved up for these, and if I had the money and my "insensible" head glued on, I would probably buy more. (When it comes to buying books I tend to forget about my bank balance.) Sigh. I think I need a bigger book shelf though (what with the twenty odd free books that my PT gave me last semester).

I can't be bothered to revise for algebra, hence this post. Today was actually a fun day-- is that allowed? I saw all my PTs and the first question everyone asked me was "what's happened to your voice?"! Worry not though, for it is getting better. (I hate hearing myself speak though, for I sound rather stupid in my opinion...) Maybe because I am expecting Algebra to be my worst exam, I can't be bothered to actually revise for it. Who knows? I have done nothing today. Seriously. Factor rings make my head hurt, but I am thinking of skipping them and doing polynomials first and then going back to factor rings tomorrow when my heads more fresh.

A life without exams seems really hard to imagine at the moment.

PS: Come on you reds!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Three down...

... and three to go. And no--I don't see any bright side just yet.

Yesterday (scroll down) I went to sleep at 3pm(ish) and woke up at 8:30pm (not particularly happy to be awake, might I add). Breakfast consisted of pizza and a dull head ache too.

The head ache ended up staying for quite some time, and 10:20pm found me unable to revise (as had been my intentions). I hadn’t even opened my folder and looked at section 3 yet. Struggling, I found myself asleep again, intending to wake up at midnight to finish my revision.

At 1pm I was downstairs and faffing about of course. Yesterday’s numbness was still keeping me stable, however I wanted to panic. Damn it—I hadn’t completed my revision yet, and had all the problem sheets to do as well. The panic, I realise, is what actually motivates me to get myself in gear. No panicking feels really strange. Honestly speaking I haven’t panicked all day today. Well perhaps slightly in the exam, when I was clueless as to what to do, but apart from that not one bit. It feels wrong—not panicking does.

The exam is over now but still no panic. My post mortem with fellow students hasn’t left me with much joy. My post mortem with the lecturer confirms the joys I missed out on. I would like to say something sensible for a change. Although you might like jotting things on the question paper, DON’T do it. Please I beg you. I wrote the answer out on the question paper it seems, but I had just jotted down a few ideas and not taken them further. Fizz told me off and I am surprised that I’m not supporting another bruised arm! I feel like a twit though. I had subtracted (minused?) the two 1-forms and factorised them nicely too. Why couldn’t I have just copied that information out on the answer booklet! Damn my bad luck.

(My final answer turned out to be ridiculous because I deliberately contradicted the fact that I had stated. If you have an exact form, the integral over a curve for this is found by evaluating the function at the end points. However, having written “the forms are not exact” I used the above method! He’s probably going to think I’m some crack pot who needs sleep. (Which isn’t far from the truth is it?))

I was sick again this morning, and I am becoming annoyed at being ill now. Honestly, just because I’m ill doesn’t mean that I am incapable of doing various things. Admittedly I function much slower than I normally would, but all everyone seems to be saying is “get some rest”, “get some sleep”, “who told you to study maths” and “stop revising, it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish the topic”. I can’t stop revising and it does matter if I don’t finish the topic—how on earth do you expect me to pass then? I don’t want people telling me that everything I am doing is wrong and I should be doing something else. Although, I have got myself into this big mess, all I should be doing now is revision!

On the other hand, some people do keep on reminding me to revise, to who I sheepishly mutter “yes, yes I am trying to”. Sigh. Some people are getting annoyed with me because I don’t seem to be revising but thinking about other things; and some people are getting annoyed because I’m trying to revise.

You can’t please em’ all, but I’d prefer people being angry because I’m not revising. Then I should hopefully feel guilty and get some proper revision done.

I must admit that I was day dreaming about my final exam during today’s exam. I also can’t seem to finish any exam on time and the reason this is rather embarrassing. I can’t get out of the annoying/good habit of writing nearly everything down! I didn’t manage to finish today’s paper too, so that’s three in three which I have left incomplete.

I should do something today, but all I want to do is sleep. Am I allowed to sleep during the day today? The thought of algebra is making me sicker than I already am.

This post has taken me too long to write, but the adrenaline rush that I normally get due to lack of sleep, has run its course, although the feeling of wanting to do something extreme is still there. I feel like a soldier—coming home after six hard months away. (By the way, I was “just on time” again today.) Gosh—another three exams left. Humbug.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The hole just got deeper.

Today I realised how big the hole I am sat in, has become.

For some reason I have a habit of turning up to exams just "on time". Maybe this is associated with my feelings of not wanting to be there, but today I had a valid reason! (Like always of course). Anyway I loudly made my presence felt and was a bit annoyed to see that everyone seemed to be covering their seat number, so I didn't know where the heck to start looking. (Hmm, that seems a good reason to be on time).

I woke up at 3am like intended, and faffed around a lot. My throat is honestly causing me a lot of problems, but some of my voice returned today. I shouldn't talk you see because that causes me more pain and then the throat goes worse again. But me... not talk? You must be joking! I was sick this morning too, but that's because I'm under the weather--not the exams. (It wasn't very pleasant might I add). I am in such a mood that I could carry on describing its unpleasantness and its exact form, shape etc. However, a bruising arm reminds me that some people tend to say "eww shut up" very quickly, and proceed to give me "the look". I'm going to wait till they're all eating... you just wait and see. (Well I'm going to make sure that I there are no obstacles for my escape first... some people can be rather dangerous when in that "ew" mood.)

Anyway, how do I feel now. Numb. Numb is good though, for it is keeping the wave of panic that is to due to come because of tomorrows exam, away from me for now. I don't like discrete maths any more. I don't like the fact that we only got 2 hours for the exam and I didn't manage to finish the paper. Sod's law had to have its way and the minute I understood what to do, time was up. I just managed to start drawing my graph.

I am just in a weird and lost mood. This hole is very deep I'll have you know. I should have done enough to pass (pft), but I really want to know what I got in my coursework. I haven't done as well I wanted to have you see and this numb feeling is beginning to go! I don't like maths any more. I don't like exams. I don't like sitting in this hole, watching all my expectations fall right beneath me. There is very little I can do now, which isn't very reassuring. I deserve every single bit of this punishment, but where is that hopeful part that exists within me, always praying that I might have done enough? "Hello--I need you!" Perhaps that has gone numb too?

The thoughts "how thick can someone be" (because of my stupid mistakes) are very depressing. I annoyed my neighbour, but I did apologise at the end. Perhaps the should let me sit exams in isloation, so I can peacefully talk to myself? And what is the university's problem with having exam halls with horrible lighting? That really irks me (I'm angry now). My revision is done with the lamp on and the bedroom light on too, even if its a sunny day. I need the light to be as bright as possible. The light in the exam hall puts me to sleep and my head starts groaning.

Hmm. This happens to me every year. Or perhaps I always need something to whinge about? Possibly. Anyway, of to bed I go now; and I will wake in 4.5 hours and then revise geometry section 3 and do all the problem sheets till 9:45am tomorrow. Impossible is nothing I tell you, but the chances of this hole going even more deeper is very high.

I shouldn't be allowed out of this in this mood. If you ever want an excuse to do some dumb (or you want to do something dumb and need an excuse to do it) have 3 hours sleep and your job is done. Good night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rules for Public Transport

The following rules were found in an interesting book (from my Dad's bookshelf) which also brought back memories of my rant on public transport. (I have to take this opportunity and thank the anonymous commenter who told me to relax a little with sticking explanation marks everywhere, for all I could see in that post were explanation marks!)

This a list of unwritten rules (with my comments) that are followed rigidly when faced with crowded situations such as a packed lift or public transport:

1) You are not permitted to speak to anyone, including a person you know.

This depends on the situation actually, and how many people are nearby and the sound level of the surroundings. I hate it when I sometimes see a long lost person on a train, and they end up quizzing me on my whole life story in front of a full and quiet carriage. That is why a book or magazine can be pretty useful!

2) You must avoid eye contact with others at all time. [Try to get window seat--that helps!]

3) You are to maintain a "poker face" -- no emotion is permitted to be displayed.

Well the alternative to this is to always have a bemused expression on your face, or think of something funny which leaves a loopy grin on your face. Trust me--that really freaks people out and they stay away from you! Just don't be too crazy so someone complains about you.

4) If you have a book or newspaper, you must appear to be deeply engrossed in it.

If you have a maths book you score bonus points! From personal experiences, bringing a maths book/work out of your bag has two main effects on people: they either shy away from you into a ball, hence giving you have more leg room; or they sit glaring at you which gives you even more satisfaction. *cue evil laugh* You could even get a third interested and curious person, which means you have won the lottery (woohoo). For this means that whilst you talk to this person about complex numbers and how fantastic maths is, the whole carriage can possibly faint or want to strangle you. If you are even luckier someone else might join in the conversation, and then the rest of the train will definitely be having nightmares.

Note if you are having a thick maths day, this can also boost your confidence. (Not that I would know anything about this of course... ;-) )

5) The bigger the crowd, the less the movement you are permitted to make.

6) In elevators, you are compelled to watch the floor numbers above your head.

If like myself you are still growing up, you could do something that might annoy the people in the lift with you. Say you're at floor N and want to go to floor B. First press M on the panel, and then when the lift stops there say "doh-I meant floor L" and proceed to press that button. At floor L, have another doh moment, but this time in a flustered manner look through your bag for your diary. Find the real floor you are after and then apologise the people in the lift and say "ah, it's floor E" and press E. They will probably be shaking their heads at you at this moment, or getting ready to throttle you. Continue to look apologetic and then just before it gets to floor E have a look at your phone. After studying it loudly exclaim "damn-now they tell me" and continue shaking your head and looking annoyed. At floor E, press the button to close the doors as soon as it stops and make sure you are looking very mad. Then you have completed your job and exit the lift at floor B.

Sweet. I haven't actually ever tried that but it seems a great way to annoy people. (I don't think there is anything wrong in thinking about ways to annoy people, but some people always seem to be annoyed). What I did used to do was, when going up or down the lift in the mss building, I would press the button of the floor we had just passed! (The Tweenies and Dr. C did try to make me behave on one occasion, but the only time I stopped doing this when the lift itself spoke to me.) Maybe it was a good thing that I made the decision to walk to n-floor instead of taking the lift!

(This seems like an evil little post, but I can assure you (with my fingers uncrossed) I'm a nice ickle bean! Honestly... ask my PTs. I'm just getting a bit annoyed with discrete maths, that's all.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Dangerous Game.

The Geometry exam will have four questions; each on the four sections of the course. The exam format is as follows: Answer three questions, and if you attempt all four, your best three will be chosen.

What game have I elected to play? I'm only going to revise three sections of the course material of course! I honestly haven't got the time to revise all four sections for Tuesday (I have an exam on Monday you see). I am still slowly going through the second section, which I have to complete today. (Integration of differential forms here I come!)

My revision is slow because section 2 was the time when I "zoned out" a lot, namely because I got confused from the first lecture and didn't bother trying to make sense of things. The chapter is on differential forms and I had already come across such things in calculus. However in calculus we were just given a form alpha and told "this is a k-form" etc. (I would write the form but I do not have the time). Whereas in geometry all of a sudden the words tangent vectors, real valued function, tangent space etc came up and left me to wait for the next bus. (The next bus only came today I must say!!)

Yes, I think I finally understand the first lecture on section two now. I didn't dwell too long on the notation in the previous post and won't be returning to it. When I get to two forms I will be in familiar ground, and then integration is nice once we have closed forms. (Yes, I'm afraid there's a lot of unexplained mathematical jargon in this post, which I don't like doing but "one day it might be explained"!)

The point is though, that today I should finish section two (hopefully!) and then tomorrow I will I finish learning the course material for discrete maths (planar graphs, graph colouring and whatever else there is!) So on Monday morning at 3am I will I do the problem sheets (for the first time this year) for Discrete maths. The exam should finish by lunch time, after which I will come home and revise (understand) the whole of section 3 for geometry. Then on Tuesday 3am do the problem sheets for geometry (some for the first time on this occasion!) The exam will finish by lunch time again, after which I will SLEEP!

Hmm, on paper that looks impossible to me (given the amount of learning that I have to do in such a short period) but out with that negative thinking!

The plan of revising the first three sections only, no longer seems as dangerous a thing as I had first predicted. Namely, because the horrible paragraph mentioning my "proposed plan" sounds horrific in comparison.

"Let me just ask James... my Calculus book"

Is it just me or does everyone end up referring to their books by who the author is? I was sitting talking to myself (whilst trying to make sense of horrible notation) and found myself saying,

"Lets see what James says on this--he always know what to say!"

After which I proceeded to hunt my calculus book from the shelf, and find the required chapter. (You have heard of James before in case you were wondering!)

That means I have James, Peter, Hilary, Ian and on the list goes, sitting in my room waiting for me to consult them. Cool. (I do the same when consulting my lecture notes too...)

Anyway, don't throw anything at me yet I will return to my revision soon! (I'm on a tea break...) I am the horrible, annoying person who wants to understand the concepts (as opposed to trying to just concentrate on being able to answer the questions) which is why I struggling through the following passage. Let me know if you can make sense of it:

James did help, but his notation is "nicer" and different. I am wasting too long in trying to make sense of five lines, I know, but old habits die hard. (Ouch--that's an old saying!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

How mad are you?

Excuse the very lame title. I couldn't think of anything "cool". (That word seems to cling on to me nowadays...). I suppose I can be forgiven because it is my second post today! The quote below is something which I found "nice". (Sometimes it is simple words like nice which say a lot.)

Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.

John Le Carre

My voice has all but gone. Isn't it a shame that the year had to end when this marvellous thing was to happen? (Hehe, I'm quite glad that it went at a time when I am not really at university 9-5pm,because although croaking is painful, nothing stops me from talking! Don't tell my PTs though--they will be over the moon, especially Dr. C!) It will be back in a few days though--it has to return! (It's not that I miss hearing myself talk... but my throat hurts.)

At this moment in time I find it hard to forget my English teacher. She used to take great pleasure when my voice went, for she used to lose hers a lot too, and English teachers do have a lot to say!

This post wasn't meant to be about my voice (but as you have gathered I have yet to sleep!) There is a lot of thinking going on in my head (not about my exams I'm afraid though), which I will be sharing with any readers soon. Why not now? Well one can of worms at a time, is what I always say! (Damn--that's another Shrek-ish quote.)

I will be doing the Student Associates Scheme (SAS) straight after my exams (DAMN), and you'll also be hearing more about that too. From now on I will always write SAS (looks more.... cooler?), but this summer is going to be make or break for me in terms of where I am headed mathematically. A PGCE (Post graduate certificate in Education) or MMaths (a masters) is what's on the table at the moment. I will open part of the can now, for I want to develop this thought process slowly (and painfully).

My holiday did one thing good for me. It made me realise that I enjoy mathematics. Prior to the Easter break I was in a state of confusion. I was disliking my modules and thought that I no longer liked maths. This wasn't very good. Indeed, during one Galois Group lecture I even felt like a fraud--you know, trying to generate this community feeling but not being sure of whether I should be within it myself. I felt that I was being hypocritical when I tried to persuade people to attend our lectures, or generally when I talked about maths amongst undergraduates. Consequently I used to zone out a lot more in lectures, didn't do any problem sheets, and just did the bare minimum to survive. There were times when I felt I had to pull my socks up and I did some studying, but it wasn't with the same energy that I know I have.

I was no longer studying mathematics, but just going through the motions of being a student. Nothing excited me any more and I felt that a fourth year was not for me, because already I had lost that ball of energy that carries me along. During this time I consulted my three PTs, and each reassured that me that a fourth year was within my means and I should consider it. (Well Prof. S has been saying this for ages, but now everyone was in the loop!) Once again, I had this fear that I was cheating the world, for inside I had had a falling out with mathematics that no one knew about.

Maybe this darkness came because I wasn't studying, but I can't really say, for even now I don't know what the heck is going round and round in my head. I want something to aim for if I am being honest. Aims and goals are very important in life, and whilst Noddy is aspiring to drive an Aston Martin one day, I am clueless. If you want the horrible, brutal truth I can't give it to you. There is this one thing which is not connected to mathematics in any form, but which I am desperate to have. Or is the correct word was? I'm confused about that now too! This is a "non-trivial" thing shall we say, and no one understands me when I say that I want to achieve this.

However, maybe I am being foolish but if I was to do a PGCE then it would be easier for me to get this thing. A PGCE would give me stability in life (in terms on money flow I suppose) which is neccessary for what I want. The stability has to be there. On the other hand, were I to do a masters then the thing I want(/ed?) the most will get pushed back into the queue. The more years I stay at university, the less stability I will have so my aspirations will have to pause.

That's the grown up way of looking at things. About money and stability. Me being the young fool I am seems to be overlooking many things--I don't like the grown up way, but it was brought to my attention and I have to be realistic. This confusion is sometimes annoying, but I am happy that I know that I enjoy mathematics. Although there isn't a topic which is "my cup of tea" and some of my modules have been erm... not very nice, I really enjoy that buzz I get. Well the buzz that returned!

When I was revising for my calculus exam I had them "wow" moments. It's not actually that bad a module, and I did enjoy it.

The questions are overflowing and I am unable to offer answers. For some people this would have been a trivial decision, but when have I ever claimed to have been normal? Most people can't understand why this is not a simple decision, but that is because they haven't heard the full story. It will all boil down to what I want the most. I have though, acknowledged the fact that if I was to do the masters, then now is the time to do it. Previously I was considering doing the PGCE and in the future coming back to university, but where's the fun in that? That might have never happened, and the people that make university a cool place for me now, might not be here too!

Now is my chance to do it, if I am ever to transfer.

So this is half a can of worms. Posts like this are a mostly a result of conversations that I have had during the day. Indeed, this is one is no different. All I am going to say is "touch wood that I don't lose this buzz for mathematics again"! I thought that I would write two posts today since I dare not blog during the weekend... I have to learn two modules in two days. Impossible. I don't know what I am going to do (apart from panic)! Did I ever mention that I like blogging? Not just blogging but writing. I guess it goes hand in hand with talking a lot...

PS: The mugs vote is tied... (you can still vote!)... so the IMA logo might have to go on them due to cost reasons. "They will not let me pay anything towards them" Pft. However, the IMA one isn't too bad, for having our logo and then the text with TGG mentioned is a bit silly. Well I did say I will think about this after my exams now, well next Friday, but you can still opine on this matter...

Hit and Run.

A cyclist was being cheeky today and tried to go through red lights. Actually I was blind and hadn't spotted the man, and in my hurry to cross the road all I remember hearing is the bike trying to come to a loud and quick stop. He didn't hit me in case you were wondering. But boy did he have to brake hard! (HA) I did my good deed of the day and informed him that it was a red light...

Well that's as far as I can go with making excuses for myself. Today I woke up at 2am, for revision of course because it was my first exam. I have been a very very bad student. I don't like it when people sometimes call me a "good student". That's the worlds biggest lie. I am no such thing. I am the worst of the worst possible student that can exist. Yes, I do admit to having an interest in learning, but when it comes to putting myself into the right gear I fail miserably.

The one thing that I used to do which you can say was "good" is that I tried to keep on top of the work during the year (did the problem sheets throughout the year as opposed to looking at them for the first time before the exam!) Hence revision was always revision--not learning the whole blimmin course in one day! That's the plain ugly truth. I'm a dead duck. Everyone "expects me to do well". I had such an expectation of myself too... once upon a time that is.

The exam was so and so. It should have been the exam that I did the best in, but sadly my master plan is not working. (I'm going to do very badly in geometry, algebra and logic you see, so the plan was to try and do the "bestest" in calculus"). Sigh. I'm not going to give the post mortem--I'm too tired. However I am not allowed to sleep. I had wanted to sleep at 3pm and then wake up at 11pm to "begin my Saturday" and revise Geometry. But alas, I have been warned to sleep at night and stay awake during the day. Of course that is the natural thing for one to do...

I have kicked myself three times in total due to the exam. It can be increased to four times, but my stupidity actually surprised me today! I didn't finish on time because I thought we were going to finish at "o'clock" so was faffing around taking my time. (We had started at 9:45pm and it was a two hour paper.) At 11:30 the woman (who was taking her job very seriously) announced that we had 15 minutes left! That's when I panicked slightly, but still my brain slept. Yes, on this occasion I hold my hand up and say that I should have woken up at 3pm instead of two. I am honestly like a zombie. An actual seven year old actually! (I was lying on the floor downstairs, not letting anyone get past me....) The advantages of sleeping on the floor, as were discussed today, is that I can park myself anywhere I like, and can fall asleep anywhere too.

I know you are probably thinking "floor--how can someone sleep on the floor?" But honestly, I was wondering how can people sleep on beds... yes, it is going to be a year since I threw my bed out!

So back to me being a bad student. (I can't apologise for the lack of any structure in this post, for the word structure itself is causing a pain in my temples.)

Do remember, children of all ages, you should learn from the bad examples in life. For example, if I was throw rubbish on the floor and get fined some money, you wouldn't copy me would you? In the same light, don't be like me and find yourself saying "next year it is going to be different--I am going to make sure that I study throughout the year". HA--how many times have we heard that before? This year has been very very very ... hectic, but I shouldn't have forgotten the reason as to why I am at university!! Yes--you would have probably forgotten had my blog not been titled "Me or My Maths".

Oh, and guess what this student is saying again. "I'm going to make sure that my summer holidays are productive." Another big sarcastic HA. (Yes, having had about three hours sleep, I have lost the very little maturity that I can claim to have ever had.)

The examiner is going to be very annoyed with my paper, namely because I wrote some silly teeny details out which were probably not needed. (And I need to stop writing sentences. Imagine reading something like one of posts when marking my exam paper... no seriously!)

Someone said to me three days ago, make sure you go to sleep on time otherwise you will become ill. Pfft, I had replied, sleep has nothing to do with it. The person went on to say "your mum is cool". That she is I agreed. Next thing you know, I have a smokers cough (i.e. I'm not feeling 100% well) and there is a misunderstanding between my mum and me, which results in NO lunch for me. I just hope that I don't lose my voice (it has been playing up today).

I wish I could stay away from that person but in Shrek style, "Like that's ever going to happen"! The alternative is to avoid talking about myself. Could this person jinx themselves?

Bring on Friday 23rd May 2008 4pm. No--my exams are not over then, but the horrible week (i.e. next week) will be over then. Why do I keep on getting Shrek quotes in my head? Maybe I should have slept when I came home, but there is no point now... or is there? So that's another whole day gone to waste for I can't revise given my heads current situation!

I better go and make a further nuisance of myself... what say you? Have I annoyed you enough... (unintentionally of course)! I want to do something extreme. The other day I had to climb over the wall to fetch the ball. Actually I volunteered myself, namely because I wanted to see how accidental I could make it look if I was to accidentally fall.. Relax! That was the lowest point of my week, when I was looking for ways out of sitting my exams. (I was being encouraged by a bad crowd-- it's not my fault!) Anyway, when I realised that I will have to sit the exams in the summer I changed my mind.

Why does it feel like the uncontrollable seven year old inside me is going to go on a rampage soon? I have become more controlled as I have aged (I will have you know!) In the good all days I would have said that I am having a good day today, but nowadays that seems a ridiculous thing to say. You don't want another mad person on the street right?

Enough is enough. If I smoked I would have said I am going for a smoke (well going with my horrible cough...) However I am a tea drinker(!) so I am going to have a cup of tea. (You can join me if you want...)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Updated images of mugs

In case anyone still has an opinion... which looks cooler? I am asking because no one seems to be answering! (Well it doesn't really concern anyone, but it is because I am stuck in the middle about which to choose.) The cost and everything as been sorted, we just need to pick one of the two... (by the way, the text is on the wrong side in the images but that can be changed).

Oh, yeah, I am actually revising algebra and ideals but because they stink really really badly I was drawn to this. Seriously--I hate cyclic subgroups and ideals seem to be generated by them and that leaves me perplexed. A cyclic subgroup is \lange a \rangle = {a^n | n is an integer}. Now we interpret a^n= a*a*..... *a and star is whatever binary operation the group has.

Yes, I'm probably sounding very dumb, but in rings since we have the group (R, +) do we take the bin. op in the ideal generated by a to be addition? But then GAH. Yes--this was the hole I was talking about. Ideals require that for a \in I (the ideal) and r \in R (the ring) ar and ra \in I. So ....

Something is not making sense. Did I mention that I don't like algebra that much any more?

Why you should hand in typed coursework.

I have dug myself a large hole for algebra and have confused myself over some silly thing. I ended up going back to algebra 1 notes and recalling some very important information. Still though I was finding myself unable to get out of this hole. At this stage I started to frantically search for my algebra coursework, which ended up being impossible (my files and notes are scattered everywhere at the moment).

In the process of finding my coursework, I have further destroyed the very little order I had in my room. However a smack on the forehead soon followed as I realised that I had typed the damn thing up!

So typing coursework ensures that you always have a copy; it looks pretty neat too and something else which I have now forgotten. (I regret not typing my discrete coursework up for it hasn't been returned to us...)

Anyway, that is all from me. I should have started calculus revision today because that exam is on Friday, but instead have been struggling with algebra. Is it just me, but when I revise I end up reading into topics that I have no business in doing so! I just spent an hour reading about something which will not help me any exam whatsoever. Humbug.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Vote!

Calling all blog readers (once again!) Please can I draw your attention to my post in August sometime, where I asked readers to vote on which logo and combination they liked. Your votes determined The Galois Groups' official logo and name (see you guys have played a massive part in the existence of TGG already).

Now is your chance to help me to come to another decision, but on this occasion I can't make any promises regarding the outcome. Prof. S gave me a marvellous idea some time ago, that we should present those people who give a Galois Group lecture something or other as a token of our appreciation (...a nice gesture). I liked this idea straight away and the natural question that arose was "what to give"? Upon discussion with Dr. Coleman, we came up with presenting "personalised" mugs to the speakers with the text "I lectured for The Galois Group" on them. (I say "we" but I think this was actually Dr. C's suggestion). Once again I thought this to be a fantastic idea and then we went to the next obvious question: the cost.

This is where things get complicated. Now I reckon that the School will pay half of the amount required (eg £50) so we decided to ask the IMA for the other half, by saying we'll put their logo on the mugs. I asked and was told that once we give them a figure they will be in touch (for they have already granted the Manchester "Mathsoc" the £600 grant they give). However, now I have changed my mind and I don't want the other money from the IMA. I don't think it feels right to put their logo on the mugs, and this is where you come into the picture! (You see I had declined the offer from the IMA for money to fund The Galois Groups' activities, and it doesn't feel right to go back on what I said.) Even if the other £50.00 comes from my pocket I don't care. I haven't exactly bought that many books this semester so it will be put to good use! (We have to order in bulk you see.)

So the first question: what logo is more appropriate for the mugs, ours or the IMA's? For your attention I have attached two images of the respective logos, and a third of the opposite side with the text (please ignore the white background on the images):

So should we have our logo or the IMA's? Also what blimmin' font should we use? (As an aside of course!) I am thinking Comic Sans or Arial .... Actually another thought just occured to me: what about the university logo?

(Either of the two...)

Any votes or comments will be greatly appreciated (apart from those which mention revision and what the heck are you playing at beans!) Rest assured that if you have given a lecture for us, you will be getting one of these as soon as they are made. I probably am making this into too big a deal, but I would prefer to hear a range of opinions you see. (Call this a group discussion.)

Today's marvellous adventures will be broadcast tomorrow hopefully, but in the mean time use your chance and VOTE! It's free and if we ever sell these mugs (or variations) I'll give you a discount code if you want to make a purchase.*

*This expires once you have voted... come now, we have to take things one step at a time and not get ahead of ourselves!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sweeney Todd

I really want to watch Sweeney Todd at this moment in time. Its darkness has already surrounded me and all I hear is the barber's deadly voice--singing.

Revision is what I should be doing every second of the day. I'm not. Today in algebraic structures I had the biggest of panic attacks. I didn't understand a word of what was being said. Madness, I cried. Why was it that I was only able to answer the question requiring me to find the gcd of two polynomials?

I was talking to someone earlier today and they asked me when my exams start. Next week, I had tensely replied. "You won't be smiling then", was the painful truth. I shouldn't panic, but my situation can't be any worse than what I am saying. I can't stop myself from comparing my non-existing revision to that of the Tweenies. I should be revising as much as them but I'm not. I can't. The next two weeks are going to be horrible. I have four exams and I'm only ready for 0.5 of one of them.

The problem is that I have been telling everyone "it's OK if I don't do as well as I would like to this year, I'm not expecting much from myself either". That is one big fat lie. It's not OK.

You see PS said he is going to try to fulfil his part of our "agreement", and I have been trying miserably to do my part of it. My part is much more depressing and painful I feel, and I was down in the dumps the other day due to my plan being ruined. I'm taking my part one step at a time, and funnily enough Dr. C even said that PS probably wouldn't mind helping me do what I have to do. That won't work was my dull reply. Sigh. I have to get the best I can in these exams to help me convince the world.

That seriously doesn't look like it is going to happen though. I can be very negative when I have to, and panicking has never helped me! I'm a loose cannon who has gone stray.

By the way, I realise that I probably sounded erm... immature in my previous post but it was very important for me that the final lecture went great. Whoops, I thought I had decided to forget what TGG was for four weeks?

Enough. I have two days to revise everything in Geometry *cue mental laugh* and then one day for algebraic structures, followed by three days for calculus. (Then its the blimmin exams--aaahhhh!) Geometry in two days should have you all laughing, (and me crying of course). To be organised... if only.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

To all the negative people who are out there.

Are you happy now? Did you get what you were after? Were you pleased that this Wednesday was the first ever Galois Group Wednesday that I ate lunch? That I was deflated like a balloon whilst I ate, despondently watching the door to G205 and for any familiar faces?

(scroll down a bit)

If you aren't happy then I blimmin well am!! This Wednesday's Galois Group lecture was amazing. It had everything (that includes people too). About 62 people attended--would you believe that?! I had mentioned in my email to students, that let us make this lecture as well attended as the first, and that is what actually happened.

I was gobsmacked--honestly! As I had been eating my lunch with Dr. W and a second year student, I had noticed four students hover near the door to G205. My lunch remained unfinished after that--Beans was back. The students were contemplating attending and I just helped them inside the room! This was the first Wednesday that I hadn't asked everyone to move down, so any late comers would be able to find a seat; but perhaps I should have.

The introductions were going to be done by Professor Glendinning (who obviously happily agreed to do this!) and an hour before the lecture was due to start, Dr. Coleman informed me that I was to do the conclusions! You see I had to do the refreshments today as well (due to the Tweenies sending their apologies) and I had already told Dr. Coleman of this. Unsurprisingly I did go into a small state of panic at having to the conclusions, for I wasn't sure how long the refreshments would take and whether I would return to the lecture in time. (I understood that it would be better for me to do the conclusions, which is why I went down without a fight on this occasion!)

Introductions complete, the lecture began to a fullish house. I've even forgiven those individuals who informed me that they would be attending, but forgot! (Had the attendance been not nice, then I would be singing a different story of course...)

The lecture was amazing in case you were wondering. I'm going to be careful from now on, before I make any erm... rude remark about applied maths! (I'll reserve them remarks for probability or stats..muhahaha.) I think people who scoff at you when you say I study mathematics and moan about how useless maths is, should attend such a lecture. It was an eye opener to say the least, about what role mathematics plays in a variety of places (some which you I would never have considered).

Although all this stuff fascinates me (and will continue to do so), I don't think it is quite my cup of tea. I am still looking for "the cup" which will fit snugly into my hands, but I don't think I will be finding that any day soon. One thing that I feel motivated to do now, is learn some programming. No real reason for this, but it's another skill to have.

At 1:45pm I had slipped out of the room and rushed towards the kitchen. During the day I had asked Rob about how many tea bags I should use (etc), and we had settled on 12. As I faffed about in the kitchen, wondering how the heck I was supposed to make coffee in a kettle when I didn't even know how to make it in a cup, Dr. S came to rescue! He apologised for not being able to attend the lecture and told me that he would look after the refreshments. The powers that be had felt sorry for me today, and were on my side. Thanking them and then Dr. S, I quickly headed back to the lecture and tried to calm my pumping heart. (On the back of some paper I quickly jotted four words, to give me a guide for the conclusion.)

I did find my legs shaking slightly when I went to the front, but as I spoke I felt myself calm down slightly (but not enough for me to talk slightly slower!) Anyway, as I reminded everyone present, the Galois Groups' aim was to create a mathematical community for the School of Mathematics, which I feel it has done to some degree. It was meant to bring students from different levels and staff together, to interact in a positive way. This was when my nerves left me: please stay for the refreshments, I had said, for that is when this important interaction happens. Talk to the speaker and other people, whilst munching on jaffa cakes of course.

I thanked everyone for making The Galois Group into what it has become, by attending the lectures consistently and being supportive. This message is to thank those who didn't come today but have been supporting the group, and most importantly myself throughout the year. There were periods of instability, when the towel was so close to leaving my hand, but it stayed put. (It is not only people in Manchester who supported me, but the online community has been of immense help too.)

I further went on to remind everyone (as I am doing so now!) that we are looking for student volunteers, to do a lecture for 25 minutes next year. You have all summer to prepare and can even volunteer for a 50 minute slot. PLEASE get in touch with me if you are interested in volunteering (either post a comment or email the.galoisgroup at or get in touch in some other way!)

We are also looking for student submissions of articles for Infinite Descent. The email will be circulated again (once exams are over of course), but please do consider writing something. I will be telling you a secret soon (obviously that's when it will no longer be a secret!) about what you could achieve if you submit an article. At the moment it suffices to say that if you are passionate about any area in mathematics then please get it on paper.

I'm not sure where I'm going with the next few sentences, but if any student is reading this blog and you are not from Manchester, then we might still be interested in your articles too! I should be seeing Dr. C soon to get the ball rolling for next year, and that will surely be discussed.

So, although my conclusion here has been four-ish paragraphs, I can assure you that it was said much faster than you read it. After I had sat down, Dr. Coleman went on to embarrass me (that's two things that I have to get him back for now!) and that concluded the final Galois Group lecture of the year. The end. It really does seem like one of them "happily ever after" moments, apart from the fact that exams are starting next week and I haven't started my proper revision yet. Ha...that didn't ruin my mood but I seem to have lost my priorities these days, for I prefer attending meetings and other things, as opposed to revising.

Anyway, a final big thank you to everyone again, and I hope that you continue showing us your support next year in whatever ways possible. It has honestly been a great year\{studying} and I have enjoyed every second of it. The negativity and despondency (at times) was necessary maybe, for the delight that followed was immense. The highs, lows and a full history of the Galois Group will be posted "one day" but that day is not today. If anyone does have any constructive feedback about The Galois Group, then I am all ears.

I'm going to try and turn my computer off and keep it that way for a couple of days; but did the weather have to be so great now? It is no longer cold at night when I sleep on the floor as well! Oh and "one more thing Jackie" I lost one of my to do lists (I think it fell out of my pocket when I took my wallet out) so my reply to anyone wanting me to do anything is: 6th June is the day to find me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Remember remember...

... \sout{the fifth of November} the seventh of May, and The Galois Group lecture! (Alan Turing Building G205 at 1:10pm, by Professor Lionheart on Mathematics in Industry).

Nope--poetry isn't my thing and I dare not attempt to write something "fancy". I woke up rather up beat today, however now dread and despair are slowly creeping into me.

I'm feeling particularly bad as well, because I keep on (unintentionally) annoying the same few busy people. Ah well, I must reassure everyone that this behaviour will stop in a couple of weeks (when term ends); so please be patient with me for a little longer. I'm already breaking and the cracks are becoming visible. Hopefully I can stay glued together for another four weeks, but please don't crush me yet.

None of the Tweenies are around today, and I can't see any other students too. Let us hope that 1pm will paint a different story.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Expanding Unicurse

Something which I found in the margin of a text book (whilst I was trying to do some revision.) Graphs can be quite cool at times, especially with light entertainment like this on the side... (I found it cool, having just concluded that a connected graph is Eulerian (how do you pronounce this?) if and only if each vertex has even degree.)

Some citizens of Königsberg
Were walking on the strand
Beside the river Pregel
With its seven bridges spanned.

"O Euler, come and walk with us,"
Those burghers did beseech.
'We'll roam the seven bridges o'er,
And pass but once by each."
"It can't be done," thus Euler cried.
Here comes the Q. E. D.

Your island are but vertices
And four have odd degree."

From Königsberg to Konig's book
So runs the graphic tale
And still it grows more colorful
In Michigan, and Yale.

The Expanding Unicurse, Blanche Descartes

Mathematics in the "real" world.

My travels (sadly?) had me encounter the following:

Question: What's the first thing that came to your mind when you saw the above picture? (Be honest now! No one is going to say anything rude to you here--after all this is meant be a "maths blog".)

The driver was not amused, but surely someone out there shares my excitement.... No? Ah well, there was no harm in trying. The weird thing is that I had actually been using Euclid's algorithm the day before...

PS: When I was a wee bit younger(!) we used to play this game on long car journeys with my Dad. We had to make a phrase with the last three letters of someone's number plate. The more funnier the phrase, the more "points" you got. You always looked to make it funny; and whilst my Dad thought us innocent kids were brushing up our English skills, we sometimes (amongst ourselves) bent the rules slightly! So one can imagine what ADH would have opened up to be... (actually my Biology class mates made an erm phrase out of that one... it really means Antidiuretic hormone in case you were wondering). Children will always be children... ;)

Today I have been in a discussion with numerous people about what it means to be "shy". When would one classify themselves to be shy? What would make you say "yes I'm shy" when asked. There is no real reason to these questions, but they started in a curious conversation which I have decided to expand. Are you shy? If so how did you define "shyness"?

Oh, and supposedly I'm not shy! (My friend was shocked that I dared ask such a question, but in my defence I claimed to be work-shy!) The dictionary is your friend if you are stuck as to the meaning of "shy".

Tea time now. (It seems that I blog more when I have exams!)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mathematics in Industry -- The final TGG lecture of the semester

The fact that this is the last time that I will try to \sout{emotionally black mail} persuade (like it ever works though!) you to attend a Galois Group lecture this semester, must come as a relief. However, the persuasion must go on for a few more days and I would be delighted if you could make it to the final lecture this Wednesday.

The lecture will be at 1:10-2:00pm in the Alan Turing building, room G205. The Head of School-- Professor Paul Glendinning has kindly agreed to do the introductions this week too, and it will be a stinker of a lecture if there are only 10 people present. Yes, I have my reasons to be negative (the Tweenie's attitude has passed onto me). However, as always I am trying to be hopeful that we can get at least 30 attending; and you could do your part and make that possible. I actually don't know what to expect from this Wednesday after the previous lectures attendance. On Friday I exhausted myself by sticking all the posters up by 5pm, but I can always recover once this Wednesday is over.

Someone once commented (I think) that not many lectures are geared towards applied maths. Well this ones for you then (and everyone else who felt that way)!

OK to the abstract then...

Mathematics in Industry by Professor Bill Lionheart.
Wednesday 7th May 2008, 1:10-2:00pm (Alan Turing Building G205)

How does mathematics help in practical problems in industry and commerce? How do mathematicians work with industry? What job opportunities are there for maths graduates where they will use their mathematical skills?

I will illustrate the answer to this with some examples of work I have done with industry including such things as diverse as helping a steel mill, devising new types of computer display, improving medical imaging and working on airport security. I will tell you about some maths graduates I know and the work they do, and some of the impact of maths in our daily life.


Since this is the last lecture of the season, I was thinking of getting more refreshments than normal! (Though I'm not sure whether they will be well received...) Hope to see you on Wednesday then!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It's official.

You read it here first: my revision officially starts today when I wake up in 7ish hours time!

I was only jesting when I said that I will start revising after my previous post... you didn't believe me now did you?!

A sense of doom hangs over my head though, for this year I haven't been doing the work as the weeks went by. I haven't completed any example sheets this semester, which isn't a very good thing. Past papers and solutions here I come! (That is my last resort unfortunately, but I have been considering such a move.)

Enough non-mathematical nonsense. Here's a maths question that you might want to do... AS level standard:

A circle C has equation: x^2 + y^2 -6x +8y- 75=0.

a) Write down the coordinates of the centre C, and calculate the radius C.

A second circle has centre at the point (15, 12) and radius 10.

b) Sketch both circles in a single diagram and find the coordinates of the point where they touch.


The who, what, where and when of this question will be shared after I wake up (hopefully) i.e. when I am not revising. (That made me laugh---revision, will I ever be doing that?!)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Being a "git".

Yes, that is what I have been at times this week.

I had a driving lesson this morning, and you could say I had "stormed" out of the house. I'm not a driver yet (in the same way I'm not a proper mathematician), but I enjoy my lessons. My instructor always inquires as to whether or not I have my driving head on. Today I had replied: "Sorry, but you had better be extra alert today--I have my troubled head on.".

The lesson thankfully went OK. Everything depends on how lazy I am, and I can be very lazy at times! Anyway, the lesson allowed me to redirect my annoyance and general worries at other drivers, who saw a learner and tried to be clever. I must confess though, I always tend to speed up when I see someone whose waiting to turn right! Sometimes they go for it and I end up saying "MORON" and slowing down. Haha, also when I am at the front of the traffic lights and the person opposite wants to turn right, I always make sure I start of quickly. I do be silly at times, but I would rather do stupid things with my instructor there (and get battered for it) as opposed to being on my own.

I digress. After my lesson I felt more calmer and better, but that is what it has been like all week. I have had a good day and then a bad patch and then good again etc. I have probably upset people this week, which is not very nice. Normally my stresses and worries hide under my skin and reside there happily. This week there has been an overflow of worries and they have been escaping and showing themselves. So firstly, if anyone who knows me is reading this and has been at the end of one of my "bad" days, I apologise.

Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I think I have upset someone who I didn't want to. I will be apologising in person for this but I feel down in the pits because I should have double checked.

Anyway, my revision is going to start in erm... well as soon as this post is published. I am out of holiday mode and I would never advise you to go on holiday during term time. NEVER. It has taken me three weeks to get out of holiday mode, and now I'm waiting for maths mode to return properly. Although my holiday was great and fantastic, I think it was at the wrong time. You see I think (after all) that I like being busy and having purpose. Yes, having a period of complete relaxation and no stress is great, but I like doing things and being busy.

I also had a kick about today and the burning sensation in my legs was great. Walking is good for you but I think I need to start walking up 250 stairs a day again, especially since I don't play football as I once did. Sigh. It's great-- playing football, cricket, walking, feeling that blood rush to your head and that adrenaline pumping through your veins.

Now these posts bring a sense of deja vu, for it's exam period again. However, I can't expect myself to change and am waiting for even the smallest burst of motivation.

In a sense I want myself to become angry and hulk-like. It's quite weird, but my mum really takes advantage of me when I am annoyed etc, for then I tend to work extra hard and focus on the task at hand properly. (She normally makes me clean my room by this way, or empty the bins etc.)

If I am to unwind my stress on this blog then I feel that is acceptable. I know that everyone is stressed by exams etc. and if I am to add my stress to theirs, then that is very selfish. Why doesn't everyone make a blog then? Well students who think they're doing the world a favour by offloading their stress onto others. Not in one conversation have I ever brought exams or revision up because I know how it changes the mood... sigh. Come now beans. Two week are remaining until exams start and I have to let bygones be bygones.

Does anyone know if any job that one can do, which gives them lots of money but requires the least amount of work.

Note: That's a rhetorical question--there was no question mark at then end... although if you do have a solution then I'm interested in hearing it.

To anyone who has struggled to this line: PLEASE attend the next Galois Group lecture next Wednesday at 1:10pm in the Alan Turing Building room G205. I have the refreshments ready...