## Tuesday, June 03, 2008

### Maths scary/horror movie

In the comments to my post on Mathematical Beauty and Tea, an interesting (depending on who you are) conversation has taken place between Anatoly and myself.

The question I asked, after Anatoly made the fascinating invention of math-scream, was:

"Many people seem to love horror movies, so if you had a mathematical horror movie, would more people like maths then?"

To which Anatoly replied,

"Mathematical horror movie. Something like this: "A pi shaped monster says: Solve this integral or you will be cut into infinitesimal parts "evil laugh". "?
It will probably cause kids to have mathematical nightmares... Not good for public relations. :)
On the other hand, mathematicians (and math students) will love the idea."

And then I first wrote something ridiculous about cartoons and then:

"So back to the scary movie idea (no cartoon idea ever existed!) Hmmm, I have to do that placement in a secondary school next week and part of it is to "promote mathematics" etc. Perhaps I could ask the group I'm working with to create a maths horror movie? (Well the students who don't like maths might enjoy doing this; casting their maths teachers as some gruesome characters, being the highlight of course!)"

So what say you? Would a maths horror movie promote mathematics? I know of the series called Number, but I haven't ever watched that (and probably won't). By the way, before you wonder whether I fell and banged my head today, its metric spaces that has done this to me. I hate compactness I tell you. Sub covers, covers, what the heck. Why does there have to be so many theorems. I'm stuck on compactness at the moment and have completeness left (and that's all I think). Sigh. I must admit though, there was an interesting point in my revision when I got to the definition of topological equivalence, but that's for another post. (That excitement has been drained).

Whoops I digress. A maths movie. So, plot ideas anyone? Or should I just turn the computer off and go into hiding? If you were a year 9 kid (about 13-14 years old) or perhaps a year 7 kid (11-12 years old) would this come across a good way to make maths seem friendly? Please someone stop me now, before I end up doing something ridiculous. I can't see the sense in this idea, and I can't see any nonsense at this moment in time too. Hence, we will return to this discussion (hopefully with your ideas...) after my exams.

I know which maths teacher of mine would not get the best of roles! (She'd be like that green goblin in spiderman. Cool apart from when teaching maths. Erm.. perhaps I should keep the casting to myself at the moment!)

#### 16 comments:

Jake said...

"I must admit though, there was an interesting point in my revision when I got to the definition of topological equivalence, but that's for another post."

I agree. The book I am working from (didn't really go to the lectures) is called Metric and Topolgical Spaces so I am learning bits of topology here and there as I go along too. It is such a natural generalisation to go from studying continuity in Euclidean space to more general metric spaces and then topological spaces.

The subject is quite interesting in general though. It feels like we are doing some proper analysis with some meat and substance to it (a story) rather then like last term where we basically plodded through the same old examples etc. of continuity and differentiability of real valued functions.

Anatoly said...

"If you were a year 9 kid (about 13-14 years old) or perhaps a year 7 kid (11-12 years old) would this come across a good way to make maths seem friendly?"

Why should be math introduced as a friend? It seems to have a very specific standard of whom it want to befriend :).
If such a movie would make math seem interesting and "magical" it would would be a better result, in my opinion. People, especially children, are attracted to mystery.

Beans said...

Hi Jake,

I actually think last semesters course on real analysis had more meat on the bones. It was more challenging hence I enjoyed it more. Metric spaces was the opposite. Yes, it seems that once you go further into the subject it becomes interesting, but the course had no meat on it whatsoever.

I hate myself for not learning the solution sheets of by heart.

Beans said...

Hi Anatoly,

What about acquaintance then? ;) (Or is it perhaps people who have a very specific standard?)

I'll speak to my supervisor for the placement, and see what she thinks. (Otherwise I don't have any other such ideas!)

Jake said...

I actually think last semesters course on real analysis had more meat on the bones. It was more challenging hence I enjoyed it more. Metric spaces was the opposite.

I have to disagree, the last analysis course was just all tedious calculations and the calculi of limits, derivatives etc. This time we actually did some more interesting theory - the material actually started to get 'deeper'.

Beans said...

How much of last semesters course had you done previously?

This time we actually did some more interesting theory

I don't really think we got to the interesting stuff though. It was all there waiting to be picked at.

Jake said...

How much of last semesters course had you done previously?

I was familiar with some basic analysis but my point was that there were no new ideas - everyone already new the ideas from calculus so we just dotted a couple of is, crossed some ts with proofs and then did loads of boring calculating limits etc.

I don't really think we got to the interesting stuff though. It was all there waiting to be picked at.

I think we did - I don't know how the material was emphasised in the lectures but luckily I was reading from a very well written book.For instance I guess one thing about studying metric and topological spaces is that you are analysing more closely the exact hypotheses you need to prove theorems i.e. extracting the salient information - finding the patterns that matter. Just seems more meaningful to me.

e.g. sometimes you don't need the hypothesis of euclidean metric - proofs will work in arbitrary metrics (think of the amount of time fiddling with the triangle ineq. when calculating limits in basic real analysis)

the whole concept of global and local analysis (rather than purely local) via the structure of open sets, moving from finiteness to compactedness etc.

you have the contraction mapping theorem which is really important yet simple ot state and prove.

Just seems like an attractive subject and has made me want to do more analysis and topology!

Beans said...

When I revised from the book, I felt that same sense of wanting to study more of this too. (Hence why I am most likely going to be doing the Topology module next year!)

But I guess, as you said, my evaluation on its interestingness wasn't based on what I read from the book. (Is the book you are using written by Sutherland by any chance?)

Jake said...

Yeah, I read from Sutherland - great little book.

I'm not really biased from the lectures though as Sutherland was my teacher for this course really. I lost interest after the first couple of lectures when we were just going through loads of examples of metrics and verifying that they were indeed metrics etc. so I thought I'd just read the material instead.

Beans said...

Yep, it is a great little book indeed.

But I started reading it a little too late! (Hence my "negative" attitude towards metric spaces.) I think it's great that you are able to teach yourself competently from a book. :) [I need to try doing that too...]

What about the other modules? Which books did you use for them? (Namely Logic I suppose.)

Jake said...

What about the other modules? Which books did you use for them? (Namely Logic I suppose.)

For Geometry, Calc. of Sev. Vars. and Logic I used the lecturers' notes.

For Discrete I mostly used 'Introduction to graph theory' by Wilson (and I went to the lectures for the continued fractions stuff)

For Algebra - I knew most of the course already and used Allenby and the lecture notes to brush up on it.

Beans said...

I used books by the Open University for discrete, and they were pretty good. I think the notes that were online were easy to follow as well. I enjoyed discrete maths.

Do you have any mathematical plans for the summer? :D

Jake said...

Do you have any mathematical plans for the summer?

Nothing too focused yet. I am currently desperately looking for work (amazing how unemplyed you feel one day after finishing the exams) and then I'll be moving house etc.

Will probably buy books in advance for next years modules and read ahead.

Beans said...

I am currently desperately looking for work (amazing how unemplyed you feel one day after finishing the exams)

I'm the complete opposite! I'm dreading working...

So are you not going to be doing a project next year then? I'm going to say whether or not I will read ahead, because I never end up doing so! (Good luck with the job hunting. I subscribed to the university job vacancy email from the careers page, and that has some good job offers that you might be interested in; so you might want to check the careers page out.)

Jake said...

I'm not particularly looking forward to working, lol - I just need money for rent and bills. The university one generally have 'work experience' type things which i'm not really interested in - just need some solid cash.

Probably won't do a project next year because I believe you can't do one in the third and fourth year so if thats the case - I'll wait until the fourth year.

Beans said...

They are not always work experience types, but many are for graduates only.

If you want, you can do a project in the third year. Either a single one (10 credits, one semester) or a double one (20 credits, over two semesters which is more in depth). However, you have to make sure that the project topic doesn't clash with any modules you take.

If you are on the fourth year course, all that happens is that you have to do another project in your final year, which is compulsory. This will be a double project but 30 credits this time round.

The only difference is that you can choose not to do a project in the third year, but you have no choice in your fourth year. (Since I'm not sure if I'm going to stay on another year, I will most likely be doing a project in my third year. An eek! escaped me though!)