Sunday, 23 January 2011

Back in the Swing

Well the websites for my three maths courses opened on Monday and now I can access the TMA's I'm back in the swing of things. As a warm up I'll be concentrating on the first TMA for M208 over the next week or so. Sunday afternoons and Saturday mornings are usually the time I devote to writing TMA's whilst reading the relevant course material on the bus to work or in the evenings. The first deadline is middle of Feb for a part TMA for M208 this (as I predicted) was essentially about curve sketching, There is a systematic method outlined in the course material and I spent this afternoon applying it to the task in hand which was a rational function of two quadratics, The other question in the first part tests your ability to transform certain basic curves and draw a hybrid graph taking care to specify the intervals properly. So a warm up for the real stuff ahead but at least I feel I've started.

M208 has seven TMA's. M346 4 TMA's and M337 also 4 TMA's but only half of them have been published, In an ideal world I would like to do an average of two TMA's for M208 per month. I TMA for M337 and M346 which would mean I finish all the material by about June and leave the rest for consolidation and revision and looking at my other maths interests. Effectively it works out as 1 TMA question per week for M337 and M346 and 2 or 3 TMA questions for M208.

I had a little spat with some people on the MS221 forum in which some people were boasting they had completed half the material and it is true that M208 has a lot of 'optional material' which isn't examined mainly proofs of certain theorems so it is quite possible to zip through the course material and ignore a good half of it and then revise exam technique to get a good grade. This can be done relatively straightforwardly and quickly. On the other hand I'm doing these courses to cross the mental block I've had since I first came across say the epsilon delta definition of continuity when I started my physics degree. So at least for the analysis and group theory blocks of M208 and for all of M337 I really do want to make an effort to try and understand the proofs. I accept that this level of detail can't be done for all aspects of the course so it's a question of concentrating on what is important and I cannot see the educational value of just zipping through a course, Conversely I will be tempted to just zip through M346 but as it doesn't really go into the mathematics behind the statisitical modelling  I don't feel to guilty. Of course whether such high minded intentions stay the course once the pressure of TMA deadlines loom I don't know.



  1. Really?! If there are people on MS221, which is not an easy course, who finished half of the course, by now then they are on the wrong course or qualification path in my opinion. - I find that if mathematics is not difficult then you are not learning new stuff. The experience of finding things difficult is an effect of learning.

  2. I hope the lastname of your teacher on M208 does not start with an H.

  3. I am still refining the 2011 plan, i'll try to keep close the OU schedule which starts 5 feb. - You are doing an 8 month-load of 24 hours in 6 months, in OU terms that's a 6 month load of 32 hours! My guess is that you 'put-in' about 16 hours. Is that correct? You are definitely a fast student! - And I bet you are going for three distinctions.

  4. yes about 16 hours per would be correct. What speeds things up is that I don't do all the problems only one's I find interesting or thought provoking. Whether I get distinction in the three courses is really a matter of luck obviously I will try and get at least 90 or more marks per TMA. But it's all down to the exam I was lucky with both my philosophy and MS221 courses last year but it's still quite an important factor. I would be content with Grade 2 for all three courses.
    My tutor on M208 is the same as yours on M381 namely Alan Borthwick. I had him last year for MS221 and am looking forward to tutorials with him this year. I will probably skip the first one which is this Saturday as I want to try and finish all of TMA01 for M208 this weekend. Then I'll look at the other courses.

  5. Yes, you mentioned this earlier about Bothwick. Good luck with the TMA. Tip for M208: it's not about getting the answer, nor how you got there but how you present both. - Success!

  6. The epsilon-delta stuff is very weird at first, but then most things to do with infinity are weird.

    At least the weirdness in the epsilon-delta stuff is bounded.

    I thought since I did that ( 30 years ago!) there had been a new test developed, but perhaps I am wrong again.

    MS221 is pretty easy, if you have done A-level and Further Maths, but it still has to be ticked off as part of a degree.

  7. Chris,

    Alan was my M208 tutor last year (and my M381 and MT365 this year.) He definitely knows his stuff for the course, and should be a good tutor.

    - Kevin

  8. I guess the acid test for me will be whether I understand the epsilon delta definition of continuity is whether or not I can reproduce unaided the proof that the blancmage function is continuous but nowhere differentiable.