Blog > New Website Launched

New Website Launched

October 2nd, 2008

Well, after squatting on this domain for about a year, I finally decided that I might as well put a website up here again. The website is going to be much more math-oriented this time around since I’m a nerd like that. In that vein, my first entry here will simply be one of the only math-related things that I wrote on the old site (on November 22, 2005):

After hours of thought and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the way in which math is taught sucks monkey fur.Let us take, for example, a Numerical Methods assignment that I currently have sitting in front of me. One particular question (which is worth a whopping 0.0769% of my final mark) on this assignment requires to me to find eigenvalues of a 3 × 3 matrix for which the characteristic polynomial does not factor.

“But Nathan,” I can hear you say, “that’s simply a matter of plugging numbers into the cubic root formula! What’s your problem, ho?”

And though you are quite correct, allow me to print, in its entirety, said formula:

“But Nathan,” I can hear to chirp up again, “why don’t you just use the QR Algorithm or MATLAB or some other method to find the roots?”

Well, it seems that this route of escape was thought of by the prof, so she specifically states that we are to compare our answer with the one obtained from MATLAB – indicating that we are indeed actually expected to find these roots by hand and get the exact answers – to obtain a whopping 0.0769% of our final mark (actually, considerably less than that – this is only one part of a multi-part question).

“But Nathan,” I hear you say one final time, “why don’t you talk about something interesting? I don’t know what the hell the QR Algorithm is, nor could I care less.”

Shut up, I never talk about math on here, I’ve been generous until now, so let me rant. I’m getting sick and tired of so many courses managing to teach so little, while expecting so much. Why do we have to prove over and over again that we are capable of plugging numbers into longer and longer formulae, while not actually being required to demonstrate any real insight along the way?

So, tell me professors, what is the point of this? And what is the point of us having to draw nine linearizations to complete question #1 on a differential equations assignment? You don’t believe that we know how to do it after the first eight times? Why do you feel the need to ask the same questions over and over again, while giving us nothing really insightful or different on the assignments?

Maybe someday down the line if/when I become a professor I’ll understand (and perhaps even prove) that making assignments ridiculously repetitive and far more tedious than necessary is a fundamental law of the universe which keeps us all in harmony and prevents the Earth from being hurled into the sun. But, barring that realization, I make the following vow to my future students, should I become a professor:

I will (try to) make assignments for my classes (as) interesting (as possible for a math class) and will not ask you to do questions that involve exceedingly gross algebra (unless you all get on my bad side by skipping lectures) for no good reason.

  1. Elithrion
    October 6th, 2008 at 01:10 | #1

    You could grab Maple, copy-paste the formula and just have it evaluate it at the [a,b,c,d] you want. Assuming that’s not its default algorithm anyway! Although who knows if that was possible back in the dark dreary days of three years ago.

    If something looks repetitive and boring to me nowadays I do in fact just resort to Maple. Although I don’t know that most other people are as technologically savvy, so I’m not sure how they cope.

  2. C.Risi
    December 1st, 2008 at 15:32 | #2

    Are you back next semester? Will you be teaching? Seeing as half the professors seem to be going on sabbatical over the next few years?

    C. Risi

    p.s. I came across your website from Ph.D comics which had a advertisement to academia.edu, which you had a link to this website. Cool site though!

  3. December 1st, 2008 at 23:19 | #3

    Hey Chris,

    I’ll be back next semester, but I have no idea what I’ll be doing as far as TAing/teaching goes. I hope to be TAing the 3rd year linear algebra course and spending the rest of my time in the learning centre, but we’ll see where the powers that be put me.

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