Reading, and reading, and teaching, and reading, and reading, and…

So, to summarize the direction of my most recent mathematical endeavors: I woke up and decided that part of my aspiration was to become a geometric topologist, and I did that despite the fact that topology is (far and away) my worst subject.

That sounds precisely as terrible as it probably is.

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Another Sunday, or Awaiting Week 4

3 weeks.

I’ve officially survived the first three weeks of my second year of grad school (twice, actually). Again, I know keeping count of the days is a terrible thing to do to myself, particularly when there’s been a very small amount of good to come from my weeks thus far, but at this point, I’m sort of using that countdown as some sort of badge of accomplishment. Or something.

The coming weeks are going to be very very stressful and busy and stressful. Besides my usual load of stuff (I’m enrolled in 6 classes, I have a reading class in algebraic geometry starting up on Tuesday, I’m TAing for 1 lecture and 7 labs, and I’m trying to pick advisors / plan presentations I’ll need to give some timem soon), I also thought it was a good idea (remind me why?!) to make a poster to present at FSU’s upcoming Math Fun Day. That particular endeavor shouldn’t be especially difficult, but it requires time and time, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what I have zero of.

Daunting is the adjective that comes to mind.

Also daunting is / was / has been the thought of continuing my goal to do all the problems in Hatcher. As you may recall, I spent the first half of summer slaving to acquire the information needed for the Chapter 0 exercises, only to have my plan for Chapter 1 totality derailed by that little piece of awesome that was my Wolfram internship. Long story short: The obsessive-compulsive part of me wants to not move forward until I hash out a Chapter 1 plan, but the This will benefit me in the class I’m taking now which, subsequently, hinges on my ability to understand Chapters 2 and 3 of Hatcher part wants to press forward.

I’m pleased to announce that the second guy won out.

In particular, my Hatcher Solutions page is showing signs of progress. It didn’t take as long as I’d predicted it to take to build that framework, and due to a random, unforeseen bout of sleeplessness at 3am this morning, I had precisely the opportunity needed to seize the moment. Right now, all those are empty pages, but I’m pleased to report that I seem to have accumulated approximately six solutions; if everything goes as planned, I’ll be taking time to update by including those as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to hash out what to do about this paper. And what to do about the professors I’m emailing regarding potential advisor-hood. And what to do about the fact that I severely cut my weekend work time by spending yesterday ballin’ out of control in celebration of my wife’s birth. And what to do about….

Au revoir, internet. I bid thee well.

Oh, I just remembered: I have my first exam of the semester Friday. It’s on field theory. I’m less than pleased. :\

Revisiting, and something light

Well, today was the fourth day of my official employment with Wolfram. This job is absolutely amazing; I couldn’t be more stoked. It’s saddening, of course, that I’m not spending my days engulfed in the books I’d been looking at earlier in the summer; it’s also a bit saddening that I have less time to spend with you beautiful people. Regardless, things are pretty amazing and overall, I couldn’t be happier.

I wanted to take some time to swing by here and say something, though, and fortunately for me, my TA duties this semester have yielded me something of precisely the right balance of depth (or lack thereof) and length (or brevity) to be fitting for tonight’s (this morning’s) pit stop.

On Wednesday (July 3), I was sitting in a precalculus class, doing Wolfram stuff and vaguely listening to what the instructor was talking about at the time. The topic? Logarithms. As someone who’s solo-taught precalculus before, I know precisely how little students understand – or like – or care – about logarithms. I also know how much we try to convince them to believe without their understanding which – among others – has to be a primary cause for their confusion and disdain.

One thing we try to get them to believe? The change of base formula. The change of base formula says that given a base b>0, b\neq 1, the quantity \log_b(x) is equal to the quantity

\log_b(x)=\displaystyle\frac{\log_c(x)}{\log_c(b)} where c>0, c\neq 1.

This information is shared with students at that level largely so they can feel comfortable evaluating an expression like \log_{15}(31) in their calculators given only the capacity to utilize \log(x)=\log_{10}(x) and \ln(x)=\log_e(x) functionality. Surely, they never really need to know it.

And then I realized…

In all my years in mathematics, I’ve never actually seen this rule proven before. That, of course, sparked my interest, and so I went back to my office and jotted the (surprisingly simple) proof on my whiteboard just to appease my curiosity. Here’s the way that goes:

Proof of The Change of Base Formula.
Let y=\log_b(x) so that b^y=x. In particular, then, it follows that for c>0, c\neq 1,

\displaystyle\frac{\log_c(x)}{\log_c(b)} = \frac{\log_c\left(b^y\right)}{\log_c(b)}=\frac{y\cdot\log_c(b)}{\log_c(b)}=y=\log_b(x). \square

I think I may force my next round of precalculus students to know that. It keeps ’em fresh, on their toes, where they gotta baayayaeeee….

Did anyone just catch my reference to ‘Heat’? Or, rather, my reference to Aries Spears’ reference to ‘Heat’?

I hope everyone’s 4th was safe and that there were only minimal injuries due to inebriation, explosives, and general tomfoolery.

Until next time….