maths study via The Open University

MST209 TMA3 – posting this week

Ok, so assignment number three is about done.

I’m just putting the finishing touches to the last (unit 11-related) question.

The unit 9 and unit 10 stuff seemed very fair and quite straightforward.

The second unit 8 question required a step back to see exactly what they wanted from it. The clue is in the question and mark scheme, as ever.

I learned some neat eigenstuff that I wasn’t aware of before in unit 10 – mainly to do with finding eigenvalues and eigenvectors through repeated iteration. The techniques to achieve this, and keep the resulting values to a manageable size, are laid out crystal clear in the book. Very well written piece, I thought.

Unit 11, on systems of differential equations, took some getting used to. The intro was a bit woolly but then, all of a sudden, boom – everything coming at you at once. As the intro says, you need proficiency with matrices and determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, and several methods of solving differential equations.

Unit 11 has clearly signalled the point where various sections of the course suddenly meet up. It looks like lots of the available twigs and moss of knowledge have gathered into a ball (of mass m, of course) and are now rolling down an incline (at theta to the horizontal in the -j direction) towards the end of the course (which is still 17/28ths away).

There is a LOT of work in this course. Last year’s M208 was like a picnic in terms of time demands compared to this.

Unit ratings by difficulty: (1-easy; 10-brain melt)

Unit 9 – matrices and determinants – gets a 2-out-of-10 from me since I did a load of it last year. I can see students with no prior background in the topic getting into a pickle though – the course notes fly through the material at a fair rate.

Unit 10 – eigenvalues and eigenvectors – gets a 4-out-of-10 from me due to the iterative stuff being a touch tricky in places. Tip – get used to using the det and trace to check answers (or even predict answers before invoking the characteristic equation, etc).

Unit 11 – systems of differential equations – was fun but confused me several times. Also had me looking back to unit 2 and unit 3 to check on my fundamentals of differential equations. This is a good thing as it helps consolidate prior learning. Difficulty rating: 5-out-of-10.


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