maths study via The Open University

Unit 17 – lots of work

Unit 17 is, so far, a large exercise in differential equations, logs, largish algebraic rearrangements, lots of setting up models, and lots of calculator work.

It’s all quite followable, line by line, but by the time I get to the end of it all and proudly proclaim my answer to some sub-part I was solving, I end up realising I’ve lost my train of thought about the question as a whole.

My advice to me, come revision time, is to run a side margin of notes of what you’re aiming at, what you know, and how best to manipulate the coordinate system to start off with easy initial conditions.

I have an earlier start than normal for work tomorrow, so jumped on here just to update quickly and say – this chapter is time-consuming.
Five hours tonight has only brought 7 pages of progress. Bah. The text is getting dense, the algebraic leaps ever greater, and I could really use a week off to get through it.

This will be the first point at which I fall behind in an uncomfortable way on this course.

With little else to chop out of my daily calendar to accommodate study, I suppose sleep is the next thing to go.

Advice to next year’s students – use the time gained in the relatively short units 15 and 16 to get ahead on chapter 17. And make sure you can solve inhomogeneous diff eqs off the top of your head or you’ll get seriously slowed down since this is one diff eq festival.

Bloody decaying oscillations and failing buffers – easy enough to assess quantitatively but a pain to assess qualitatively.


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