maths study via The Open University

Going back to unit 24

With unit 25 now done and a reasonably comfortable feeling about its contents, I’m going back to retackle unit 24, armed with Baxandall and Liebeck’s “Vector Calculus”, since my lack of understanding from first pass is tickling the back of my mind.

Due to a couple of fortnight allocations to certain units (instead of the usual seven days per unit), I was quite surprised this morning to find I’m 10 days ahead of the course calendar (unless I read it wrong).

So, I’ll use that time not by getting further ahead, but by going backwards and catching up to where I ought to be right now.

Going further ahead (ie units 26-28) will only draw on what I didn’t learn adequately previously, which is the study progression equivalence to taking two blinkered steps forward then getting side-swiped by a truck. Learning to turn the handle to pop an answer out might get marks but it does nothing for the bigger picture.

So, let’s call it unit 24 of MST209 and some more of block 0 of MS324 from now until Sunday.

I’ve also started looking at some general number theory and have an idea for a cunning encryption algorithm which will, no doubt, crumble faster than a sand-castle in a force 10 when it gets pressure-tested.

Still, in the absence of skill and experience, I’m free to use brute ignorance, and a wing and a prayer as tools instead.

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11 responses

  1. get off your ath

    hi i’m currently looking for a rigorous multivariable/vector calculus book, i looked up liebeck’s book for reviews and came across this post. what do you think of it? is it rigorous (i.e. not cookbooks like most standard texts)? would you recommend it for self-study? and are there solutions in the back?

    thanks mate

    September 25, 2011 at 6:28 AM

  2. Hi, if you’re asking about Vector Calculus by Baxandall and Liebeck, it’s a very definition/theorem/proof/corollary-led book, there’s very little chat in it, and there are exercises every few pages or so, with answers immediately following on the same page.

    None of the solutions appear to be worked though – you just get the answer.

    That said, there are plenty of worked examples.

    It uses a rigorous pure maths approach to definition rather than a more “relaxed” science one.

    From what I’ve read so far, everything that’s introduced is well-defined and explained. It’s certainly not a “plug this in here and get that out without explanation” book.

    Where systems to solve problems are laid out, each entry is accompanied by a reference to a theorem.

    There’s a quick recap of first semester calculus and differential geometry before it gets to the meat of the subject.

    It looks fine for self-study, assuming the reader has had some undergrad experience. I couldn’t see someone with only A level or further maths finding it all that accessible.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

    September 25, 2011 at 1:49 PM

  3. get off your ath

    no worked problems is fine, as long as there are some answers so i know i’m on the right track

    could you please the table of the contents if it’s too much to ask?

    thanks for replying by the way

    September 26, 2011 at 7:46 AM

  4. get off your ath

    i actually don’t really like books that are too verbose or too ‘easy’ as i find i get bored quickly but on the other hand, with terser books, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what everything is about, and some of the interesting/useful insights are omitted

    September 26, 2011 at 7:59 AM

  5. If you have a look at http://seeinside.doverpublications.com/dover/0486466205 you’ll see the table of contents, and quite a few pages of the actual text.
    Hope that helps.

    September 26, 2011 at 5:38 PM

  6. get off your ath

    oh yeah, forgot about the dover website.

    thanks a lot

    October 3, 2011 at 12:19 AM

  7. get off your ath

    hey man, did you end up finishing the book?

    March 26, 2012 at 8:29 AM

  8. I haven’t had time – studying probability theory, mathematical statistics and, unofficially, complex analysis right now. How about you? What did you think of it?

    March 26, 2012 at 7:34 PM

  9. get off your ath

    ah, ok. i’ve looked through it, it looks good. i’m still working through an easier multivariable calculus (thomas) book for physics though

    March 27, 2012 at 5:57 AM

  10. get off your ath

    so many good books, so little time

    March 27, 2012 at 5:58 AM

  11. Indeed. Even with a whole lifetime dedicated to math study, I guess I’d be lucky to cover 0.1% of what’s available.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:02 PM

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