maths study via The Open University

Archive for January, 2012

M347 – first assignment done

Alas, not the TMA, which looks like a totally foreign language to me at this point in time, but the first CMA, or iCMA as it’s called on this course for some reason.

All questions are answered but I’ll hold off submitting it until tomorrow, after I’ve checked them since I’m knackered (work has become crazily busy), and struggling to concentrate.

The chuffed feeling of having done the first CMA evaporated quickly though – it seems some students have done the first couple, or few CMAs, and the first TMA, and a bit more…. (the course doesn’t “officially” begin for another week and a bit).

I think it’s fair to say I’m the statistical runt of this (bright) cohort.

Ah well.

I’ll console myself with the realisation I can integrate by parts, and create Maclaurin series, in my head easily enough. 🙂

Week 1

M343 study is on hold for a week.
I managed to cover a fair bit before the course forum opened.
I had expected to carry on with it this week, but M347 is causing a few problems.

What problems?

Well, the maths in it is ok so far. But the statistics is a bit confusing.

Yes, I should have done M248 before M347. But, I didn’t.
Therefore, my reward is to hit a fresh e-page of online material, read it through, do the maths, work some answers out, prove something fairly basic, then wonder what the statistical element does or is used for.

That leads to digging out M248 books (I have the books = great), some A level texts, loading up Youtube, making notes, then hoping it all gels at some point in the future.

As it stands, it all makes good sense once I’ve followed the procedure above, but it’s slowing me down.

Consequently, I’m well over time budget for M347 this week.

But, fear not, there are so many examples and additional exercises that even if something is a case of turning the handle to extract an answer for now, it cannot fail to provide a platform on which to consolidate everything as we go forward. I think. 🙂

The notes are excellent. Yes, the initial unit’s notes are brief, but then again, they should be since I should have studied the prerequisite material. I suppose I’m a bit like a student enrolling on a third level course on complex analysis, having never done much real analysis before.

But it’s not all scary. The first half of unit one was all statistics. The second half was standard mathematical methods. That took zero time, by comparison.

I’ll study M347 until Saturday evening, then switch to M343 for a bit.

“Week 0” M343 and M347 study

I’ve concentrated on getting some of the background knowledge to M347 this week by reading some chapters from M248 and watching some Youtube stuff.

Nothing heavy.

The real study starts from tomorrow – eight hours for M347 on Saturday, and another eight hours for M343 on Sunday.

Monday and Tuesday evenings will be more M343, Wednesday evenings will be spent doing actuarial study, leaving Thursday and Friday evenings free for M347.

That will get me about 18 hours a week for each module, with room to squeeze out extra if TMAs and iCMAs start getting heavy.

Time to get started properly.

Link – relevant to M347

This looks handy for the basics leading in to M347.


The website opened yesterday as planned, and I have to say its interactivity is excellent.
There’s built-in video and audio to address certain topics perhaps more easily and effectively than the written word might do.

It doesn’t have to be studied online for the most part – probably 99% of the materials can be downloaded as PDFs, and I think there *may* be an option to get them working on various platforms such as the Kindle with a minimum of fuss, too.

The small bit that can’t be downloaded into print, for obvious reasons, is the videos/audio.

However, I suspect it’ll be a small matter to download some sort of .flv program and save them off for use offline if you so desired.

So, any concerns I had that this might not be a particularly portable course are gone, subject to having a printer if you want to lug paper around with you.

I’ve printed all that’s available so far – which amounts to about eight weeks work from the looks of it. The rest doesn’t seem to be online yet.

The first unit deals quickly with stuff a student should already know – the basics of probability theory, discrete and continuous distributions, the Central Limit Theorem, aspects of calculus, Taylor and MacLaurin series, proof by induction, etc.

There seems to be a requirement to get through about 30 pages of A4 per week, which is about a page every 15 minutes if you manage to stick to just eight hours of study a week (excluding TMA time).

There’s a fair bit of calculus in unit 2 – which deals with PDFs, CDFs, moments, quantiles, gamma and beta functions, etc. Here, the requirement seems to drop to about 20 pages per week.

Unit three is where stuff starts looking a bit new to me – bivariate joint, marginal and conditional distributions appear, together with bivariate and conditional moments. It’s calculus-heavy. Then there’s covariance and correlation, the bivariate normal distribution, multivariate distributions, multivariate moments and the multivariate normal distribution to finish the unit off.
I have to say, it looks fun.

That little lot concludes Block one.

There are four blocks, and 14 units in total.

Printing off units one to three, and their associated extra examples to reinforce learning (separate file) has filled a slightly-larger-than-standard A4 ring binder.

So, I assume we’ll end up with about four ring binders-worth.

Something I have to mention is the amount of reinforcing questions for students to have a go at. I thought MST209 had plenty, but M347 is loaded with them. There’s absolutely stacks. Which is a very good thing.

The course writing style is friendly and very accessible, and it’s well-presented, too. I’ve only found one minor typo so far, in about 60 pages or so (skim reading until the wee hours last night).

I seriously think I am going to enjoy this course, although it doesn’t look like it hangs around….

I’m looking at spending maybe 20 hours a week on M347, then a further 20 hours a week on M343 – hopefully to get a bit ahead, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s only sufficient to keep me up-to-date – I’m having to do a bit of background reading to overcome the fact I skipped statistics at second level. That said, I find probability to be fairly intuitive. For now.

M343 and M347 go live tomorrow

Excited / impatient.

M343, being a hard-copy booklets-based course, I’m already a wee bit ahead on since the reading material came last month.

M347, being an online-based course with interactive stuff, I’m nowhere on, since the forum “curtain” behind which the materials lie, is closed until tomorrow.

I strongly suspect they will complement each other well.

Fingers crossed I don’t have any problems with the software/coding for M347.

Anyway, expect some posts about the content of M347 tomorrow evening (hopefully).

Final modules decision for February

I’ll be sticking with just M343 and M347 for February (no M248 or MS324).

I’ll spend the evenings of my work days studying CT2 and CT3 of the actuarial exams.
That way, I should have three exemptions (including CT1) when I start the MSc in Actuarial Science proper in 2013 (hopefully).

October 2012’s modules should be MST326, M337 and M346, with MSXR209 in May 2013 to complete the undergraduate maths degree.