maths study via The Open University

Next course and stuff

It’s been yonks since I’ve updated.

Binned SM358 – no time – and managed a pass two on M337 complex analysis in the end – simply ran out of time in the exam, which I thought was pretty easy, to be fair, apart from me writing ever more slowly as the years go by.

Logged in to my next course’s home page tonight to find a boatload of bloggers in there. Woohoo.

Chris and gang, see you there. It’s M381 for me as well this year. Roll on number theory and logic (looking forward to the logic side).

In other news, I have gone a bit programming mad.
I couldn’t have “programmed” a digital watch with the time four months ago but have, since then, learned Python through Udacity, which is a great, free resource.

I’ve also learned HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, jQuery and PHP through, which is a f***ing awesome paid-for resource (about 15 quid a month depending on the Sterling/U.S. dollar exchange rate), it has to be said.

Just delving into Ruby on Rails and Java via Android apps at the mo (well, I would be if my computer wasn’t so knackered that the Android emulator that comes with the Google Developer’s Kit takes over half an hour to load up).

C# planned after Java. 😉

Just in the middle of a Udacity course on cryptography, which marries probability theory and number theory to various other aspects of maths. It’s fairly hard going, especially as I haven’t done any number theory in real life yet (hence M381).


9 responses

  1. Tiernan

    Hi OUMaths,

    great to see you are back. I agree with you that the M337 exam was no where near as nasty as it could have been. Was hugely relieved when I saw the “series sum” question which allowed me to avoid Laurent series and conformal maps.

    As an ex-software developer, I must say you’ve chosen some of the most useful (and marketable) skills to learn. Just a little on databases and source control and you’re ready for the front line! I do think crytography is going to be a boom industry in coming years. Are you thinking of doing any computing modules at the OU?

    September 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    • Hi Tiernan.
      I was looking forward to the Laurent question – it was the final one I needed to do, when the invigilator said “pens down”. Lol.
      Felt like I’d been writing for about two hours and not the three hours it obviously was, so that came as a bit of a rude shock and cost marks.
      This developing and designing lark is good fun – I’m rubbish with photoshop etc but don’t seem to have much trouble with PHP and Javascript/jQuery.
      Just looking at getting into MooTools now.
      Have done a basic databases course/module as well, plus a “programming from the command line” intro – written for the Posix lot though, so had to use an emulator for my, ahem, Windows set-up.
      Just doing some Git version control basics before I let myself loose on Github and probably break things.
      Doing Java via the OU did cross my mind but it seems much quicker to pick it up by actually writing live project code. I have about 10 web or mobile apps half-written at the mo, plus the usual suspect portfolio page ready to deploy.
      Half of it is built on CSS flexbox though, so lots of browser compatibility issues.
      Being me, I had a look at entry-level programming jobs, thinking I could grok enough to be useful in another few months time. Seems even junior programmers need three years experience where I’m based, though. Lol.
      All of which points to the fact that I am, once again, bored with work and in dire need of a daily brain-satisfying challenge, rather than the actual brain-off stuff I do.
      Might do some web dev on the side but need to crack backbone and angular first, and learn a LOT more about preventing injection attacks.
      “DB’s up and running, guys.”
      Er, no it’s not….

      October 1, 2013 at 9:47 PM

  2. Chris Finlay

    Hi good to have you back it looks like a full house of regular bloggers. Unfortunately won’t be able to do justice to the course material until after my quantum mechanics exam on Monday 7th then hopefully will be able to keep up. As far as I can tell block 1 seems familiar stuff from MS221 and M208 so shouldn’t be to dfiicult to catch up on. Like you I’m looking forward to Logic and Computability more than Number theory itself but I might be pleasantly surprised. I think block 2 of Computabiliy will be heavy going

    Best wishes Chris

    September 30, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    • Good luck for the exam, Chris.
      Sure it’ll be second nature to you. 🙂
      The intro NT is, of course, predictable. I could remember it from previous courses, so no worries there.
      The logic is more difficult but VERY interesting. It’s where my real interest in this course lies.
      That said, the NT should be useful and, hopefully, not too hard as I really need a pass one this year, lol.
      Catch you on here or at your blog buddy as I don’t tend to use the intra-forums within the uni much.

      October 1, 2013 at 9:55 PM

  3. Hey OUMaths!

    I’ve studied MST121, but would like to learn MST326, as I need the understanding of fluid mechanics (want to study chemical engineering). Would you recommend just buying the books and self-teaching? Is it sufficient?

    Perhaps I need to start with MST209, as I might need the grounding it would provide. Luckily there is no pressure as I’m not planning on doing the course (yet).

    Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks. 🙂

    November 2, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    • Hi Adam,
      If you’re at the level now of post-MST209, then, sure, self-study should be no problem.
      If there’s stuff in MST209 you don’t know, then I’d say self-learning MST326 would be a right uphill battle.
      Need a good fluency with applied maths methods, obviously.

      November 17, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    • Chris Finlay

      The first block of MST326 is an introductory block which covers the background you need however it is more revision. I would personally recommend doing MST209 first because you will get that experience in turning physical situations into mathematics an essential skill however you could get away with it just but it would be hard going.

      For the most part MST209 concentrates on 1 dimensional problems and then towards the end it accelerates to give a very quick overview of 3 dimensional problems. MST326 consolidates those. If you do decide to do MST326 then it does require full attention I made the mistake of trying to do music and embarking on the quantum mechanics course as well as doing MST326 as a consequence I didn’t spend enough time doing practice exams and so failed the exam to my eternal shame.

      I may retake the course some time later for my third Open degree but I do have other trhings to do so it will be a while yet.

      good luck whatever you decide.

      If you send me your e-mail you might be pleasantly surprised

      Mine is

      Best wishes Chris

      December 1, 2013 at 12:54 PM

  4. Dan

    Great to see you on the M381 train!

    I have a spot on the wall with an x marked, where I bang my head firmly, each time I pick up the Number theory books. How is your M381 experience going, so far?

    (The Particle Jedi / Number Theory victim)

    November 20, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    • Hey Dan, I can honestly say I am hugely enjoying it. NT fits so well with my previous applied probability and complex analysis study in terms of applications and further study. And the ML side fits very well with my new-found interest in programming, not to mention my general interest in formal logic.
      I’ve hit the point now where free time is spent watching number theory lectures or reading books and course notes outside of M381 – purely because it’s fascinating.
      I had the same experience with MST209 – I used to spend hours in bed just watching multivariable calculus or partial differential equation lectures on an ipod.
      I love the way, in number theory, it’s so easy to describe a problem – makes it so accessible to everyone.
      I’m seriously eyeing the analytic number theory courses at post-grad level – Apostol’s book is on its way to me but I’m looking for a used set of OU accompanying notes.
      I will say, though, the first TMA we’ve just completed is probably comparatively more difficult than the first TMA on either complex analysis or the applications of probability course.
      I want to get a Skype study group going – conference calls – discussing the material and other stuff outside the course, but with TMAs strictly off-limit for obvious reasons.
      For instance, with so many unsolved problems in NT, just discussing ways to potentially approach such problems, even with a fairly basic toolkit, will help all concerned to construct a better arsenal for solving our course problems.
      If you just consider the factorial function – there’s a whole sea of results in number theory you can pull out with it. And that’s just one function….
      This course really is about thinking. What better way to refine thinking processes than in a group of like-minded individuals?
      If a few were involved, and each brought just one problem (unconnected to the course, and with accompanying answer) – eg from an NT book – we would all very quickly get into the mindset of how to approach these problems – this implies that… which must mean this… because that….
      I have a friend who is one of the most gifted mathematicians I’ve met – he’s in his second year of his PhD and has just had some quite amazing (way beyond my comprehension) complex analysis findings accepted for publication.
      When I asked him the age-old “is maths learned or dependent on other factors” question, his simple reply was that he got very good by hooking up with others at uni and burning the midnight oil in private study groups.
      Let me know if you’d be interested – so much easier to learn when like-minded people are on the same page, too.

      November 21, 2013 at 2:33 AM

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