maths study via The Open University



Just missed the necessary mark for a grade one on M381.
So, grade two instead.

Have claimed the Open degree.

Have also enrolled on MT365 for next academic year – I have an old copy of the books here and have pretty much read them through on a first pass.

MSXR209 residential course this week – assignment one done to bring with me.

Have also hired a very talented PhD student to teach me post-grad financial maths, as well as a measure theoretic approach to probability, and Lebesgue integration – which has turned out to be great fun.

This will partly underpin what I am hoping to get out of the Big Data MSc.

To that end, I have signed up with Udacity for their nano degree in big data – basically just starting to plough through programming Python. Have to start somewhere.

So, the next 12 months are:
MSXR209 residential, MT365, nano degree, financial maths, measure theory and Lebesgue integration.

As I have recently changed jobs to one where I am a lot closer to home, I figure I can spare 50 hours a week for private study.

M381 exam

Have to say, the exam yesterday seemed very fair and quite representative of past papers.
Ran out of time (as with every exam I have ever done), so hoping I have enough marks in the bag.
Did six questions from number theory and two and a bit from mathematical logic when the “pens down” comment came.

That completes degree one (Open).
Degree two (the named maths) to complete next year, then an MSc in big data (I have finally decided, lol).

Good luck to all for results day.

Cracking on with TMA4

TMA3 away and making reasonable progress with TMA4.

I have also started looking at past exam papers for M381 and have realised I will need to commit a lot of stuff to memory as the handbooks which accompany the course during the exam seem pretty light.

I’m hoping to have TMA4 away by the end of March, leaving me around 10 weeks for revision.

I have “analysed” the question types by sifting past papers and, in the number theory section alone, the following seem a good bet:

Proof by induction

Euclidean Algorithm

Some sort of GCD proof

Infinitely many primes of the form… blah… proof

Least positive residues

Linear congruences

Some form of modular arithmetic proof

Fermat’s Little Theorem

Wilson’s Theorem – applications and proof

Recurring decimals

Sigma(n)/Euler’s phi function

Quadratic congruence

Legendre symbol manipulation

Gauss’ Lemma

Law of Quadratic Reciprocity

Continued fractions

Irrational numbers

Some form of Diophantine equation-related proof


That’s just the number theory side.

The mathematical logic side looks equally long. I’ll detail that later, when I’ve completed it.

One long course, when both the number theory and mathematical logic aspects are combined, for just 30 undergrad credits.


Continued fractions

I thought this was a decent watch as a basic introduction to M381’s continued fractions.

TMA2 back in, TMA3 about to go out

Dropped a mark somewhere on TMA2. All good.

TMA3 has been a bit trying.

Some of the NT caught me out. Can’t say more than that as the assignment deadline is still a few weeks off. However, staring at something and realising my interpretation of it was, well, silly, eventually put that right.

The ML was very enjoyable. Book 4 was a cracker – best read of 2014.
Book 5 was also a cracker but is probably the first book in the course where I had to do pretty much every exercise and additional exercise to get the hang of what was going on.

The ML TMA questions seemed quite doable – couple of potential pitfalls as ever.
The only bit that really caught me (I think – who knows – I might have written complete rubbish for the rest of it) was the final part of the final question – a somewhat odd-looking thing to prove, I thought.

Anyway, that last part took quite a while. There are many ways to go about these questions and it wasn’t until I concluded I was very stuck and needed to rip up what I had been doing that fresh inspiration dawned and, wayhay, it was proved about two minutes later.

I poked my solution with the maths stick, checking it against all known rules and interpretations, pitfalls, etc, I could find in the notes and it appears to work. A very well-designed question to ensure you understood what was in the notes, I thought.

Tomorrow night off, then start on the reading for TMA4.

I want TMA4 away by the end of March, to give me 10 or 11 weeks of solid revision for the exam as, to my horror, having looked at the skimpy handbook, I discovered that none of the tricky stuff in book 5 is even summarised or mentioned in it.

In fact, the handbook just says: “The handbook contains no results for this unit.”

M381 continued

Or, should I say, continues..

I have pretty much finished the logic books for the next assignment – TMA questions over the next couple of days.

Then, it’s time for the number theory books – some good stuff in them, from the looks of it.

Something strange has been happening – causation/correlation, be gone – I’ve been taking low doses of fish oil and krill oil for a few weeks now, and my memory has definitely improved.
So much so, that a poem I wrote aged 12 came back to me today – word for word – decades later.

I’ve written it down. ๐Ÿ™‚

Placebo, maybe, but it’s working.

M381 TMA2 away

Well, away tomorrow after work, anyway.

Q9 now done, I think with a thorough explanation of what’s going on, and some good insight bought into the bargain.

Just need to photocopy it all in case it disappears in the post.

I have had a quick skim read of ML 4-7, leaving 8 aside for now. It looks great – just what I hoped for.

Also had a quick skim through the remaining NT units – more great stuff in there.

I am very motivated to study this material, which is about as good an outcome as possible.

Hope everyone gets the TMA2 result they’re hoping for.

M381 – some more done

NT3 and NT4 seemed reasonable to read.
The NT assignment questions seemed quite removed from the material.
But they got chipped away little by little and, I confess, I have had to spend more time on them than I think I should have. But I have solutions which appear to work, to the detriment of my sleeping pattern.

ML2 and 3 – just lol.
After the first read of ML2, I felt like I did when I was 13 years old and introduced to the laws of logs by our old maverick of a maths teacher, whose name I cannot remember. I remember thinking they were black magic. I thought the same of the wizardry in ML2.
I re-read and the just lol diluted to lol. I even have lol written in some of the margins.
Re-read number 2 (so read number 3) changed lol to hmm.
And re-read number 3 (read number 4) changed hmm to ok, I follow everything they’re doing but still feel as though I’d crumble on these in an exam. (Right now, I would, so I guess I need to structure many hours for revision). Consider this a note to future self ๐Ÿ™‚
I did enjoy the uncountably infinite sets and coding mcgubbins though.

ML3 was less of a testicle ache as there was some computation to do. But then it descended into the depths of hell halfway through and I still (after four reads) find myself being poked by the fiery stick of mathematical hades.

To that end, Q1-8 of TMA2 are done and I still have Q9 to go and, maximally, three days to do it in, unless I choose to deliver my TMA in advance of its cut-off time by some as yet uninvented distance portal.

The logic side of M381 is, so far, nothing at all like I expected it to be. It looks like it turns a corner soon though. I shall be waiting for it as I’ve had enough of this particular street.

M381 TMA1 back and progressing through the next bits

I have been somewhat slack in keeping M381 study going since submitting the first TMA. Lots of other stuff to do, including making progress with some maths courses from alternative tertiary education providers.

To that end, I have set aside 16 hours a week from Saturday to plough directly into M381 – I’m thinking eight hours on each Saturday and Sunday as my, er, social calendar is looking a bit empty for the winter months.

So, TMA1 back – a couple of small omissions on my part and a little red pen where it became clear that I, correctly, answered one question but it was in an out-of-the-box style the university wasn’t expecting. Proof by induction – be gone. ๐Ÿ™‚ [Didn’t specify PBI so didn’t do it that way.]

I am starting to make headway with analytic number theory as a separate interest – I *think* (read, may change direction for the 20th time) I want to have a bash at The Calculus of Variations and Analytic Number Theory I, at least, from the Masters syllabus once the undergrad stuff is out of the way.

Hope everyone got the TMA result they were after.


A cracking little watch

I thought this video was a cracker and ended up with several sheets of A4 of ideas to explore. Maybe others studying M381 will find it worthwhile, too.

Still messing around….

…. with the last two questions of the logic assignment questions.

Several hours invested for, er, lots of screwed up bits of paper.

It’s just gone 11pm. I’m giving this until 4am, then going to bed.

Wired on coffee right now.

Starting another new job (still temporary) shortly, so no chance of pulling 4am jobs then.

Making the most of that luxury right now.

Hoping all doing this course this year do well on it – it has the potential to be a tricky one.

Numero Theorio and the logic behind maths

So, thought I’d better get round to reading the NT and ML books.

Number Theory units 1&2 – thought they were pretty straightforward.
Thought the assignment questions were, too, though two sneaky hidden detonators in the wording of two questions – ignore the subtlety at your peril.

Mathematical Logic – the bit I was looking forward to. Bit more treacle-like for me. Bit more marmite flavoured in places, too.
Constructing Unlimited Register Machines is a pain in the arris…. until you twig two key points, one of which is the huge advantage of jumping to a non-existent line of code just before a program ends naturally.
My TMA URMs are pretty short, but work.
Explaining how they work – ie the underlying logic behind them – for the tutor – well, she’ll have to decode some cryptic clues.

Peeing around with the final bit of the ML assignment questions now – taking longer than wanted.

Anyway, I have until 5pm tomorrow night, then it’s in the post and I am down the pub.

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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).

M337 TMA2 back and first online tutorial for SM358 “attended”

Happy with the score for M337’s second assignment, though some of the reasons given for deducting marks seem very harsh. Bit of a tough audience this time.

Most of the work where marks were lost was included in my original draft, but chopped out of my final write up for being so obvious I thought they didn’t need including.

Can’t elaborate on them as some students may be on a time extension.

Five marks lost, in total.

In other news, I “attended” SM358’s virtual tutorial on techniques of integration and, not being near pen or paper, got to do them in my head, which was interesting to say the least as some weren’t exactly straightforward. Still, I’m all for trying to expand my onboard memory – even if the RAM pack needs to be bigger. ๐Ÿ™‚


M337 TMA2 sent and SM358 books opened

M337 TMA2 went off today, together with my best guess at how to prove something which seemed rather abstract in nature – the bit I was stuck on.

No idea how correct my proof is, but I think it’s probably on the right lines.

Tomorrow kicks off my SM358 Quantum mechanics catch-up, but I have had the books out and Wiki open, turning posh words into normal words – infinite square well potential and all that.

Too early to say much except I opened the first TMA and discovered that a large lump of marks will depend on some fancy prose rather than mathematics, though there is maths in there for plenty of marks, too.

Just feels a bit of a weird and more subjective layout when compared with the absolute rigour of 100 marks-worth of maths at a time.

I’m going to buy some of the books Chris has previously mentioned on his blog to see a lot deeper into this subject than undergraduate level might otherwise go – it does interest me.

Aside from that, and thinking of moving to the outskirts of London in the near future, nothing new to report.




M337 TMA2 is sat here ready to go, apart from one part of one question, which is starting to get to me.

I needed to have posted it today to reach the tutor on time on Wednesday, but have opted to give myself another 24 hours and drive it 70 miles to hand deliver it tomorrow night.

Planning to take 10 minutes down time now, then start back at this part-question, and run it through to about 3am if needs be, then start again tomorrow if I still haven’t cracked it.

A few tricky questions in this assignment, I thought, and careful re-reading of my answers showed me I’d dropped minus signs, compiled silly general series terms, and done some other daft stuff – so draft two was born. ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking forward to 10 days straight of quantum mechanics from Wednesday, at 8-10 hours a day to catch up (I’m just over a fortnight behind).

The plan is TMA3 for complex analysis in by end March and TMA4 in by 3rd week April, putting me a month ahead of the study calendar to get down to some serious revision.

Nothing incredibly difficult in units A1 to A4 and B1 to B4 but I’m not sure how I’m going to remember half of the methods used come exam time, apart from practise.

SM358 books here

My SM358 – quantum mechanics – books have arrived, two looking slightly damaged and one looking quite sorry for itself.

Not sure what happened there.

Will get around to flicking through them tonight.

Until then, I’m pressing them underneath a couple of hundred kilograms of cast iron weights plates to straighten them out.

The maths won

Meetings done, the maths won.

SM358 – quantum mechanics – signed up for, just in time (closing date is today for applications for February).

Complex analysis going well.

The phone

I like my phone.
Not that it’s snazzy or anything, because it isn’t.
But because it’s a great tool for psychology-gazing.

Texts arrive from people from the not-so-dim but exceedingly distant past.
“Hey mate, how are you?” type of things. “Long time no speak. Get in touch.”

Amid the banter and catch-up, there’s a game playing out. I know what it is, but I’m not letting on.
I’m not a great poker player by any means, but I know how to play straight and transmit nothing during the next stage – when the phone actually rings.


“Anywayyyyyyyyyyyy……. I was just wondering if……. you’ve ever thought of dialing back into the writing game.”

Go on.

“Projects, dear boy. Projects. Lots of them.”

I like projects.

“Marketing. Well, not marketing as such. But this does have a certain flavour. Managing change.”

I like managing change.

A complex problem arose. Not complex in the mathematically analytic sense, but one in the business world. The type of thing my uncle deals with.

Maths and people. Checks and balances. Restructuring. Above all, promoting change.

Those final two words made the most sense to me. The reason for the call, with the emphasis on the penultimate nine letters.

The call ended with a coffee gig booked for later this week.

Not 50 minutes later, the phone rang again. My old boss, wishing me a happy new year.
Gratefully received, but I waited for the virtually inevitable.

‘We’d like you back.”

Now, this is effectively a non-starter. Nothing is impossible, but if impossible were infinity, this notion would be tending to it, as n heads through the trillions and ever onwards.

Awkward moments, professionally defused.

Quite the day.

Two days later, the phone rang again – the chap with the job I’ve been contemplating. Same cash, different gig.

This gig sounded better, and there was nothing at all wrong with the cash.

I like this guy – he’s straight to the point, says what he needs to, and does his best to direct a conversation without being seen to do so. Experienced.

The conversation ended with a carefully-exacted judo-sweep of words on my part, leaving the door as widely open as ever before while I work out the plan for 2013.

Jobs are nice.
Interesting jobs are even more desirable..
Add a fair salary and I’m generally salivating, but doing my best to hide the metaphorical dribble down my chin.

But 2013 is my year. For maths. And getting that degree. My “me time”.

It needs to be special to give that up.

I’ll have that coffee. And talk.

But I think the maths will win out.

M337 TMA1 back

A fully marked assignment number one was waiting for me on my return from Christmas visits tonight.
Must have been there since Christmas Eve, which means my tutor was prompt in the extreme in marking it since it only went off about a week ago.

Anyway, nice to see some remarks about rigour being spot on and everything being mathematically correct.

Mathematically correct, but not completely as per how the course wanted it.

For example, now I re-read the TMA, it wants an answer given as a standard parametrization. I got so into this question, which had many prior parts before the parametrization presented itself, and applied so many trig identities to get it into a nice format that, erm, well, as accurate as it was, it wasn’t in standard form. A mark gone.

Another mark went because I omitted to send in a page of my assignment. Not the best move that.

And another mark went because I failed to mention I was using a particular Theorem – I just invoked it like a wave of a magic wand.

Anyway, near enough full marks, so off to a good start.

I’ve done half of TMA2 over Christmas – while the rest of the family was sat there in fits of laughter at the Royle Family, I was booting various bits of the second block around. So, a little ahead at the mo, with the intention to get the second assignment finished by the end of the first week in January, to give me some breathing space to read up on all the physics I ought to know in preparation for SM358 – Quantum Mechanics.

Merry Christmas all.

Complex analysis books

I own two:

One by Priestley entitled “Introduction to Complex Analysis” and one by Needham entitled “Visual Complex Analysis”.

Priestley came highly recommended but seems a dense read to me.

Needham is less well-known in the main, I think, but it’s the one I’m living in.
A few reviews say it requires pre-existing knowledge of the subject in order to make proper use of it. A few say it broaches the undergrad/post-grad boundary (will refrain from topological jokes here).

All I know is:

a) it’s beautifully written – by someone with a good grasp of “English, proper”,
b) it’s full of good quality drawings which illuminate the subject,
c) it helped me to make sense of such things as visualising integrals (as far as is possible) on the complex plane,
d) I’m reading it in tandem with the OU course – OU course for absolute rigour and proofs, Needham for an even more “layman’s terms” explanation of the latest new concept (outdoing even the OU books in this regard, in my opinion), followed by geometrical visualisation courtesy of the well-explained drawings.

Oddly, I’d say someone with a good A level in maths and an appreciation that i, the imaginary unit, exists could make a good go at getting into this book. Such an easy read.

I have two functional analysis texts on the way too – both kick off with defining various metrics but rapidly move on. More on those later – I expect to get very stuck quite quickly.

Useful Youtube channel

Lots of complex analysis videos on Bret Benesh’sYoutube channel.
Here’s just one of them.


It would appear from the perspective of enquiring about income support that being a part-time student is treated like being a full-time student = no cash.

Yet, from the perspective of enquiring about council tax credit that being a part-time student is treated like not being a student at all = have to pay full.


They’ve got it covered both ways.

Ah well, bread and spaghetti hoops it is. ๐Ÿ™‚

Interesting find – PG complex analysis

This looks good.

Click to access pg1.pdf