Archive for the 'mathematics' Category

21
Aug
07

When Calvin says so

Yes Calvin from the popular comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes,

This is thick with subtext. Dig and be discover.

In any case for the record, mathematics for all is logic and tedium is a miracle!

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13
Jul
07

Wow!

Just came back from attending a short talk by a (very) young guy who is a professor at UCSD. I will spare you the agony of telling you what he was talking about, although it was not horribly technical.

But just listening to some basic history of the subject matter makes me appreciate the amount of vision and daring some of these mathematicians in the 60s had just to go about putting forth conjectures that has become a guiding philosophy in research nowadays.

Wow! Mathematics isn’t beautiful, its daring.

19
Jun
07

A PSA on the importance of mathematical logic

Despite the undignified title of this post, I promise you that from now on you answer back those shady politicians (conmen!) with their pompous justifications. For instance, how would you answer this charge

” What’s wrong with our economic policies? If it wasn’t the right thing to implement, Malaysia wouldn’t have been so successful right?”

Or this,

” You cannot question government decisions since we enjoy a 92% majority. Questioning us is tantamount to questioning the will of the majority.”

Or this,

” We didn’t do anything wrong. If we did, the regulatory bodies would already have caught us and punished us already right?”

Excuses like this are becoming all to common. Enough is enough! Seriously, people who try to make excuses like this should be given a lecture in the rudiments of stringing a coherent sentence.

” If the sun is shining, the clothes will dry. Well the clothes are dry, so the sun has to me shining right?” So Andy goes out to play football and gets drenched in rain (and a cold). So what went wrong?

In technical parlance, it’s called affirming the consequent. Basically it means that just because the conclusions are correct, it doesn’t mean that the assumptions are.

We all argue in this form:

Assumptions —-> Conclusions.

We make some assumptions, and draw conclusions from it. If the argument is correct, conclusions will follow from our assumptions. So as above, I think we all agree that yes, a shining sun will get our clothes dry. No problem there. So if I want to know whether our clothes will indeed get dry, all I need to check is whether  the sun is shining. Savvy?

But it is very, very, very wrong the find out whether the sun it out just by checking whether our clothes is dry. Because, there are many other reasons why my clothes can get dry on a rainy day. By dumping it into the dryer for instance.

So there’s a short lesson on the rudiments of logic.

As an exercise, lets go through the first three excuses I gave above.

1.  Correct economic policy—-> Successful and prosperous Malaysia. Now, for the sake of argument we grant the conclusion. Does it mean the governments economic policy is correct?

2.  Questioning the will of 92% of the population—–> Questioning the elected government’s decisions. Again same thing…

3.  If we follow the law—->the regulatory bodies leave us alone. By now it should be pretty obvious…

So there you have it. Hope it helps in deconstructing the nonsense that passes of as ‘logic’ on Malaysian TV.

*PSA means public service announcement.

13
Jun
07

Teaching evaluation

I just got back my teaching evaluation report today.

(As a graduate student, I’m expected to teach mathematics to 4 classes of engineering students.)

Some excerpts which I find interesting:

” Perseverance in the face of blank faces commendable!”+

” Don’t go around checking our tutorials, you make us feel like primary school kids…”-

“…Paradoxically thats a weakness too, even if I prepared for tutorial I feel stressed going for his tutorials.”+

+ means that the comment was filed under “strengths” and – under “improvements”

Some comments might as well have come from opposite poles e.g.

One student says,” covers tutorial from head to tail” +

while another says,”He could present more of his solutions instead of asking for student’s presentation..”-

Hmm……life is sure interesting as a grad student.

22
May
07

Personal post: Books and the virtues of Google Reader

I’m down with a ridiculous cough that has me in spasms. Thank God for Strepsils!

But otherwise I’m enjoying my new K610i, snapping up pictures almost every day. Just snapped a picture of a white pigeon today. Doubt that I’ll post it up here. The camera phone has a less than desirable image sharpness.

I’ve finished reading two books. The Open Secret by Lesslie Newbign and another by John Piper, The Justification of God. They are Christian books (and these are Christian leaders) which are very, VERY hard to read. Hehe, I like the challenge after all. It’s definitely worth reading a second, and maybe third time. The former talks about the Christian mission to the world and the second is an exegetical study on Romans 9:1-23. Good stuff, despite their difficulty.

I’m done with Harish-Chandra for a while. Maybe I’ll move on to Schimdt’s, Characters of Discrete Series, but I really need to look into the assignment my supervisor gave me.

Waiting for my video-documentary on global warming to finish buffering. Net connection is slow at night. Starhub!!??
And speaking of which, Google Reader. That’s where I view the feed of all the blogs I usually visit. It’s really cool and cuts down the precious time wasted by visiting a friends blog and finding out he/she hasn’t updated yet…Use Google Reader today, it’s free!

**Now I’m sounding like a Google spokesperson. I should really think about working with Google when I graduate.**

10
May
07

New assignment

Met up with my supervisor today.

Got new assignment. I’ll be busy like a bee for the next one month. It’s both trying to understand new stuff and work out something that’s gonna keep me.

God help me. I need more brain cells.

26
Apr
07

Unequals…

Got this interesting piece of news on BBC.com from Yeo Huan. (Man haven’t seen that guy in years, wonder how he is doing now?)

Maths enthusiasts are being challenged to answer a sample question from Chinese university entrance tests. The tests are set for prospective science undergraduates. The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry is offering a £500 prize to one lucky but bright person who answers the question below correctly.

The question is reproduced below.

Any one up to the challenge? You can leave the answer in the comments box. I haven’t actually worked out the solution. But if I do, I’ll post it in a later post.


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About me

moogleBorn and bred in KL, Malaysia. Now studying for his Phd in Singapore. Learning to walk one fall at a time.
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