Rushed TMA – not my finest hour

Studying on a train
How I started the course…

It’s probably not a huge surprise that with a lowering of tweets and posts on this blog that I’ve been pretty busy.  Today I got the results back from my second rushed TMA and I’m disappointed, but I’ve nobody to blame but myself.

The OU is pretty clear that you should study about 16 hours a week for a 60 point module and about 8 for a 30 point module.  As I’m doing M208 (60 points) and DB123 (30 points)  this means 24 hours of study alongside a (very) full time job.  Given my love for maths and the ease with which I do pick it up, I got away with less than half the recommended time and still got distinctions for the level 1 modules I’ve done so far. Continue reading Rushed TMA – not my finest hour

Studying by train

Studying on a train
Studying on a train is fun 🙂

The new OU term started on the 3rd October, but I’ve been working on M208 for four weeks now (although am yet to really do much other than skim through the introduction for DB123).  I had a grand plan of confining my studies to the time I spent commuting by train and tutorials as I knew that I would have very little time outside of these short windows to dedicate.  So how have the past 4 weeks gone? Continue reading Studying by train

Getting ready for M208 and DB123

M208 workbooks
M208 study materials for the next year…

It’s that time of the year again.  Twitter is full of people posting images of all their books for new OU modules with excitement ahead of the October starts.  I was no exception with M208 and DB123  both on the cards for this year.

This year means the start of level 2 modules with M208 Pure Mathematics, which is a 60 point module (the equivalent of a half a normal university year) but also the 30 point DB123 Personal Finance as I had to complete level 1 in parallel if I was to start level 2 this year1.  So, in addition to a full time job at a start up company2 I am also doing the equivalent of 3/4 full time on a university course. Continue reading Getting ready for M208 and DB123

Studying Maths – decisions on level 2

M208 text book for maths level 2
M208 – people of a certain age will look at these text books and think blockbusters…

At the weekend I signed up for my next maths modules with the Open University.  I’ve got three distinctions in the level 1 modules and, aside from my severe annoyance with being forced to do a level 1 module I’m not interested in as “punishment” for skipping the easy start module1,  I was desperate to do the next module.  However, I dragged my heels this time. Continue reading Studying Maths – decisions on level 2

MS221: Illidan was wrong

Illidan defeated, I was prepared :)
Illidan defeated, I was prepared 🙂

So the results are starting to come out for the OU exams taken in June.  Those who were on their last module have got their final degree classification and for the rest of us we’re getting our individual module scores.  Despite not being due for another 8 days, the results for MS221 came out today.

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I really hadn’t focused on studying for this module as much as I should and, with a new role taking up my time in the evenings and weekends I just hadn’t revised as much as I should have done.  I even took my text books to the ReWork DL conference in Boston but only opened them briefly on the plane on the return flight. So how did I do?

Continue reading MS221: Illidan was wrong

MS221 – was Illidan right?

So, a few days ago I tweeted that I had this snippet from World of Warcraft going round my head where Illidan taunted that we weren’t prepared for what awaited us.  It was how I felt going into MS2211 and now that I’ve done the exam I wanted to reflect on why I’d ended up feeling unprepared for a test in a subject I am very enthusiastic about for a degree I’m doing for no direct gain other than for the fun of learning.

I started this degree back in 2013 because I was intellectually unstimulated in my job.  I was busy, spinning many plates and wasn’t bored, but there just wasn’t anything to do that really set my neurons firing.  I’d started the process of looking for another job for a whole host of reasons I won’t go into, but I could feel my brain getting “comfortable” at not having to think much beyond which of my team needed to do which task in what order in response to changing priorities.  So I signed up to do the maths degree I’d always wished I’d done. Continue reading MS221 – was Illidan right?

Preparation for MS221

So – I’m approaching the end of my third OU module, MS2211, and the exam is in a few days.  I missed all the local revision tutorials through being away with work2 and, despite some good intentions, I am woefully behind.  Consider this a crammer’s guide for learning university level mathematics in 3 and a half days 😉3.

MS221 consists of four blocks: block A covering sequences, conics and geometry; block B covering iteration and matrices; block C covering more complex4 integration and differentiation and Taylor Polynomials; and block D covering complex numbers, number theory, groups and logic and reasoning5.  The exam allows an annotated handbook and so it is fairly easy to prepare given a few days of dedicated effort, which (if you’re reading this in time, may help6. Continue reading Preparation for MS221

Proof by Induction

In my last post I talked a little about logic as it applies to generic statements.  Now it’s time to think about more mathematics proofs and different techniques.  As part of MS221 there are two proof types that we need to consider: proof by exhaustion and proof by induction.  This all lays the foundations for building more and more complex mathematical statements so it’s important to get the basics right.

Dominoes
Wikipedia: Domino effect

Firstly, proof by exhaustion.  This simply means that we try every possible valid input and check that the result is true.  A single false result would disprove our proposition.  So let’s consider an example:  Continue reading Proof by Induction

Proof and logic

The final part of block D in MS221 of my OU Maths degree is all about mathematical proofs and deduction, which I find absolutely fascinating.  A big part of this block was clarity on some logical fallacies that we encounter all the time and that many people use to trick us into agreeing with their arguments.

XKCD: CorrelationXKCD: Correlation

With one week to go until the General Election in the UK it seems like a good time to revisit logic and proof from both the political and mathematical sides.

Continue reading Proof and logic

Public-Private Keys

This morning I had a tutorial for module MS221 of my OU Maths degree.  In addition to complex numbers, groups, and proofs one of the topics we covered was RSA encryption and decryption.  As I’m a little behind in my study I’m going to use this post to explain how this type of encryption works (even though this is already covered elsewhere e.g. in wikipedia).   You’re going to need a little maths to follow this, but hopefully not too much!

Firstly, a quick recap.  Public-private key encryption means that you have a pair of keys – the public one you can give out without a care and anyone can use this to encrypt messages to you.  Without the private key to decrypt, it’s practically impossible to decipher the encrypted messages, so as long as you actually keep your private key private, everything is (relatively) safe.  As an aside, if your private key is obtained by someone else then they will be able to read your messages and you would never know.

Continue reading Public-Private Keys