Surface Pro: how I use it – a review

Surface Pro 3I first used the Surface Pro 3 on my trip to Boston to take notes at ReWorkDL rather than scribbling on bits of paper or taking a full laptop and found it to be a great replacement for an A4 notebook, but didn’t really use it to its full potential.  At the start of November, I joined a new company and I’ve been using the Surface exclusively for all my note taking, as well as for studying for my OU Maths modules.

With the recent release of the Surface 4, there may be people wondering if they’re worth it, and what use they’d get out of it.  There are plenty of technical reviews around so I’d suggest using those as a starting point, and if you’re headed out to the sales, you might find my experiences helpful.   Continue reading Surface Pro: how I use it – a review

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

Machine Learning – A Primer

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that I’ve started a new role that requires me to build a deep learning system and I’ve been catching up on the 10+ years of research since I completed my PhD.  With a background in computing and mathematics I jumped straight in to what I thought would be skimming through the literature.  I soon realised that it would be better all round to jump back to first principles rather than be constrained with the methods I had learned over a decade ago.

So, I found a lot of universities who had put their machine learning courses online and have decided to work through  what’s out there as if I was an undergraduate and then use my experience to build on top of that.  I don’t want to miss an advantage because I wasn’t aware of it.

So I picked up two key tutorials from different Professors: Continue reading Machine Learning – A Primer

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

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