Subject: [mat5920] pre-Easter message
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 16:19:50 -0400
From: "Robert Jantzen" <>
To: 5920 04S <>


today I slaved for hours over all the end of chapter X.5 problems and aXa and aXb worksheets from each chapter X for X = 3 and 4 and 5 that are posted on each of your class websites
and commented them and returned them as attachments to you via email.

At this point I would like to remind you that one of the important goals of this course is to give you some experience in mathematical report writing. It is especally important to know how to communicate technical material to others and this means explaining what the problem is (end of chapter problems require problem statement), and explaining why you are doing each calculation and interpret the results (maple inputs and outputs in a worksheet require comments for motivation and explanation).

If the reader has to do any additional thinking steps to interpret your result, it means that you have not explained enough. Certainly when you run into something you don't understand, you should comment on this too rather than trying to ignore it. Knowing what you don't know is important also.

Our book has been leading us down a path of increasing experience with Maple and stretching beyond the introductory ideas in the undergraduate math curriculum. The 3 projects in the appendix have guided instructions but no back of book explanations. Similarly if you pick a project in another area, you will be your guide (with help from me). The course in the end is only a baby step itself in showing you that you can attack problems that are not just content driven course recipe type math problems, but which perhaps start with such a problem and suggest an open-ended investigation. Mathematical thinking is not easy to develop, but by doing math for some years as you have been, hopefully some aspects of it have found their way into your own approach to new
mathematical problems. Ideally this course gives you some freedom to have fun with a wide range of topics with no pressure to have to "memorize content".

We still have just less than a month to go till our "final exam date", but this Easter break is like subtracting a week almost, so while we continue to finish off chapters 5 and 6, give a look to the appendix A and start thinking towards a project either from those 3 or of your own choice that you can confirm with me is do-able in a reasonable time frame.

Please try to catch up with the assignment worksheets and end of chapter problems, picking one as indicated on the web log from chapter 5. We will try to do what we can in chapter 6 after Easter, possibly cutting it short to do projects.

I am almost always available in the afternoons for discussion.

take care,