Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Math Class

So the math class I'm taking this semester has been quite entertaining and definitely different than any one I've had before. The professor, Gilbert Strang, is a well-known figure in the math world, and is arguably the nicest human being on the face of the earth. Who else thanks students for asking questions? Or asks permission to teach us the next step (which makes him giddy most times)? It clearly gives him great joy to teach us (and it should! Imagine the broad range of people taking this class...over the next many years, these MIT students will be at the forefront of their respective fields' innovations, using the computational techniques he teaches us to drive the progress of technology.)

Prof. Strang has long since become one with matrices and his teaching style reflects that (if you can somehow imagine that....).
Well anyways, the most entertaining part of this course has probably been reading the textbook. EXACTLY as he teaches, the book is written very colloquially, in an almost stream-of-consciousness sort of way. I didn't even realize that textbooks were allowed to be published like that.

Here are some fun examples:
"I very much hope that you will come to know and like these special matrices."

"These multiplications are a beautiful key to the whole chapter."

The K matrix is "symmetric and more beautiful"

"That matrix is A(transpose)!! A proper author would never use two exclamation marks - I apologize."

"May I list some properties?"

"I hope this section is enjoyable."

something about a mathematician dying in a gunfight in the 1800s....

"(from age 7)" : preface to the first problem which just involves simple multiplication

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