Saturday, November 17, 2007

Change of Interest

Recently I have been somewhat distracted. Not distracted in the normal sense of the word, it's just that I have been adsorbed in different things. Until recently I used to be all about Analysis and Putnam preparation. However, now I am quite determined to become better at coding. Currently I am only working in C++ since it was the first language I learned and decided that I should become somewhat efficient with it before learning others. If things go as planned I should start learning Java by the beginning of my junior year. So far I understand the basics; loops, cases/switches, variable types, and functions, mainly I need to learn more about what the various libraries have to offer and how to best use them. A few days ago I was introduced to the algorithm library, and needless to say this saved me a lot of coding. Now instead of having to write a function to sort the elements of a list/vector/array I can just use the sort function and then move on the more important things. Also looked through the vector library and found some useful functions there, but have not needed to use them as often as the ones in the algorithm library.
To get practice I have been doing problems at SPOJ, my only problem with the site is the insane number of test cases they require your code to run, usually around 20000 or more. So even if your code runs perfectly it might not pass because of the time limit constraint. When this happens I just move on to the next problem and might one day come back and attempt to find a solution with better time complexity (faster algorithm in short). Even though not much "high level" mathematics is involved it is a great place to get practice with problem solving since there is usually an obvious (usually brute force) solution but you try to find one that is more efficient. Kind of like finding the elegant solution to a problem. Another site with good problems is Project Euler, even though their problems are geared towards the mathematically enticed programmer.
Don't get me wrong I am still preparing for the Putnam; currently reading Problem Solving Through Problems (notice how it is no longer under my books I wish to own section). The book is better than all they hype. Sure there are no solutions but if you actually read the sections then there is no real need for one, even though there will be the occasional problem that is just beyond your immediate grasp. Honestly I wish I had purchased this book sooner.
Here is what I will be taking during the spring '08 semester:

Advanced Calculus 2 (MAA 4212) - MWF
Abstract Algebra (MAS 4301) - MWF
Beginning French 2 (FRE 1131) - MTWRF
Managerial Economics (ECP 3703) - Online

Apart from classes I plan to continue with my coding en devours, as well as read a textbook called "Mathematical Economics and Finance". Still debating with the prospect of taking more differential equations classes, so I might go and review my notes from Elementary Differential Equations and actually read the book or buy an actual differential equations book geared for the "mathematically gifted".