Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another Fall Semester Gone

So keeping to tradition I'll say a little bit about each of my classes this semester and then at the end mention what I hope from the next one.

Data Structures and Algorithms: (A-)
Quite possibly the worst presentation of the topic I have ever seen. Basically the professor read from PowerPoint slides and had the TAs do all of the work. The TAs; wrote and graded the homework, wrote and graded the test and also had to respond to any questions the students had (even if they were intended for the professor). Luckily I was part of the programming team so I already knew all of the material that would be covered in this class.
The homework assignments weren't difficult at all but rather annoying. Especially when they gave you defective code to use. I would have preferred if we have been told to solve a particular problem, and that a certain data structure/algorithm was necessary. Instead they gave us a template to modify, and you didn't even have to know how to implement a Breath First Search for instance. All you had to know how to do was make a method call to the super class which you were extending. It is quite disappointing.

Topology 1: (A)
Well it doesn't help that about 3 weeks into the course we got a new professor (the original instructor had a stroke). The new professor expected that we knew more than was previously covered and also in much more detail. Needless to say, much of the semester was spent playing catch up. Normally I am a fan of the Moore method (students present all the work/answer questions) but I don't feel that it is appropriate for an introductory course. Especially one quite this abstract. In the end I am ashamed to say that the only thing I took away from this course were the portions that had direct applications to analysis.

Analysis: (A)
Not much to say, we started with a quick (1 day) review of basic things such as the monotone and dominated convergence theorems. After this it was some pretty cool stuff about signed measures. Which lead to the Lebesgue Differentiation Theorem and the Lebesgue-Radon-Nikodym Theorem. At the end of the semester we started with some introductory Functional Analysis (kind of like infinite dimensional Linear Algebra) and talking about Banach spaces.

Set Theory: (A)
The class wasn't that difficult. However, unlike most other easy classes I did like the way this was set up. This is not to say that it didn't have its flaws. This was another class that was taught with the Moore method. The professor would post the problem sets on his websites and then the students chose which problems they wanted to present to the class. The problems, at least the ones that didn't deal with the axiom of choice, weren't that difficult. Mainly it was a class to get students used to providing rigorous proofs to generally accepted facts. I will say however, that some of the results from this class I was able to use right away in some of my other classes, so that was nice. My main problem with the class was the test. All the questions came from the problem sets, so you really only needed to memorize the presented proofs and not actually understand the reasoning behind it. I would much rather have preferred the questions to make us apply something we had seen before, but oh well.

Overall I would say that this was a very successful semester. I managed to get my grades, manage work, do some reading for my honors thesis (which I need to read a lot more for), apply to graduate schools, and see friends every now and then. I'm actually looking forward to next semester, even though it will be my last.
At the moment I am currently signed up for 6 classes. However, I will only be taking 4 (2 will be dropped during drop add), the only problem is that there are 5 that I would like to take and am not sure which to drop. The choices are Theory of Measure and Integration 2, Operating Systems, Theory of Probability and Stochastic Processes 2, Partial Differential Equations, and Moder C++. The problem is that I can't decide between PDE and C++, which I would rather take. I can see both being useful, but one is going to be more work (C++) but it will be more enjoyable.


Harlow said...

You can learn Theory of Probability and Stocastic Processes from a good book.

Alex said...

What the hell, you have so much better class options than I do... I want stochastic processes and PDEs, not differential geometry dammit...

Nick said...

I think that we also offer Differential Geometry, but I'm not really interested.
I guess the only thing that I don't really like is that they are really big on algebra here and not so much on analysis. Though the applied side of the department does do some stuff I find interesting.