Wednesday, 6 August 2008


It's actually a nice afternoon and I'm feeling a bit better! Yay.

However, I have managed to find no way of making the normal distribution exciting, intriguing or even comprehensible, so I am carefully avoiding it. If any of my reader who's done stats would like to explain (in the customary words of fewer than or equal to one syllable) it then I'd be grateful.

Having switched from Pure to Stats in my maths studies, I've noticed this interesting effect: I find Stats incredibly boring. And I was advised to choose Stats over Mechanics on the basis that it was more relevant. Huh.

This proves that relevance is not and should not be a criterion for education.

Mind you, having said that, I am convinced that it was my purchase of "Imagining Numbers" by Barry Mazur that sent me into this guts-ache in the first place: I still have no idea what the square root of minus 1 may or may not be, and i am on p170. Also despite being inordinately pleased with myself for being able to complete the square on the quadratic, I took one look at the equation for the cubic in this book and fell over. To think I had been merrily factorising cubics and all along there was lurking beneath.

I've gone back to reading children's books.

I still fancy completing the square a bit though...a little bit of dy/dx...simultaneous quadratics...areas under curves...equations of tangents and normals...polynomials...*sigh*. For me it is that I can see little, if any, practical use for much of this (though of course I am assured that there is loads) - I do it because it makes my brain work and because it is fun. Copying normal distribution tables out of the back of the textbook is neither of those things. And I am not doing A Level Maths to read - or WRITE - sentences!!! I was utterly gobsmacked to see questions telling me to write sentences to explain stuff!!

ps - if you are afraid of equations, or are of a sensitive intellectual disposition, look away now:

..and that, I believe, only gives you part of it.

1 comment:

Liz said...

There can't be a square root of -1. Dr Stu has tried to explain imaginary numbers to me before but I prefer my imaginary friends.

And I speak as someone with A-level Maths.