## Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

### I’m done.

February 1, 2011

From its start back in May 2010, this blog has been one big failure. It took me over half a year, but I finally realised that I

– Can’t write
– Can’t present math in a clear fashion
– Can’t be bothered to write posts on a regular basis

At least these things are all true when the language I use is English. So, if Chewbacca lives on Endor, I must quit!

Probably, this implies that I will start a new blog sometime in the future. That could be in a few months, but it could also be in a few decades, I dont know. When the time is ripe, I will let you know. That’s a promise. You might ask why I would want to start a new blog, ever, given the above three reasons why this one failed. Well, because I can say that I learned a lot from this blog, so I can confidentially assert that my writing will be better next time.

Catch you on the flipside.

### Random update

November 23, 2010

The reason for the fact that is has been more than 2 weeks since my last update is simple; contrary to popular belief, I have been busy. With a few things actually. I have been a bit busy studying (who would’ve thought). I have been busy writing my first article (thank you very much), which will be finished end of the week, hopefully. I have been busy playing guitar (obviously, I suck). And, last but not least, I have been juggling like there was no tomorrow (again, I suck). When I’ll improve, I might put some videos of me juggling here. That ought to be fun 🙂 My personal bests are, as of this moment:

3 balls: 12 minutes (close to 2500 catches)
4 balls: 57 seconds (over 200 catches)
5 balls: 15 catches
6 balls: 6 catches
7+ balls: err, no

I’ll update you on all of these things as soon as I’ve got some news.

EDIT 25 november: Woohoo! I flashed 6 balls 😀
EDIT 30 november: I updated a few personal bests. As of tomorrow I won’t do that anymore to be able to track my progress. But right now I’m too happy with my clean run of 15 😀

### PGOM LD AD LD CD

November 5, 2010

A variant on a well-known poem;

The title (basically) said it and I again will say
I’m in my prime; today it’s my 21st birthday!

### All your linearly independent spanning sets are belong to us!

June 17, 2010

(for the ignorant) Yes yes, I own zhe matrices! At last, I, think I, passed my Lineair Algebra-exam. And since I’ve got 5 more exams to learn in the following week, (probably) no more updates until I finished them all. Bai bai

### Our world will never be the same

June 11, 2010

A steady loss of visitors since day 1. Not a single comment yet. Not even a nomination for a Bloggie. But, dont worry; BLAG is still going strong! With today´s one month anniversary as one of its many, many highs! There will be celebrations all over the world. In Johannesburg, South Africa, a football game will be played in honour of the weblog that changed the way people think and made world peace, finally, look like an achievable short-term goal. In Amsterdam, The Netherlands, people will write blogs about the blog that, arguably, is one of the greatest things that happened to human kind, since the invention of the bananabox.

Yes, people. Today, will be no longer the day of the Alcatraz escape. Nor will anyone ever remember June 11th to be the date Troy was burned. Starting this year, the eleventh day of the sixth month will be known as BLAGDAY! Spread the word!

### Self Delusion

June 2, 2010

After I (think I) solved an interesting problem that I found online, say on a forum, I usually go back to that forum to see other people´s solutions. To check if I ´forgot´ some ideas and could´ve solved the problem differently, or how people jot down their solutions if they had similar ideas, etc. What I find remarkable, but maybe that´s my bad, is that it often happens that I have to conclude that my solution is just wrong. Although my ideas almost always coincide with (some of) the ´right´ ideas, I just don’t seem to be able to make things rigorous (although I think I did) or I made some stupid mistake in a standard calculation or so. Apparently I’m extremely sloppy on the details. And that would not be that big of a problem if I would realise that and would be able to fix it by thinking very hard about every step I take in a proof to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes. But the catch is, I think I do just that. But I guess that, when I have an idea that could work, I start to obsess with that idea so much, that I stop being objective and start thinking I’m right about anything related to that idea. And this is bad. Really bad.

On a different, but maybe not totally unrelated note, I love to work with actual numbers. So with, say, 1233 (which btw equals $12^2 + 33^2$), instead of a’s, b’s or x’s. Although I think it’s not directly a problem if I, for example, first calculate some values of a function to see how fast it grows, the more general issue of only being able to solve a problem unless it’s really specific and not thinking about generalizations unless they’re obvious, might be a problem.

But then I realised that Ramanujan was like this too.

### Congratulations!

May 18, 2010

While busy studying (click here if you want to know how that’s going), I almost forgot that my blog turns 1 week today! So, with all my love: Congratulations!

May 17, 2010

Well, see title.

### To teach and learn

May 13, 2010

When you post your solution of a math problem somewhere, there are, very roughly speaking, 2 ways to present it:

1) Like writing a math paper; proving everything strictly, without appealing (too much) to intuition and usually written in a totally different order, than the way it was solved
2) Describing the whole road you took; starting with the problem, initial thoughts, ideas, fallbacks, vague notions etc.

Clearly something in between is possible too. Anyway, I think it’s quite obvious that I went with 2) when I blogged about the coin-flipping problems. And since way 1) of presenting math has a lot of advantages, you might wonder why I went with 2). I’ll tell you.

If someone else than me is actually trying to gain anything by this blog, chances are that he or she is not used to the way math is usually presented. Because, from my personal experience, when I talk to a non-mathematician about math and am, for example, explaining my proof of some theorem or my solution to a problem, the response I get the most is ‘alright, I get this and that when you explain it, but I would never be able to come up with it myself’. This could obviously be due to the fact that that person is just not as smart as I am. But I beg to differ. Well, of course, it’s usually trivially true that I am smarter than that person, but that’s not the issue; I don’t think that’s the reason. The reason that that person (ah, let’s just make that person a she), the reason that she is not able, or thinks she’s not able, to come up with a solution, is just because she never learned to think like a problem-solver. So, if there’s anyone out there that reads this blog and tries to learn something from it, I want to help her (yeah, it’s definitely a her) as much as I can. And I think the way to teach somebody to solve a problem, is to show her some possible lines of thought. Show her the things you thought when you thought about the problem. Show her the ways you tried to overcome certain obstacles on the way. Show her some problem-solving techniques. Some will work on some problems. Most won’t work on most problems. But that’s ok. Because when you give a non-mathematician a problem and ask what line of attack is the best at first sight, she usually doesn’t have a clue. And I think teaching someone how to get an idea, only a tiny little idea to start with, is all you have to do.

Alright, let me rephrase the above paragraph in a language that’s somewhat more egocentric;

Since I´m probably the only one that is actually trying to gain anything by this blog, I have to realise that I´m not used to the way math is usually presented. Because, from my personal experience, when I read about math and am, for example, trying to get someone´s proof of a theorem, or some guy´s solution to a problem, the thing I think the most is ´alright, I don´t get this, nor that, let alone that I will ever be able to come up with it myself.’ This could obviously be due to the fact that that person is just smarter than I am. But I beg to differ. Well, of course, it´s usually trivially true that that person is smarter than I am, but that´s not the issue; I don’t think that’s the reason. The reason that I am (ah, I wish I was a girl), the reason that I am not able, or think that I’m not able, to come up with a solution, is just because I never really learned how to think like a problem-solver. So, since I’m writing this blog for myself and I am going to try to learn something from it, I should try to help myself (nah, being a boy is just fine) as much as I can. And I think the way to teach myself how to solve a problem, is to write down some possible lines of thought. Show myself the things I thought, wanted to think, or should have thought, when I thought about the problem. Show myself the ways I could have tried to overcome certain obstacles on the way. Show myself some problem-solving techniques. Some will work on some problems. Most won’t work on most problems. But that’s ok. Because when I see a problem and ask myself what line of attack is the best at first sight, I usually don’t have a clue. And I think, teaching myself how to get an idea, only a tiny little idea to start with, is all I have to do.