Midterm post-mortem

OK, so I’m done all midterms (except the second one for STAT 231 which is tomorrow). Here is how things went.

CS 245, “Mathematical Logic for CS” (Trefler)
The assignments, so far, have been pretty straightforward. His midterm was on propositional logic, but there were no deductive proof questions (single-turnstile); it was all double-turnstile stuff. It was nothing all that challenging. The course average was pretty high (around 82%, I think). However, if you are doing a pure math major like me, you may have developed your own style of writing proofs, and may leave out some details from time to time. The TAs in this course are stubborn and will mark your paper extremely harshly if you do not write out your proofs in the most pedantic, slow manner possible. When working on the exam (which is almost all proof questions – not surprising since it’s a mathematical logic course), make sure you literally spoonfeed. every. single. logical. step. Even something like “(A or B) and (A or C) is true, and A is not true, therefore (B and C) is true.” A statement like this, they will claim, “needs more explanation”. So be warned. Also, STRUCTURAL INDUCTION. It’s a pretty simple concept that a lot of people can’t seem to fully grasp. Put the time in and learn it. If you don’t understand structural induction, deductive proofs, etc., this course will tear you apart.

CS 246, “The C++ Boot Camp Course” (Holt)
OK, I skipped almost every lecture of this course up until the midterm. I read all necessary sections of the notes the day of the midterm, and it was simple and straightforward. The assignments for this course are also pretty quick and easy compared to my other courses; I do them the day before they’re due normally.

MATH 146, “The Identity Map is an Automorphism” (Ng)
Easy assignments, and the midterm asked random stuff about the Axiom of Choice and theorems from set theory like the Cantor-Bernstein-Schroeder theorem. There was honestly almost as much set theory on the midterm than linear algebra (also, there was a question about even and odd functions which seemed kind of analysis-y.) I respect the prof because you can tell he’s a really serious mathematician, but the course is full of brilliant people who are honestly snoozing through the lectures and finishing the assignments in 5 minutes. I think the material should be covered at a faster pace; this is a pure math course so less examples are needed to demonstrate concepts. Assignments should be more on par with the difficulty of the “Bonus Questions” so that students are prepared to do the kind of critical thinking that the exams require (midterm average was a 71%, adjusted to an 80%.) This guy gets pretty creative with exam questions.

MATH 249, “NO! Not another q-Analogue!” (Godsil)
The enumeration part of this course was easy, for the most part. The midterm had 26 marks, and 2 main things that tripped me up: a question asking to use partial fraction theory to find an explicit formula for the coefficients of a generating series (I never really did fully understand how this worked, so I took the bullet here), and a rather subtle question on the generating series for a class of integer partitions (the proof depended on an algebraic manipulation I just couldn’t come up with.) There were no questions on q-theory, although it will probably be on the final, and it’s pretty hard to understand. Basically, q-theory is what happens when you take a bunch of things in combinatorics and slap in a q in the middle of the formulas, thereby generalizing them. When you take the limit as q \to 1, boom! You get back the old formulas. But there are a lot of very subtle aspects of it, and it has intricate relationships with integer partitions and their generating series, self-conjugacy, and so on. Also, when he starts graph theory, watch out. I’ve been doing the assignments usually the day before they’re due all term, and suddenly with this assignment, I was unable to finish much of it because the problems were mostly on graph theory (which I have very little proof-writing experience in) or q-theory (which I don’t understand well and am terrified by.)

STAT 231, Statistics (Banerjee)
Amazing professor teaching a course that sadly does not interest me all that much. I study for this course similar to the way I study for CS 246 although I can’t slack off as much in this course. First midterm was a lot of terminology-based questions with some stuff on likelihood functions and normal distribution. Because of the focus on qualitative material I didn’t really like this midterm. Second midterm was tons of questions on confidence intervals, more questions on continuous likelihood functions, etc. Much more mathematical/quantitative, and therefore, a lot easier.

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About mlbaker

just another guy trying to make the diagrams commute.
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