# Cannot wait to register for classes!

Two things:

1. I can graduate in May!
2. I might not have to take an Engineering Outreach class after all! I talked to my advisor and told him of my issue, and he looked through the course list and said that he could probably petition to get MATH 420 to substitute for one of the other classes I need (all the other ones offered are through Engineering Outreach). MATH 420 is Complex Variables. According to my advisor, it’s basically calculus with complex numbers. That…sounds…AWESOME.

I hope the petition works.

WOO! I’m stoked for next semester.

# CLASSES!

Classesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclasses
classesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclasses
classesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclassesclasses!!

*Deep breath*

I’m back, bitches! Here’s the rundown:

Probability (STAT 451): This is the class I’ve been waiting for. I think this will be the one where calculus and stats will finally mate in a glorious orgy of bell curves and integrals.

Linear Algebra (MATH 330): I really think I’ll get more out of it this time, especially since Dr. Abo is awesome and I like the way he teaches. Plus there were three of us who got there early and we kind of bonded into a “let’s study together” group, so that’s cool.

Advanced Fiction (ENGL 492): After writing non-fic almost exclusively for quite some time now, it’s going to be interesting to switch back. But I’m excited! I love writing and I love reading others’ stories.

Numerical Linear Algebra (MATH 432): Hmm…not sure about this one. Today we just talked about some of the problems we were going to solve, including ones involving least squares methods and singular value decomposition. I’ve used both of those things in the context of multivariate stats, but never in depth. Though our professor did ask us what were some characteristics of a non-singular matrix and we all kind of hesitated before answering, so hopefully that means that we’re all at least on the same page as far as our familiarity with (or memory of) linear algebra goes.

Intro to Higher Math (MATH 215): Why are 200-level classes the most difficult ones? I’ve never understood that. Anyway, I foresee this being similar to Symbolic Logic (that’s code for insane amounts of work). I’m excited, though. And if I can make it through, I can take advanced calculus (Math…471? I think?) next spring! *flailing*

END!

# Why explaining the Binomial Theorem to a fellow student is a big deal (to me)

Today I explained the Binomial Theorem to another dude in my discrete math class.

“Who cares?” You’re probably saying.

Well, let me tell you a little story.

I used to be good at math. Like, when I was a kid. In elementary school I was one of three kids who were in “advanced math” (we sat in a broom closet and did math out of junior high textbooks. We also gave each other really dorky math nicknames, but I can’t remember mine).

I wasn’t bad through Junior High, either. The only difference was that I’d hit the “who gives a crap about school” phase of my life, so I didn’t really try very hard.

But then I took Algebra II. And I had the worst  teacher ever. He was the track coach, so he was really only teaching so he could stay the track coach. He’d stand in front of the class for about 10 minutes, write out a bunch of equations and graphs without explaining them (seriously), then go back to his desk and review track film for the rest of the period. We were to spend the rest of the time doing a bunch of questions from the book, and he would get visibly irritated if we came up to him to ask questions.

I’m not even kidding.

What’s worse is how stupid he made us all feel when we did ask questions. And algebra’s never been my strength anyway (geometry and calc FTW), so you can imagine the number of berating comments I got because I always had questions. And me being me, I associated the “you’re so stupid” feeling with math, and that quickly turned into “you can’t do math you idiot.”

I’ll spare you all the crappy details, but by about January that year I would literally break out in hives whenever I walked down the math wing of the high school. I managed to stick it out, though, and ended up with like a 69.97%, which turned out as a C minus on my report card. And if you know me, you know that’s HORRIBLE. Even in my “I don’t give a crap about school” phase I didn’t get C minuses in any of my other classes.

The “Claudia’s too dumb to do math” attitude lasted into college as I took Math 143 in fall 2006 (though I submit that class was just a horrible class in general) and had like 40 panic attacks over Math 160 (“Survey of Calculus,” kind of an abridged version of calc I with a lot less integration) in fall 2007. I didn’t hate math—I appreciated everything it gave us and the amazing applications—I just hated doing it. (Which is actually kind of funny, because I NEVER felt like that when I started taking statistics. But I see stats and math as very different topics. But that’s another topic for another blog, so moving on…)

Once I got far enough along in the field of stats, I obviously started doing things that involved a lot more advanced math than anything I’d ever dealt with before (e.g., calculating eigenvalues and eigenvectors in factor analysis). And I think at some point I realized that if I was ever going to get anywhere in stats, I might as well stop being an idiot, face my fear of not being good at math (yes, it’s a fear of not being good at math, not a fear of math), and take some freaking math classes

And so that’s my life right now.

Every once and awhile, especially if I see a problem that I have no idea how to solve, I still get this incredibly visceral feeling of fear and dread and despair and self-hatred over being too stupid to do anything of worth, but I try to fight it and stay calm (well, calm for me).

But yeah. I’m absolutely loving my math classes and I’m really excited to get to Math 451 and 452, the two “Mathematical Statistics” classes, because I’m anticipating some big “click” where the two subjects merge into some beautiful orgy of integrals and probability distributions (and when that happens, good luck seeing a blog about anything else).

Anyway.

I just thought I’d explain that a little bit and give you a reason why you’re seeing a lot of “Claudia spazzes about math” posts.

# It’s tiiiiiiiiiiime…

YES. SCHOOL.

Review:

MATH 176 (Discrete Math): I still dig that we’re going to talk about the pigeonhole principle. Totally excited about the material in this class.

PHYS 211 (Engineering Physics): There are like five of us in there who aren’t physics or engineering majors. This’ll be a lot of work, I think, but it sounds like it’ll be really fun as well. And my prof is awesome.

CS 120 (Computer Science I): Programming in stuff other than R and SAS! I see myself getting really obsessive about this class.

AND my class, which is super late in the day, especially for a stats class (3:30). I’ve got about half the students I did last semester due to the time, but hey…at least I’m not teaching the 8 AM section. I hope my students will like the class (and me).

WOO!

# Nerves

Total distance walked thus far in 2013: 30 miles.

I need a car. And people need to shovel their damn sidewalks. The top of the hill on 3rd is an icy death trap.

Got my books today. I’m taking engineering physics because I want to take engineering physics and the book is GIANT. It looks like it’ll be a really interesting class.

I’m also taking discrete math. The first page I randomly turned to in the book had a discussion of the pigeonhole principle (a This Week’s Science Blog topic awhile back), so I have automatic love for that class. The professor is the same dude I had for linear algebra back in the stone age, so at least I’ll be familiar with his teaching style.

I think I’m actually more nervous about teaching this semester than last semester, mainly because now that I’ve done a class I feel like I have no excuse for any mistakes.

I need to chill. But I suck at chilling.

BAH.

Note: I’m having some issues regarding approving/responding to comments. Just letting you know that I’m not ignoring them (I love your comments, guys!), I’ll get to them as soon as WordPress stops throwing a hissy fit every time I try to type a response to one.

# Are all Culligan men Aquarians?

Now this is a schedule.

I’m going to drop either applied regression (STAT 516) or discrete math (MATH 176) because even with my insane credit-taking, I’m not sure if I can pull 19 credits while teaching. Plus, I’ve heard that calc II is the bear of the calc trio.

But WOO! I love making schedules.

I teach MWF 3:30 – 4:20, by the way. So if you know anybody that still needs to take STAT 251…

# You say tomato, I say existential crisis

Hello for the 2,178th time! Wow, that’s a lot of blogs.

Anyway.

Due to reasons that are still up in the air in terms of whether or not they’ll actually be reasons, I might—might—be coming back to Moscow in the fall.

Yeah, yeah, I know, “make up your damn mind already.” I would if I could, man. This “up in the air” stuff isn’t good for a planning, goal-oriented, future-focused person like myself.

But anyway.

If I come back, I’d like to go back to school (while working, of course) if at all possible. So in order to be able to implement that plan should it become a feasible option in the future, I reapplied for admission and subsequently signed up for just a few credits in the fall.

Better safe than sorry, no?

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy making a schedule that might actually happen.

# Happy birthday, grandpa, we miss you!

DUDES UI FALL SCHEDULE TIME!

Here’s what I’d take. Clicky clicky.

Purely hypothetical, of course…or IS it?!

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!

# Some Days I Miss My Sanity. Other Days I’m Just a Toaster.

So my first week of Grad School: Take II has passed. I’m taking three classes and TA-ing an undergrad course. REVIEWS!

PHIL 9276: Philosophical Foundations of Modern Physics
Word for word on the syllabus: “Week 2: Newton vs. Leibniz.”
HELL.
YES.

PHIL 9606: Hume and Reid on Mental Representation
Next to the veritable demigod that is Leibniz, Hume is my favorite philosopher. I really like the way he tackled he idea of causality and how simply observing a “cause” action and then an “effect” action doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the cause actually CAUSED the effect.
Anyway, this class will involve reading a metric crap ton of Hume plus many of his critics, including Reid.

PHIL 9889: Environmental Philosophy
This is going to be a near exact repeat of my philosophy senior seminar at UI. Which I’m okay with, ’cause it was interesting stuff.

PHIL 2020: Basic Logic (TA)
Yay, logic! This is an undergrad class full of non-philosophy majors and is taught by a PhD student. Once we get to PhD level we’re allowed to actually teach classes; at the MA level we’re just graders/office-hour-holders. I’m hoping that since I’m TA-ing logic for both semesters now that I’ll be able to ask them to actually let me teach it next year, ‘cause I think it would probably be one of the better classes for me to teach given my background.

Cool, huh?

# SO EXCITED

SO!

Here are the classes I’m probably going to take at Western this semester and next. The MA is only a year-long thing there, so at the end of next summer I’ll be done with that and going onto the PhD, assuming everything goes well. For the MA, we need to take six half-courses in total.

Here are the ones I’m wanting:

Fall semester:
Philosophy 9276A: Philosophical Foundations of Modern Physics
“This seminar will examine the background to contemporary physics, particularly emphasizing two aspects: the philosophical views of space, time, and matter that were part of classical physics, and the views of the nature of scientific theory in general– in particular, of the roles of theory and experience, and the relations between mathematical structure and physical reality– that informed, and were informed by, developments in physics. Authors to be discussed include Newton, Leibniz, Euler, Kant, Helmholtz, Maxwell, Duhem, Mach, Poincaré, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schlick, Carnap, and others.”

Philosophy 9606A: Hume and Reid on Mental Representation
“This course will focus on Hume’s and Reid’s contrasting accounts of the foundations of knowledge and the workings of the mind.”

Philosophy 4993F/9889A: Environmental Philosophy
“This course in environmental philosophy explores some ethical and epistemological issues that arise in the contexts of conservation and restoration ecology. We commonly ear that we ought to preserve biodiversity. What are the moral justifications for such a widely accepted normative claim? Finally, this course will also look into the issue of unpredictability. Scientific and applied ecology were for a long time deeply influenced by an equilibrium paradigm in which nature was conceived of as balanced and predictable. But in the 1970s, ecologists started challenged this view and now endorse what some call a “non-equilibrium” view of nature. We will reflect on this new ecology and how it can affect the way in which policy makers and ecologists approach ecological management.”

Spring semester:
Philosophy 9277B: Philosophy of Probability
This course is an introduction to philosophical issues connected with probability. Emphasis will be on the strengths and limitations of a probabilistic approach to confirmation in science. Topics will include interpretations of probability, Bayesian reasoning and its relation to classical statistical inference, how to understand conditional probability, and application of probabilistic reasoning to case studies in science.”

Philosophy 9279B: Science and Values
“This seminar considers the roles of values in science from four angles: (1) Values in scientific epistemology: heuristics and pragmatics; (2) Whose science is it?: authority, governance and ownership in science; (3) Scientific communication and moral life: trust, testimony, and obligation; (4) Choices: goals, risks, and the aims of science.”

Philosophy 9608B: Consciousness
“We will consider several philosophical theories of consciousness, including the HOT theory, AIR theory, multiple drafts, and dual aspect theory. We will also consider the role of science in explaining consciousness.”

Cool, huh?