## Doh!

Well, today I had one of those seriously annoying “derrr…. what’s going on???” moments for something that should be so utterly basic (at least I think it is basic).

It was a simple algebra step (when working with the closed form of a linear recurrence sequence) that tripped me up. I just sat there trying to figure out what just happened and why I could not figure it out.

From this:

To this:

I think I need a quick review of algebra. This should be child’s play to me! *cry*

P.S. I did actually figure it out before posting this, I just thought that I would post my pains to the world.

## Coffee and Energy Drinks. The Real Way to Study!

Well, I have just finished and submitted my first two assignments. I did however leave them a little too late and was required to nearly pull an all-nighter to get it done (lots of coffee and Blue Charge energy drink helped). Lesson learned: Study **much** harder and begin an assignment as soon as it is presented! I will have to beef up my effort in order to remain competent.

I have already received a first mark of 92%. Pity the first two were preparatory ones and will not count toward the final score (still pleased as punch). As long as I keep up a score percentile similar to that I’ll be happy.

Starting to learn to use Mathcad as a tool. The whole environment is new to me, so it will take some getting used to. But from what I read, having a good knowledge of a few programs of a similar nature (Mathlab and Mathematica) will help land decent jobs later. So it is worth it in the long run.

Bought a new mountain bike. A little rickety and squeaky but it works (changes gears when you push too hard though). This will be getting me to the library that is further away, the one that has much better mathematics and physics books. Now I just need to sort out lunch and I’ll be set!

## LaTeX Typesetting

For those who do not know, I decided to make this post.

LaTeX (often written as ) is a professional-grade mathematical typeset used in most academic papers. It is also used on most websites and forums, including wordpress.com.

To include an equation in LaTeX is easy and simple, all that you need to do is use the tags:

$ latex equation $ (without the space between the $ and latex)

An example of LaTeX in action:

(Quadratic formula)

The code for the above example is “x={-b\pm\sqrt{b^2-4ac} \over 2a}” which you can also check by hovering your mouse over the image and the tool-tip will give you the code used to generate the image.

As you can see, it is a **very **useful tool to have. It makes explaining things on forums and websites much, much easier.

Some basic tutorials to start with:

http://www.andy-roberts.net/writing/latex/mathematics_1

http://www.andy-roberts.net/writing/latex/mathematics_2

And here is a list of the codes that can be used:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Displaying_a_formula

## Algebra for Colleges and Schools

After some contemplating I decided to look for a new book to learn algebra. While Algebra Demystified is a perfectly good book to learn from, I felt that it lacked a certain something. It just did not have the depth I was looking for. Perhaps I will return to this book afterwards as a quick refresher.

After a very brief look around the internet, I got hit with literally thousands of different books covering all levels of algebra. Trying to sift through them to find the best of the lot is like looking for a blue needle in a stack of slightly lighter blue needles. So I started to hit the forums as it appears to be a common question among budding learners; “What is the best maths book for ___?”. A few were mentioned here and there, so I looked them up on amazon.co.uk, checked out the reviews and sample pages. None of them offered what I was looking for unfortunately.

During one of my many random browsing sessions (which had nothing to do with anything math or physics related) I stumbled upon a gem. A fantastic math book called Algebra for Colleges and Schools written by H. S. Hall and S. R. Knight. Although it was originally written in the 1840’s (although it has had many revisions) it is still a great math book, as lets face it, math has not changed all that much in over 1000 years. Also, because it is so old, it has lost its copyright and has entered public domain. Meaning I may share it with you (I have also attached the answer booklet. The answers seem to match although I am not 100% sure that it is the correct answer book).

As you will come to see, this book covers *a lot*, unlike many modern books. Not only that, it appears to teach in a fashion that is much more easily absorbed and understood while not dumbing down the content.

Algebra for Colleges and Schools [1918]

Answers to Algebra for Colleges and Schools [1898]

I have not actually started this book as yet (and I will not be able to tomorrow as my grandmother is coming over for her birthday) but from Friday I will be able to give a much more in-depth report.

## Algebra Demystified

Well, after some hunting around I decided to give Algebra Demystified (Rhonda Huettenmueller – McGraw-Hill) a go.

Only 30 pages in out of 450ish and I am already liking the way the book is set out and how everything is explained (although I have no other books to compare it with so it might not be great in comparison to other books). I am hoping that I get a good grounding using this book, but I’ll probably go through another after this one just to make sure I understood everything (and more questions never hurt anyone) and did not miss anything out.

I am unsure if I should focus on one topic at a time or cover a few, switching it up when I wish to. The way my mind is wired right now, learning a singular topic but very thoroughly is preferable (but would be better to try emulate the way I will learn at university).

No other news to report from anywhere. World of Warcraft game time ran out, and so did the addiction 😀 although I do wish that I could say the same about smoking… sigh

## Countdown to Mathematics

Just a small find that I thought I would share.

On the MST121 homepage (http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/mst121.htm?countryCode=EUR) at the bottom of the “Preparatory work” section there is a recommendation to go through two books before getting your revision material from the OU.

*Countdown to Mathematics: Volume 1 (1981 – L.Graham & D.Sargent – Addiso**n-Wesley)**Countdown to Mathematics: Volume 2**(1981 – L.Graham & D.Sargent – Addison-Wesley)*

Looking at the first volume’s table of contents it appears that it covers the exact same topics covered in the free Maths Skills booklet provided by The Open University. However it is the second volume that takes you a little further (covering algebra, trigonometry, etc.). Although, as I remember it, it still does not cover everything learnt in secondary school. And at the price of around £30.00 each it seems a little difficult to justify purchasing it (although it also has good reviews on Amazon).

So bottom line, if anyone can convince me to buy it (at the very least the second volume) I will do so.

## Maths Skills – Finished

So I have finished the Maths Skills book from The Open University. Although it is a lot shorter than I thought it was (only 139 pages, as the remaining 166 are made up of answers). All in all, i’d say the “Maths Skills” booklet very useful to keep handy. Gave me a rock solid understanding of the basics.

Now I have to either start studying from my own materials, or wait for the Revision Pack that comes with MST121. Also, they recommend that you also are familiar with the following before starting MST121:

- The arithmetic of whole numbers, decimals and fractions (including negative numbers, powers and roots).
- Algebraic manipulation, such as multiplying out brackets, factorisation of simple expressions, interpreting inequalities and solving linear and quadratic equations.
- Properties of triangles, rectangles and circles.
- The trigonometric ratios sine, cosine and tangent.
- Equations of straight lines.
- Quadratic, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions, and their graphs.

So if I have to wait long for the revision pack, I might just start revising some of these.

Also, for anyone wondering about MST121 and MS221, I have found a nice website that shows exactly what books are supplied with the course (although they are dated from 2007/2008 so some things might have changed).

http://www.gandraxa.com/mst121_using_mathematics.xml

http://www.gandraxa.com/ms221_exploring_mathematics.xml