Friday, February 16, 2007

Math, not like riding a bicycle.

Laura and I are ride-sharing until we get my Saturn's clutch fixed. This means that I'm keeping her production week schedule with her. I finish work around 5 or 6pm, and we leave downtown around 10:30 or 11pm. In some ways, it's actually been really nice. When I get home, I've got piles of stuff to do. Laundry is waiting for me in the basement, and the cats need attention, there are dishes in the sink, the floors need vacuuming. I've got an impressively large to-do list, too, and I can always feel the beady eyes of little projects peeking at me from corners and shelves. And I can hear my Raven Shield play disc's seductive whisper murmuring enticements from the computer room. Being downtown, a short walk from a good bookstore, in my comfortable office with high-speed internet, is actually a nice break. So I've gotten to spend some time catching up on my online reading. I've been having a lot of fun.

One of the things that appealed to me about my recent job offer was the fact that it entailed learning new things. It occurred to me that there's absolutely no reason I can't do this on my own -- that if learning new things is genuinely important to me I should start doing it on my own, not because it's required for a job. With that in mind, my other free-hours project this week has been studying math. The online world is rife with resources for math nerds. When I started at Purdue math was one third of my triple major (the other thirds were chemistry and physics; yah, I was nuts), and I was good at it. I've been noticing recently how many things I used to know have slipped from my head, and I don't want to completely lose my ability to work with amazingly complex numbers. So I've been working my way through mathematics again. I've been a little surprised this week by how difficult it is to pick it up again. It's not so much the mechanics of doing equations; I seem to have lost some of the core understanding about how math actually works. It's not so much a loss of vocabulary, though that's part of it; I hit a reference to scale invariance, and I had to look it up. Worse, I had to actually think about it for a minute to wrap my head around the concept again. I didn't just forget the term, I forgot what the term applies to. But after much thinking, I'm starting to get math crammed back into my cranium. And it's been fun. I'm glad to know that my 1337 math skillz aren't necessarily gone forever, just dormant. I'm planning on making a project out of doing a little complex math, or reading a little about complex math, every day until I feel like I can make the numbers sing and dance for me again.

1 comment:

NerfSmuggler said...

You may want to check out What's Special About This Number which lists a large portion of numbers between 0 and 9999 and what's special about each one.
Example: 2047 is the smallest composite Mersenne number with prime exponent.
I have no idea what that is.