Saturday, September 29, 2007

Repeating History & Academic Snafus

In ancient history before the Internet, your humble blogger worked as an engineer for IBM in Tucson. I took some math classes at the University of Arizona for fun (long before teaching anything), and wanting an easy semester one time I took a hiking buddy's advice that Introduction to Topology would be easy and fun. He had enjoyed it, so I enrolled in Math 434, Introduction to Point Set Topology (also long before the real math days). Within two weeks, I am so lost I couldn't tell you if my butt was open or closed, much less compact or continuous.

I am drowning in epsilons and deltas as the course spanks my academic fanny all over the classroom. About four weeks into the course I turn to another student, "I thought this course was supposed to be easy."

He turns, completely bewildered, "This is one of the hardest undergrad classes in the math department."

Furious, I chase George down, "What the #$@#@%$ are you telling me that topology was an easy class, you #@#$#42 this is not funny!"

George makes a face, "I took intro to topography. It was fun. We cut out pieces of construction paper and glued them together."

Construction paper.

Flash forward 20 years. Eager to focus on a dissertation, I wanted an easy overview course just to fortify my statistics a little. I am told that a basic econometrics course would be an easy treatment typically provided to MBA students.

MBA students? If MBA students are taking it, it has to be pretty easy, and some of those MBA's are pretty cute, so why not? I should have known something was amiss when a) no MBA students, b) no one was cute, and c) most of the class comes from Asia.

This coming Thursday I have a midterm. The first page of notes looks like this.

That's page ONE. The other day the professor remarked with a smile, "We've now completed the pedestrian material."

I am getting too old for this sort of terrain. You know what they say about those who don't learn from history. Can't I just press a button?

5 Comments:

Blogger Sirocco said...

Sorry ... if I had known you were looking for "easy" I would have warned you away from Econometrics.

9/30/2007 6:52 AM  
Anonymous the doctor said...

Ha! Ha! Ha!

Love the cartoon. Regarding the econometrics, I don't feel sorry you at all. Silly Phd student. You should be embarrassed for not checking it out. You deserve what you get.

However, the topology story is hilarious. I can just see you sitting in that class as the instructor delivers proof after proof and definition after definition. Ha! Construction paper!

9/30/2007 11:44 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Sirocco,

Don't you dare apologize. Stopping me from such folly is not part of your job description.

I'll live, and the rigorous grounding in regression adds chutzpah that may come in handy.

Roger was right a few weeks ago. I've used R-squared for years. Now I know how to derive it. There's a certain irony here as I complete my last course for my last degree. Mathematics returns from the past and gives me a swift kick in the ass.

I had it coming.

9/30/2007 7:36 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

Math has always kicked my ass, and pursuing a degree in it sounds like torture to me. You have my sympathy, well, as much as I can give any self flagellator.

10/01/2007 3:37 PM  
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