What can be computed? A practical guide to the theory of computation – by John MacCormick, a review
NB. I was sent this book as a review copy.
It’s not often that a textbook comes along that is compelling enough that you want to read it from cover to cover. It’s also not often that the seed of inspiration of a textbook is quoted as being Douglas Hofstadter’s Pulitzer prize-winning book Godel, Escher Bach. However, in the case of “What can be computed”, both of these things are true.
I am not a computer scientist, but I have spent some time thinking about computability, Turing machines, automata, regular expressions and the like, but to read this book you don’t even need to have dipped your toes into such waters. This is a textbook of truly outstanding clarity, which feels much more like a popular science book in terms of the journey that it takes you on. If it weren’t for the fact that it is a rigorous guide to the theory of computability and computational complexity, complete with a lot of well thought through exercises, formal definitions and huge numbers of examples, you might be fooled by the easy-reading nature of it into thinking that this book couldn’t take you that far.…
On Gravity, a brief tour of a weighty subject – By Tony Zee, a review
NB. I was sent this book as a review copy.
In the era when our eyes are being opened to the Universe in the gravitational spectrum via the recent gravitational wave observations, this book is exactly what is needed to communicate to the general public the beauty and depth of Einstein’s theory of gravity, as well as the interplay between gravity and quantum mechanics which takes place at the event horizon of a black hole.
Starting with the observations of merging black holes black in 2016, Tony Zee takes the reader on a clear and swift journey through the ideas of the incredible weakness of gravity, the basics of field theory, relativity, curved space-times, quantum weirdness, black holes and Hawking radiation, back, full circle to the consequences of General Relativity including the existence of gravitational waves and the detectors now observing them and those which will give us a far clearer picture of the gravitational universe in the near future.…
PDE: Physics, Math and Common Sense. Part I: Conservation Law
Source: CFDIinside blog
The course of Partial differential equations (PDEs) usually is a tough one. There is a number of factors contributing to this toughness:
- PDE course combines the knowledge from calculus, algebra, ordinary differential equations (ODEs), complex analysis and functional analysis. Simply put, there is a lot that you need to know about!
- PDE methods often (or should I say, mostly?) come from physics, but this aspect is not always emphasized and, as a result, the intuition is lost.
- There is lots of abstraction in the PDE course material: characteristics, generalized functions (distributions), eigenfunctions, convolutions and etc. Many of these concepts actually have simple interpretations, but again, this is not emphasized.
- PDEs themselves are tough. In contrast to ODEs, there are no general methods for all kinds of PDEs. The field is young and a bit messy.
This series of posts aims to demystify PDEs and show some general way of handling PDE problems by combining physical intuition and mathematical methods.…
Advice for MAM1000W students from former MAM1000W students – part 5
Surviving Mam1000W isn’t really a miraculous thing. While everyone tends to make it seem like it’s impossible, it is challenging (Not hard) and I said that because I have seen first-hand that practice makes it better each time. Getting to know the principles by actually doing the tuts which is the most important element of the course in my opinion will make sure that even though you feel like you aren’t learning anything when the time comes (usually 2nd semester) it will all click on how you actually are linking the information together.
Another important aspect is playing the numbers game.…
Advice for MAM1000W students from former MAM1000W students – part 4
In high school, as I believe was the case for many students, there wasn’t much incentive to work very hard regularly on math – concepts were easy to grasp first hand in class. That’s the kind of attitude I brought towards MAM1000W last year (2017). Unfortunately things didn’t turn out as anticipated…by as early as April I had already started playing “catch-up” for I hadn’t been putting in any practice on the staff done in class. Tests were nightmares. With every course demanding its share of my attention, I found myself crying the other day alone in my room, asking myself, “what went wrong?”. Well, the answer was pretty simple – EVERYTHING.
Eventually, I figured a way to potentially get back on my feet – I became a very good friend of my WebAssign voluntary quizzes. In combination with past papers (WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and the daily uploaded ‘practice questions and solutions’, I was able to gain back some bit of confidence.…
Advice for MAM1000W students from former MAM1000W students – parts 2 and 3
So one thing that really helped me was having a partner in tuts. We would do the tuts as far as we could and we would then try to help one another in the tuts and ask the tutors for help if there was a difference in opinion.
Another thing that helped studying, going through past papers and tuts were so important.
If I was ever stuck and couldn’t really understand the textbook I would go on YouTube and watch a guy named Professor Leonard. He’s videos are super long but extremely helpful and worth your time.
And last but not least, it’s important that you try your best to work everyday with maths because once you fall behind its difficult to catch up. Even if you do just one problem a day I promise it will help In the future.
and part 3:
I would suggest to MAM1 students that they should not fall behind the maths syllabus if they have tests in other subjects because it is very difficult to catch it up and requires much more effort than one thinks.…
Advice for MAM1000W students from former MAM1000W students – part 1
This is the first in a series of posts where I will be putting up the sage words of advice of former MAM1000W. Often, these students struggled their way through the course, before making a breakthrough in their study methods. I hope that maybe it will be easier to listen to students who have been through the struggle, than the advice of lecturers who seem to know it all (though I promise you, we do not!).
Here is the first:
As an Actuarial Science student I was aiming for 70% last year. I clearly remember that at orientation I asked some of the older ActSci students at orientation what they had done when they scored below what they needed to. I was so shocked, and a little scared when the group I asked said they never had. I wasn’t worries at this stage though because I thought I’d done well at maths at school, and I’d do well at maths here.…
Hypatia, The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher – by Edward J. Watts, a review by Henri Laurie
Review written by Henri Laurie.
This is an important book for anybody interested in the history of mathematics and in the history of women intellectuals.
To recap very briefly: Hypatia is well-known as the mathematician/philosopher who was murdered by a Christian mob in 415 CE in Alexandria. She is one of the best-attested woman philosophers in the Greek tradition.
Watts turns this on its head: he tells the story of a life, one of singular achievement, and one in which the manner of death is not the most important part. The picture he paints is of a very remarkable woman, who became the head of her father’s school at a relatively young age and came to dominate the scholarly activity of her city, at the time one of the three most important centres of learning in the Mediterranean.
It is important to realise that although women did study philosophy at the time, and therefore also mathematics, which was seen as preparation for philosophy, very few of them were able to continue well into adulthood.…
Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics – By John Von Neumann, edited by Nicholas A Wheeler, a review
NB. I was sent this book as a review copy.
I have to admit that I was rather embarrassed to encounter this book, as I had never heard of it, and given the topic, and the author, it seemed that it must be one of the canonical texts in the field. However, it turns out that although Von Neumann wrote this book in 1932 (full German text here), it was not translated until 1955 (by Robert Beyer), and this edition aged quickly, particularly with the limitations of typesetting the equations. It wasn’t until now that a modern edition has been put together, by Nicholas Wheeler, and the result is lovely.
The book is really a collection and expansion of Von Neumann’s previously published works, attempting to put quantum mechanics on a firm mathematical footing. The first chapter is dedicated to the equivalence of Matrix Quantum Mechanics, and Schrodinger’s Wave Mechanics.…