Using polynomials to solve differential equations

One of the aims of MAM1000W isn’t just to teach you individual mathematical topics, but over time to allow you to see the links between these subjects. Sometimes we do this explicitly, and sometimes you should notice the connections yourself simply by seeing one topic pop up in the middle of another. As I’ve written before, so much of it is about noticing patterns.

Today in class I gave a differential equation which wouldn’t be solvable by any of the methods we have looked at.

y''(x)+\cos(x)y'(x)+e^xy(x)=x^2

This is second order linear but its coefficients are not constant. We don’t have any way in to solve this. We actually wanted to solve this with the initial conditions y(0)=1 and y'(0)=-1.

Actually, that’s a lie. We didn’t want to solve it, but we wanted to get an approximation for the solution close to x=0. This is like saying: OK, so we have a differential equation for population dynamics, or climate change, or the heating of an object, and we don’t worry too much about the very far future, but we want to know what it’s going to do in the short term.…

By | October 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Why did we choose that range for theta when doing trig substitutions?

Remember when we are doing a trig substitution, for instance for an integral with:

 

\sqrt{a^2-x^2}

 

We said that we should choose x=a\sin\theta, which seemed reasonable, but we also said that -\frac{\pi}{2}\le\theta\le\frac{\pi}{2}. Where did this last bit come from?

Well, we want a couple of things to hold true. The first is that any substitution that we make, we have to be able to undo. That is, we will substitute x for a function of \theta but in the end we need to convert back to x and so to do that we have to be able to write the inverse function of, in this case x=a\sin\theta. The \sin function is itself not invertible because it’s not one to one, so we have to choose a range over which it is one to one. We could choose -\frac{\pi}{2}\le\theta\le\frac{\pi}{2} or we could choose \frac{\pi}{2}\le\theta\le\frac{3\pi}{2} (amongst an infinite set of possibilities). That would also be invertible. However, remember that we are going to end up with a term of the form:

 

\sqrt{1-\sin^2\theta}=\sqrt{\cos^2\theta}

 

So if we want this to simplify, we had better choose our range of \theta such that \cos\theta is positive, so that we can write \sqrt{\cos^2\theta}=\cos\theta.…

By | August 2nd, 2018|Courses, English, First year, MAM1000, Undergraduate|2 Comments

Integrals with sec and tan when the power of tan is odd

We went through an example in class today which was

 

\int tan^6\theta \sec^4\theta d\theta

 

In this case we took out two powers of sec and then converted all the other \sec into $latex\ tan$, which left a function of tan times sec^2\theta d\theta. We wanted to do this because the derivative of \tan is \sec^2 and so we can do a simple substitution. If we have an odd power of \tan, we can employ a different trick. Let’s look at:

 

I=\int \tan^5\theta\sec^7\theta d\theta.

 

Here, sec is an odd power and so we can’t employ the same trick as before. Now we want to convert everything to a function of \sec and have only a factor which is the derivative of \sec left over. The derivative of \sec is \sec\tan, so let’s try and take this out:

 

I=\int \tan^5\theta\sec^7\theta d\theta=\int \tan^4\theta\sec^6\theta (\sec\theta\tan\theta)d\theta.

 

Now convert the \tan into \sec by \tan^2\theta=\sec^2\theta-1:

 

I=\int (\sec^2\theta-1)^2\sec^6\theta (\sec\theta\tan\theta)d\theta=\int (\sec^{10}\theta-2\sec^8\theta+\sec^6\theta) (\sec\theta\tan\theta)d\theta

 

where here we have just expanded out the bracket and multiplied everything out.…

Fundamental theorem of calculus example

We did an example today in class which I wanted to go through again here. The question was to calculate

 

\frac{d}{dx}\int_a^{x^4}\sec t dt

 

We spot the pattern immediately that it’s an FTC part 1 type question, but it’s not quite there yet. In the FTC part 1, the upper limit of the integral is just x, and not x^4. A question that we would be able to answer is:

 

\frac{d}{dx}\int_a^{x}\sec t dt

 

This would just be \sec x. Or, of course, we can show that in exactly the same way:

 

\frac{d}{du}\int_a^{u}\sec t dt=\sec u

 

That’s just changing the names of the variables, which is fine, right? But that’s not quite the question. So, how can we convert from x^4 to u? Well, how about a substitution? How about letting x^4=u and seeing what happens. This is actually just a chain rule. It’s like if I asked you to calculate:

 

\frac{d}{dx} g(x^4).

 

You would just say: Let x^4=u and then we have:

 

\frac{d}{dx} g(x^4)=\frac{du}{dx}\frac{d}{du}g(u)=4x^3 g'(u).…

Advice for MAM1000W students from former MAM1000W students – part 5

While I resisted Mam1000W every single day, I even complained about how it isn’t useful to myself. Little did I know when it all finally clicked towards the end that even though I wasn’t going to be using math in my life directly, the methodology of thinking and applying helps me to this day.

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.

By | May 14th, 2018|Courses, First year, MAM1000, Undergraduate|1 Comment

Advice for MAM1000W students from former MAM1000W students – parts 2 and 3

Part 2:
——-

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.…

By | May 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

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.…

By | May 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Missing lectures after writing a challenging test – thoughts from a recent MAM1000W student

The following is by one of the current undergraduate tutors for MAM1000W, Nthabiseng Machethe, who has been providing me with extremely useful feedback and her thoughts on the course from the perspective of a recent student of it. She wrote this to me after a lot of students were disappointed with their marks from the last test.

——

This is based on my perspective as a student. I always plan to attend lectures, however as the work load increases and exhaustion kicks in, it is difficult to keep up with the plan.

It is easy to think of the things one may want (like excelling in MAM1000W) but realistically, it is hard to achieve them. In most instances, you find that students are studying a certain concept with a short term vision (passing a test), which can give one instant gratification but may not sustain in the long run (exam). Hence, one tends to quarrel about the time spent studying for the test not equating to the marks.

By | October 1st, 2017|Courses, First year, MAM1000, Undergraduate|1 Comment

Guidelines for visualising and calculating volumes of revolution

I have seen some people try to blindly use the formulae for volumes of revolution by cylindrical cross-sections and by cylindrical shells, and I thought that I would write a guide as to how I would recommend tackling such problems, as generally just using the formulae will lead you down blind alleys.

I’ve created an example, with an animation, which I hope will help to master this technique.

So, here is a relatively fool-proof strategy:

  1. Draw the region which you are going to have to rotate around some axis. This will generally be a matter of:
    • Drawing the curves that you have been given
    • Finding where they intersect
  2. Draw the line about which you are supposed to rotate the region
  3. Draw the reflection of the region about the line of rotation: This gives you a slice through the volume that will be formed
  4. Now you have to decide which method to use:
    • Take a slice through the volume perpendicular to the axis of rotation.
By | September 13th, 2017|Courses, First year, MAM1000, Uncategorized, Undergraduate|2 Comments

Some sum identities

During tutorials last week, a number of students asked how to understand identities that are used in the calculation of various Riemann sums and their limits.

These identities are:

 

\sum_{i=1}^n 1=n

\sum_{i=1}^n i=\frac{n(n+1)}{2}

\sum_{i=1}^n i^2=\frac{n(n+1)(2n+1)}{6}

\sum_{i=1}^n i^3=\left(\frac{n(n+1)}{2}\right)^2

 

Let’s go through these one by one. We must first remember what the sigma notation means. If we have:

 

\sum_{i=1}^n f(i)

 

It means the sum of terms of the forms f(i) for i starting with 1 and going up to i=n. Sometimes n will actually be an integer, and sometimes it will be left arbitrary. So, the above sum can be written as:

 

\sum_{i=1}^n f(i)=f(1)+f(2)+f(3)+f(4)+....+f(n-2)+f(n-1)+f(n)

 

We haven’t specified what f is, but that’s because this statement is general and applies for any time of function of i. In the first of the identities above, the function is simply f(i)=1, which isn’t a very interesting function, but it still is one. It says, whatever i we put in, output 1. So this sum can be written as:

 

\sum_{i=1}^n 1=1+1+1+1+....+1

 

Where there are n terms.…

By | August 20th, 2017|Courses, First year, MAM1000, Uncategorized, Undergraduate|3 Comments