Two weeks into the summer term and all is going well. I almost aced my first physics test. I got one multiple choice question wrong because I misread the question. It said Y and I thought it said X. Oh well. Likewise, Biology is going fine. Just memorize a bunch of stuff and you can get through it fine.
The class that has given me the most fits is linear algebra. The class is 10 hours of lecture per week: 2 hours per day, 5 days per week. We had a mid term test today covering the first 2 weeks, and we pretty much have one every week now for the rest of the course.
I don’t have to take the class because I took it already at Macalester, but I figured I should take it because I forgot pretty much everything I originally learned. Because I’m just taking the class to learn and I already have credit for it, I’m taking it pass/fail. Its the second class I’ve ever taken like this. I’m getting out of the class what I intended to. I do have a much better understanding differential equations.
For those who don’t know what a differential equation is, its an equation that uses other equations as variables. For example, if you have a function y(x) and the derivative of the function y'(x), then a differential equation might be y` = y. (and for those of you who really care, the answer would be y=ex, because its the only non-zero function whose derivative equals itself) The class is pretty practical as math classes go. Most of the uses of differential equations come from the sciences (heating, cooling, motion, population growth, etc)
Jed took this class last semester and said it was easy. I don’t know if its the 10 hour per week aspect to it or the professor, but its a lot harder than the other classes I’m taking. Solving differential equations is just a matter following an algorithm. Identify the type it is and then apply the technique. There are no proofs involved, just methods to solve problems.
As to the title of this post, I feel dirty because I’m doing only what I have to, to pass. I usually try to learn the subject rather than worry about the grade. If you do the former, the later will come along naturally. However, given how they cram everything into six weeks in the summer, I have to make trade offs. The choice I have to make is pretty easy: focus on the foundation classes that matter and will count for a grade. I don’t see myself taking many more classes pass/fail, but for this class, this term, its probably the best decision.
I’ll cleanse myself of this feeling in the fall when I take number theory/cryptography.