Sunday, August 8, 2010

Out of the Flatlands !

Today, I commence lecturing in HMS 112 (the second session subject mathematics subject for first year students at Swinburne), which is exciting for me and hopefully also for the students ! Of course, I appreciate that students returning from the break may still be building up enthusiasm for the subject ... I suggest a shot of caffeine and a gentle start.

Why is it exciting ? Because I get to escape the "flatlands" of high school mathematics for once and all; I leave behind x y plots and simple one variable problems and head towards the valleys and byways of 3-D land, where unexpected dips and rises test your powers of visualisation and calculus. Where a slope is not a simple slope but needs to be defined relative to the land around it and where the mathematical symbols get curly and more cryptic !

Even at this stage of the adventure, our powers of imagination are being tested (was is the difference between a circular paraboloid and a two sheet hyperboloid ?) and we haven't even entered complex number land yet !!!!

My advice to students entering this new land .... hold on, enjoy the ride and keep a sense of humour.