Martin's Blog

Journey home

Posted by Martin Orr on Thursday, 13 December 2007 at 20:34

I am now back in Belfast. I came via Holyhead and Dublin on Monday. The first train was delayed, arriving 7 minutes late in Nuneaton, the time my next train was due to depart. So I was late all the rest of the way, and had to get a later ferry than planned, and to Dublin instead of Dun Laoghaire (not that that makes much difference). I got home eventually.

This article begins by remarking that there are no bins on the underground for security reasons. Some English trains and railway stations have bins, some do not; I don't know if this is for security reasons or not. This seems to render rather pointless the careful education we received at primary school to always use a litter bin. But also the effect - at least at Chester station - is that people leave their cups and packets all over the place. Could a terrorist not leave a bomb in a takeaway cup just as easily as in a bin? OK, this limits the size, but so does the hole in many bins.

Last weekend, before I came home, was spent marking the first round of the British Mathematical Olympiad. About 30 people spent a day and a half marking on the order of 1000 papers. This year for the first time marked scripts are to be sent back to the candidates. I suspect these will often be hard to interpret, and it will take a few years for the markers to properly take this into account when marking, but it should be valuable in giving people a greater idea of how the papers are marked and what they did wrong.

no comments Tags imo, terrorism, train

Michaelmas 2007

Posted by Martin Orr on Saturday, 01 December 2007 at 16:55

I have managed to get through an entire term without posting anything - this wasn't intended, but I have been very busy this term. A major part of the reason for that was that I did a lot of work - six 24-lecture courses, where I have done at most five in a term in the past. At the start of term I had only intended to do four or five courses. When I told Imre (my Director of Studies) that I wanted to do Principles of Quantum Mechanics because of its algebraic rather than physical content he told me I should do Linear Analysis, which covers the underlying mathematical ideas needed for most of physics in a very abstract way. This wasn't quite what I meant - QM is mathematically elegant in its own right - but I enjoyed both.

I was convinced to do Probability and Measure, which I hadn't intended to do, but turned out to be the course I enjoyed most. It puts the idea of probability on a rigorous footing, along with integration, and contains a lot of hard pure mathematics - most people, including me, found it difficult.

I also did Dynamical Systems, which looks at methods of figuring out the approximate long-term behaviour of equations which cannot be solved exactly. This turned out not to be as fun as I had hoped. Finally I did Graph Theory (graphs here are simple systems of dots some of which may be joined up) and Coding and Cryptography.

no comments Tags tripos