February 7th, 2007

math: do it sans limit

On Math and Slacking

Today was a repeat of Monday. I left my room at 8:30 this morning and didn't return until 9:00 tonight. Wow. Actually, to be fair I spent most of the afternoon in the LSC working on my problem sets. I finished the probability set, including the bonus! Yay! I love the class, but I feel like I'm just breezing through it. I mean, Dr. Riddle's doing a good job teaching it, and the problems are really good, but I don't feel like I need to put much effort into the class. It's pretty much the same problem I had with DEs last semester, where most of the problem was figuring out what the question was asking, and I never had to put forth ridiculous amounts of effort except during tests. Sure, I'll have to think about a problem, but it doesn't take quite as long as more abstract problems do (e.g. number theory), and I don't feel like I'm challenging myself enough. And when I'm not challenging myself, I get bored, and when I get bored, I slack off, even if the topic does interest me. It's basically what happened to me in my middle school and high school math classes. I got bored because everything was taught on one level, I picked it up quickly, and nobody noticed or cared that I understood what was going on while others were still grasping the concepts. Since we are talking about upper-level math courses here, ... I don't really know what this means.

Now, number theory is another story. I understand the basics, but when it comes to proving things, I really do have to think about it. It's not a simple thought process, only to be greeted by an instant answer, either. It's way more complicated than that. Sometimes I'll find a problem that I have to think about a problem for hours or even days. But when the answer does come, so does a mathgasm. Those are the most cherished moments in mathematics, and they remind me why I'm in math in the first place: the curiosity, the creativity, the discovery that I, too, can change the world in a tiny way.