February 22nd, 2012

krazy koati

I'm seeing waves breaking forms on my horizon

Back to normal, and back to classes. This week is the first exam in both my Intro to Algebra and my Elementary Statistics classes, which means that I've got very near fifty very nervous students. I didn't think things were that bad --- from the homeworks scored so far I've got satisfactory results in both classes, although the Intro to Algebra might be politely termed bimodal. There's always a few students apparently trying to get negative scores on the assignments they turn in, but, really, the nervousness seems excessive.

However, I did relent in the statistics class and postpone collecting the current homework assignment until Friday. That's marginally better for me since I have less to grade by Friday and can use class time for that work, and from the review we did students were really, really unsure about how to evaluate formulas. Lesson learned on my part: I can't just give formulas to measure quantities like standard deviation, but have to give step-by-step instructions, like, (i) calculate the deviation for each score, (ii) square the deviation for each score, (iii) add up the above into one sum, with notes like how many things they should have to work with. I also need to put more time into explaining how to convert a formula into a procedure.

Trivia: Around 1943, the Axis powers controlled about three percent of the world's natural oil output. The Allies controlled over 90 percent. Source: Why The Allies Won, Richard Overy. (Really, it's a bit amazing the book uses the other 395 pages.)

Currently Reading: Human Error, Paul Preuss. I wasn't sure how much I'd like this mid-80s book until early on one character thinks of how much great artificial intelligence work he's doing since he's one of only three people on his VAX. Plus, there's all this power in his LISP programming. And then in comes the next character who, to emphasize how big he is in computers, boldly asserts that he's bigger than Chuck E Cheese. OOOOOOOOOOH! (It spends a lot of time as a day-after-tomorrow story, based on the invention of biocomputers, and isn't bad. I find Preuss's coinage for the storable enzyme solutions that constitute programs for these virus computers of ``sloppy drives'' so natural I wonder if it's what people in biocomputer work, at least in the mid-80s, actually used.)

All it really misses is a Buggles lyric.