Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Monday Mornings

Monday mornings; aren’t usually the best time for me to attend uni classes. Actually this is my first year in which I’ve had a class on Monday morning. In my first year, the class that I had on Mondays started at 3pm and in second year, 2pm. The first term of my final year, I had class at 2pm as well. 

This term however, the class starts at 10am. I suppose it should be OK seeing as I chose to study this course (in the final year of my degree, we have options that we need to chose from).  Honestly, I do really enjoy this course as we can put other aspects of our learning into this course. This course does involve a lot of computing work as we regularly have to use Microsoft Excel to compute different differential equations using a wide variety of numerical methods. Currently we have learnt about the Jacobi and Gauss Siedel method. These are two methods which we learnt about from last year in our Liner Algebra class, and now we are using these two methods in a different context. 

From attending classes, I have learnt that it’s really useful to keep up with last year’s notes and get up to date with them. This is because a lot of background information in the new lecture material comes from last year’s notes, but at a much more advanced level. 

So far I don’t have any coursework to complete, but I have to continue writing my report (equivalent of a dissertation). At the moment I am carrying out background research and writing my ideas down. This does actually need to be written down in an orderly fashion as it is part of my logbook. The log books counts towards 20% of my Research Methods and Project module which is worth 30 credits of my final year. I am enjoying carrying out my research, as it helps to develop my observation and analytical skills. These are two skills which I believe to be crucial and vital, especially when studying for a degree in Mathematics.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Back to Uni!

It’s been a week and a half since I’ve been back at university. So far, I am enjoying university life and hanging around my friends again. This term is going to be really quite busy what with me studying three new modules compared to last term. This term I am studying; Numerical Methods and Software for Partial Differential Equations. Wow! That’s quite a mouthful to say, isn’t it? Basically this course involves solving partial differential equations as well as ordinary differential equations using different methods, both by hand calculations (crucial for the May exams) and also using different software: Excel and Matlab, just to name a few.  A partial differential equation (PDE) is an equation involving one or more partial derivatives of an unknown function of several variables. The highest order derivative in the PDE determines the order of the PDE.  PDEs are used extensively to represent real world phenomena and processes. For example: Heat transfer in nuclear reactors, Airflow around an aircraft, Structural dynamics of a bridge and Movement of money in financial markets. The modelling and simulation of such processes then requires solution of these PDEs.  Having only attended two lectures so far, I’m not sure about the exact content on the course, but I know that I will learn much more over the next few months.

The second option I am taking is called Financial Modelling and Analysis.  This course investigates modern financial modeling using stochastic processes, arbitrage theory and partial differential equations. I chose this course because I am really interested in finance and financial markets. My final year dissertation is based heavily on finance and therefore I thought that this would be a brilliant module for me to study. This course covers a wide variety of interesting and exciting aspects of finance, for example; The Black – Scholes PDE, Basket and Asian Options (I wonder what that’s about?) and something I’m very familiar with; the Monte Carlo Integration using Matlab. I am familiar with the Monte Carlo Method as it was covered last year in one of my modules called Numerical Methods with Computer Algorithms. Interestingly enough, the lecturer who taught the Numerical Methods course last year, is teaching the Financial Modeling course this year.

The final module which I am taking this year is called Actuarial Mathematics. This course investigates modern actuarial modeling and examines the basic techniques used in actuarial analysis. This module covers interesting topics such as: life insurance, premium calculations, Simple & Compound Interest, Present Value, Annuities, etc amongst many other topics. This module does require a lot of statistics and calculus, but I suppose that’s okay considering I did study Statistical Modelling last term. I also studied statistics last year and the year before that as well. I studied Calculus in my first year of uni. So I am quite looking forward to learning more regarding this module.

There are other modules which are offered and we are allowed two weeks to try and test as many of them as we wish, (this Friday is the last day for testing) and if we want to change modules then we need to email our personal tutor by Friday. From next Monday onwards we can only attend the courses which we are registered for. There are five courses running this term, one module every day. We can only be registered to three of them. In my opinion, the first two weeks are relatively easy compared to the weeks ahead as they just cover the basics of what you need to know in that module. I think they do it that way so that everyone should have roughly the same or similar knowledge in order to understand the lecture material. They can then decide if this course is right for them.