Thursday, July 20, 2006

The more things change...

...well, the more things change.

I'm spending a good deal of time today scouring the literature for in-class examples and research project ideas for MATH 365. Just a few minutes ago I opened the text I'd used to teach the "Introductory Matrix Theory" course at the University of Illinois a few years back, and out fell a copy of the department's standardized syllabus for the course.

Perhaps the only things sadder on it than the remarks from on-high, "each section will be covered in about one class hour" and "an hour exam should be given at the conclusion of Chapters 2, 4, and 6" are the scrawled notes I'd left myself which indicate tentative dates for quizzes and exams. Nothing wrong with those notes per se, it's only that this is the kind of behavior that I used to associate with solid "course preparation": if I spent a day at the beginning of the semester matching boxes on the calendar with lines on the syllabus, I was ahead of the game!

I'm also a bit amused about how the textbook is called "Linear Algebra and its Applications." To its credit, it includes far more robust coverage of realistic and real-world applications than many math texts...but it's a bit disingenuous in that of the hundreds of applications cross-referenced on the inside cover, most of them get one-line treatment at the point in the text to which the reader is directed.

In search of linear models...

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