Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Stress sets in

Yeah, we're almost done.

Mercifully, the semester will soon come to its end.

Signs of stress are setting in: even the best students in my 280 class are having a hard time picking apart the problems on the latest (and last) homework set, due on Friday, the last day of class.

Granted, the problems are difficult ones, built upon a vertiginous pile of definitions we've been amassing for the past several weeks: the set of functions from one set, S, to another, T, rests upon the definition of functions in general, which rests on the definition of relations more generally still, which rests on the definition of the Cartesian product. The notation for the formermost set is puzzling, too: since when does it make sense to talk about a set raised to the power of another set? And then you claim that the cardinality of this set is given by some exponential formula involving the cardinalities of the constituent sets?! Interrobang city.

It's late. These kids have given it their all, all semester long, and they're finally getting tired. It's taken them a long time to reach this point, but they're tired. I figure I'll give them a break: we'll spend a little while in class tomorrow planing down some of the rough spots in the hardest of this homework set's problems. They've earned it.

And on Friday, and during the final exam time slot next week, it's back to the book: we've got two more chapters to write and edit, and then the blasted thing is done. A first complete draft, anyway; two of the class's students have already expressed interest in putting some more time into the project over the break, polishing up the pagination, making consistent all of the notation and terminology, and putting together nice pretty pictures illustrating the concepts more amenable to visual expression.

Are these folks awesome, or what? I'm going to try to recruit as many of them as I can to attend the MAA Southeast Sectional meeting at Elon in March...and to try to get at least one of them to speak on the project there, with the others singing the harmonies.

We'll see how that recruiting goes.

For now, it's off to bed. Another long day comes tomorrow, but Calc I should be fun: Riemann sums await!

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