Relativity

17Oct06

About two months in, and graduate school has changed my life.

Right now the most salient example is what I consider “easy.” When I took real analysis a couple of years ago, I thought that my book was poorly written. It contained too few examples, I thought, and the explanations were inadequate.

Last night I flipped through it, after approaching the subject from various lecture notes and graduate texts, and thought “Wow, I should really read this again. It’s so easy to follow.”

Today we received a take-home final exam. I scanned it and thought “no problem.” Of course, what that means is “no problem, I just have to go home and teach myself one completely foreign concept, in the matter of a few hours, and I’ll be set.” Especially with respect to mathematics, I never used to think like that.

I’m sure this process builds character. In fact, I have corroborating evidence. Consider this excerpt from “Mathematical Methods and Models for Economists”:

This book is an attempt to make the transition into graduate economics somewhat less painful. Although some of my readers may never believe me, I have tried to do a number of things that should make their lives a bit easier. … Although a lot of effort has gone into making the text as clear as possible, the result is still far from entertaining. Most students without a good undergraduate background in mathematics are likely to find the going a bit rough at times. They have all my sympathy and the assurance that it does build character.

Actually, the preface of that book starts of with the author relaying his frustration “of not understanding a single one of the papers in my second mathematics course.” So that’s heartening. Perhaps someday I’ll write a book about math for economists…

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