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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Big noise playing in the street

Gaah, I've spent the entire day on the same "mechanical" question. I should heed my own advice more often - labelling a problem "mechanical" is akin to calling it "easy", which I swore never to do again.

My first two attacks on this problem resulted in incorrect eigenvalues after I kept making silly errors while simplifying the characteristic polynomial. After I'd finally figured out that there was only one eigenvalue, I then tried to be clever in finding the invertible matrix Q with the property that A=QBQ-1. Cleverness got me nowhere fast, and after an hour of abortive attempts and checking, I finally had to slow down and come at the thing systematically. It was only then that I realised I had an insoluble system on my hands. After a bit more checking of every stage of my workings I arrived at the conclusion that something funny was going on. The only thing left to do was flick a despairing email to Chris, which I did as quickly as possible.

Chris, being a terrific lecturer and extremely available even on weekend afternoons, replied promptly with a small novel's worth of explanation and elaboration. I've worked over it a bit, but more work is in order. And those two proofs still need to be done. And I haven't written up yet. And the assignment is due in 17 hours. Suddenly I'm glad I already got so far ahead on the test...

2 comments:

lorne said...

Those accessible lecturers are wonderful things indeed.

We will rock you, apparently covered by Robbie Williams with the title "Buddy you're a boy make a big noise". Is this an example of lyrics sites ripping each other off and one mistake propagating, or does such a thing exist?

Gael said...

That sounds crazy, but Robbie Williams is a little crazy sometimes. His official site lists "We Will Rock You" as a track on the album Live at Knebworth. Who knows where the title confusion arose.

Have a star.

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