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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...


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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