mst209 – ploughing on in

The website officially went live this morning and I’ve now grabbed all the PDF versions of the MST209 course materials and added all the assesment deadlines into my calendar. Just need them to announce the Tutorials now, hopefully I’ll be as lucky as I was on MST221 and M208, and they’ll be just along the road in Sherwood.

Once I’ve moved the PDFs over to the Nexus I’ll hopefully be able to make better use of lunch breaks at work. Though while I was waiting for them to be put up I spent the weekend working through units 1+2 in Book 1.

This seems to be a new format from the OU, not sure it’s just MST209 though, where all the units in a block are now put into 1 book rather than each being an individual book. From a environmental point of view it probably reduces paper usage and shipping overheard. But it’s a little bit of a pain as they don’t seem to have reformated the underlying material so you end up having the answers for the units interspersed, so it’s a little harder to just flick to the back of the book, but it’s nothing that a little judicious usage of postage notes won’t sort out.

Unfortunately the PDFs are identical to the books, so you end up with large files that are hard to flick back and forwards through unless you have PDF reader that allows you to create bookmarks, or having 2 readers open so you can switch between them. Maybe now that portable PDF reading is much more common the OU might consider adding a proper set of bookmarks into the PDF files?

Anyway, enough griping. Unit 1 was a revision unit which was handy as it’s been just under a year since I did anything harder than arithmetic. Took a while to drop back into things, and I really need to revise my basic integrals as I keep having to refer to the handbook or Wolfram for them.

Unit 2 was First order differential equations. Took me a while to get used to the style this was written in. It wasn’t as step by step as MS221 was, but wasn’t quite as rigorous as M208 was, so I’d often have to “doodle” the examples on a bit of paper to work out the missing steps. It also really pointed out that I’m still not paying enough attention and getting myself into trouble later on. For example:

    \begin{align*} x\dfrac{dy}{dx}-3y&=x\quad (x>0) \\ \dfrac{dy}{dx}-\dfrac{3y}{x}&=1 \end{align}

then g(x) is not \frac{3}{x}, which would lead to:

    \begin{align*} p(x)&=exp(\int(\dfrac{3}{x} dx))\\ &=exp(3\ln{x})\\ &=x^3 \end{align}

But instead it’s the whole of the function of x, g(x)=-\frac{3}{x} which gives:

    \begin{align*} p(x)&=exp(\int(-\dfrac{3}{x} dx))\\ &=exp(-3\ln{x})\\ &=x^{-3} \end{align}

Which makes quite a bit of difference in the final evaluation. This has always been a failing of mine, maybe this will be the course where I finally fix it.

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