I’ve never heard of you!


To the Editor:

The proposal to shorten college programs is really just a revenue-generating technique disguised as educational reform.

Institutions of higher education, especially private colleges and universities, have failed to address cost-containment problems for decades. What we need is not to produce college graduates more quickly, but less expensively, so that fewer people are saddled with the sort of debt that limits postgraduate options so severely.

Roger Blumberg
Providence, R.I., May 25, 2010

The writer is an adjunct lecturer in computer science at Brown University and director of evaluation for Mendele Education, a company that specializes in program evaluation.


1. hold the stick firmly.

2. be sufficiently fearless about applying pressure. (Personal opinion:  stickly characters look terrible. They pale of inexperience, uncertainty, and childishness.)

3. Breathe and be calm.

4. don’t rush.

5. have direction and deliberateness in every stroke. (Wishy-washy flailing-abouts will get you slapped.)

6. use enough ink.

palindrome even function

The blog title has changed.  Ian Pomerantz noted that in a narrow tab, the title reads simply “a palin.” That is not acceptable.

At least “Even Function” ends up as “even fun” when truncated.

Other motivations for changing it:

1. I had an exam question about even functions.

2. A palindrome is symmetric about its middle, just like an even function.

3. “God she’s so weird, how does she even function?”

Let’s see. What’s been happening?

Two weekends ago, I danced a lot and then got asked to go for a ride and ice cream by a middle-aged man. (I politely declined. I hope we can still dance together, since he’s very good and very patient.)

I finished CS32. A lot of the course was googling for code snippets, as documentation for OpenCV, C++, Qt, and Django are rather awful–though as horrible as they were, I know that most APIs have even shoddier documentation. Over the summer, I will aim to write a lot in C because I need the practice. C# would be too much of a cop-out.

I found a new favorite study position and continued another study tradition: the position is in JWW (mail/administrative building) lobby, late at night, the bar. I can stand at the end of it, sprawl out course notes, study notes, textbooks, etc., have limited internet access, and pace around all I want. Perfect for math.

The study tradition is going to ABP to look over calculus. Always calculus. I think I’ll keep it separate from whatever finite pursuits I might have.

I had a study plan for finals!

Background: I had two math finals, 9am, on consecutive days. The first one was Analysis of One Variable (MA101) and the second was Introduction to Applied Mathematics II (AM36), but really, intermediate ODE/beginner PDE. AM36 had a take-home final that was all PDE, to be handed in on the day of the in-hall final, during which we were mercifully allowed to compute rather serenely.

AM36: Each day, cover material covered by three or four homeworks. Shoot for four. Tryyyy to get the final done.

MA101: Monday, do Integration, the last series homework, and the cauchy sequence stuff. Congratulations, you’ve taken a first pass at the course. But be sure to review. Afterwards, do problems each night until every problem in the book makes sense.

I know there was at least one problem for which I had an incorrect final answer on the AM36 exam, and definitely parts of the Analysis exam that were ridiculous/wrong, but overall, completing these courses makes me feel pretty fearless.