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Principles of Applied Mathematics 
Quiang Du

The Core is great because it makes you experience subjects that you may not be exposed to if you jumped right into your major. Without the Core I would have no idea that frogs make loud noises during intercourse (shout out to Darcy Kelly) or that Nietzsche is (unsurprisingly) over-appreciated.

Despite the benefits of our beloved Core, there are still classes that I have done my best to avoid. I prefer readings over problem sets and didn't even bring a calculator to college. To mix up my liberal arts education, I decided to experience some courses that I, someone who dropped out of AP Calc in my senior year of high school, would probably otherwise never experience.

For the next few weeks I'll try my luck as a SEAS-loving, calculator using, formula understanding student. Today I'm starting with Principles of Applied Mathematics with Quiang Du. Will I finally learn how to make math relevant to my everyday life beyond solving how much to tip someone?!??

We'll see.

3:55- I'm actually freaking out walking into this class. I'm not even here for a grade and all of my high school math fears are rushing back to me.

4:00- Now I'm starting to panic because there aren't that many people here and I have to leave early to make it to my French class. What if the professor makes me answer a math question to leave?

4:06- Someone is controlling the computer and is scrolling through the engineering homepage but no one is at the computer. Is this the SEAS magic that I've heard of?

4:09- A lot more students showed up. Some girl sat right in front of me. Will she make me answer a math question to leave?

4:12- The professor is here and handing out homework. Why am I nervous? I didn't even do the homework. I didn't have to do the homework. I'm not in this class.

4:15- They are having their second midterm exam next Wednesday. Lol if it was today and I was sitting here just like...

4:21- The professor has been talking about the upcoming exam and the chapters that it will cover. I'm just trying to avoid eye-contact.

4:23- The review is starting! Not so much a review for me as just a reminder that I don't and will never know any of this material.

4:24- The first topic is "stability." Stability like getting my life together or like a bridge? I'm going to need more info here Professor Du.

4:25- It's stability of linear systems. Gotcha. Kinda. Not really.

4:28- Whoa he just said a bunch of things I don't understand. Like power vectors or something? Power rangers?  I thought this was just math.

4:30- If all modes are stable, then the system is stable. Tbh, words to live by.

4:32- Okay now a bunch of people are talking about different types of stability. We're all just trying to create a stable system here.

4:34- To straighten things out he drew some matrix like, bracket things. People seem to understand now.

4:35- The computer background is a bunch of storm clouds and honestly that's where my brain is @ right now.

4:41- So that was the entire review of chapter 5. Take away: stay stable and stay linear. It's better for you emotionally and doesn't involve derivatives.

4:45- He's talking about norms and I think the one thing I've learned in college is that there's no one norm. Stop trying to trap people.

4:47- O.N.B. includes something about BJ. ;) ;) ;) yeah it's not what you think. I also don't know what O.N.B. is. Orange is the New Black? Perhaps. Maybe he's trying to start a conversation about the new season this summer.

4:48- Whoa and now there's P of BJ. It's getting LIVE.  I hope no one is allergic to nuts.

4:49- PEANUTS. Because PB&J…

4:50- So much has happened in the last 2 minutes while I was thinking about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Why are there so many letters on the board. Wait. 1 and 0 are the only numbers he's written all class. What is this?

4:52- Haha he just said sum of all of your PBJ. Like some of all of your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Ha.

4:54- "Two parts add up to be one and that is the story of orthogonal projections." That was beautiful Du. Really.

4:55- Why is he writing so many variables? Why did he just say "a cake is a piece of cake??"

4:59- Apparently U x U (star) = I. I don't know what any of the variables mean but it's kind of cute. Cannons pick up line: "you're a star and you equal me." Idk, someone who took Principles of Applied Mathematics might be down.

5:01- This girl by me looks S T R E S S E D. Girl, me too. But you have to take the midterm. Bless your heart.

5:02- Some student let out an audible groan. Tensions run high.

5:04- Almost an hour in and there are still no numbers on the board. I feel like people are getting lenient of what they call math. I wouldn't call something a quesadilla if it didn't have cheese. That's just wrong.

5:05- Fun fact: diagonalizable is a word.

5:07- Alright, I think it's time for me to go to French and maybe get a pb&j.

5:08- He's going to talk about applications! I can stay for this. This is what I've been waiting for.

5:08- The Least Square problem, I'm intrigued. Basically trying to minimize some distance between some variables. Honestly, I was expecting something more snazzy. Measuring things is important though.

5:11- Yeah I'm going to go. I'll probably regret it when I have to find the measurements of a common space.

All in all Principles of Applied Mathematics would probably be entertaining to someone who understands it. Who wouldn't want a class about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and inspirational sayings? It's the dream. Check back next week for another article about me in a space I don't belong and watch out for me lurking in the back of your class if you learn about complicated things.

Here are my notes just in case you missed class last week:

All gifs via giphy 

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