Posted by: atri | February 28, 2009

Comments on Feb 27 feedback

Thanks again to everyone who gave their feedback. Things seem somewhat on track though things can definitely be improved. Below are some of my comments on the “results” as well as your specific comments:

  1.  Most of you (3/4) seemed to think the pace of the lecture is a bit fast to too fast. I’m somewhat OK with the first (if you do not get it all I encourage you to go back and review the material: e.g. look at the notes from fall 07). However, going too fast is not good. If you think you do not get something I have presented please let me know  right then and there. In the worst-case, we can take the matter offline to discuss it. I hope I do not shoot down questions: please feel free to say “You did not answer any question” and/or “How dare you dismiss my question” etc. 🙂
  2. One of you said having real life examples would be good to keep the big motivation questions in mind. I agree this is a good idea: unfortunately, I do not have anything specific to add on this other than what I said about the usefulness of codes in the first lecture. If you have any ideas about how I can go about doing this. However, please note that this is a theory course and most of the time our motivation would be pretty abstract.
  3. I’m glad that most of you seem to think the blog is good and e.g. is a nice review. The blog is primarily meant as a substitute for an email list and as a review material. I try to add new material to make your visits more useful– I could artificially add new material by skipping stuff in the lectures but I prefer not to do that unless I absolutely need to 🙂
  4. Regarding scribing: yes, you do need to fill in the details that I leave out in the lectures: e.g., if I do not flesh out an argument or I use short-cuts in the lecture to save time. E.g., I use \exists E on the board but you should write it as “there exists an E“– in general use as little of math connectives in your sentences (unless of course you’re writing an equation).  In short, think of your scribed notes  as being a few pages in a (good) textbook: your notes are going to be read by folks later on who will not have attended the lectures. You should attempt to make your notes accessible to them (and not me!). If you want more tips on general mathematical writing, please let me know.
  5. I am going to post an entry on what my expectations are from the paper presentation: in particular, I’ll point tout things on which I’ll grade your talk. The guidelines should be useful to you for any (somewhat technical) future talk. (Almost everything that I’m going to say will be something pretty “obvious” but we tend to lose sight of such things when we prepare our talk.)
  6. One of you mentioned that you are not sure how to pick your topic for “Wikipediaing.” Here is one suggestion: pick your paper presentation topic and write an entry on it. Almost all of the topics do not have Wikipedia topics or have stubs: even if there is a somewhat detailed entry on Wikipedia, you’ll definitely find something substantial to add to it. Another advantage of this is that you would also have done some of the preparation for your talk already (which means you’ll not leave the task of reading the paper till before the day of your presentation, which in almost all cases will be a bad idea for you esp. if you do not have the necessary background for your paper).
  7. Regarding what is expected in your Wikipedia entry: think of you entry as being lecture notes on the topic you presented. Of course notes cannot be too detailed but having a proof or two is required. (Also see bullet 4 on what should be the “level” of presentation.)
  8. Some of you mentioned you’re having some problems with the pre-reqs. E.g., in class when I present the proofs I assume you guys know certain things. As I said in the first bullet: please stop me if you do not follow anything. In the worst-case we can discuss it outside of class. If you come to my office, I can help you understand the background material (make an appointment beforehand though!). If I feel you need to do some slogging on your own, I’ll point you to the right material.

If I missed something or if you have any question/concerns/issues with the above, please do use the comments section. (Remember: you can comment anonymously!)

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