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Archive for the ‘math’

May09

compsci conundrum

I am planning on attending UTSC (but I think this question should be
applicable to the other campuses) this September, and I am looking for
advice on whether I should aim for a major + 2 minor or (software
engineering) specialist program in Computer Science.

I am leaning towards the major + 2 minor option for the following reasons:

The specialist program requires some additional courses that I think would
make it more difficult than the major. For example, it requires both Linear
Algebra II and Intro to Probability, whereas the major program let’s you
choose one of them. Another math course that is required is Calculus of
Several Variables I, which just sounds terrifying. And I know that math is
important in CS, but, I am only okay in math (ended with 83 in functions
because trig killed me [I probably wouldn’t have done that well on it in
the first place, but I planned poorly for other subjects, and so did not
have time to study for the unit test]; calc seems much more interesting,
though), and so I would like to skip some of these math courses.
Additionally, I am not sure how useful or hard some of the additional CS
courses like Intro to Numerical Algorithms for Computational Mathematics or
Computability and Computational Complexity will be—they all seem very
abstract and not-practical.

Another reason I want the major + 2 minor is that I would get two minors. I
am taking Writer’s Craft this year and have realized that I quite enjoy
creative writing. It just so happens that UTSC offers a minor program under
English called Creative Writing. I think taking this minor alongside the CS
major would be a great way to lessen the workload and pursue something I
enjoy, while also pursing something else I enjoy that can actually earn me
money. Having only math and theory-based CS courses besides a small number
of electives is not too appealing to me. I realize that those courses are
better than practical programming courses in the long-run, but having them
make up the vast majority of my degree seems a bit painful. I don’t have a
solid pick for a second minor yet, but I don’t think it would be hard for
me to choose one (linguistics and food science are top contenders).

Here, then, are reasons I might want to go the specialist route:

I’m special.

I think some of the courses the specialist has you take would be pretty
beneficial. For example, since my goal is to get a job as a programmer, the
courses that seem to teach you how to do stuff in a real-world environment
like Intro to Software Engineering and Engineering Large Software Systems
could really be useful, and I might be missing out if I opt for the major.
There are also a few other courses like Programming on the Web and Intro to
Databases which could add to my skill set and make me more marketable for
co-op and post-post-secondary jobs. I am of course just predicting how
valuable these courses might be form their names and descriptions alone;
that’s why I’m asking you! The major program only allows you to take 1
credit of additional C/D-level (300/400-level) CS courses, which means
missing out on some potentially useful courses. I am guessing that it is
not possible to take more as electives, but is it?

My minors will probably also not help at all with my future career; I would
only be taking them to lessen the amount of math/CS courses and increase
the amount of enjoyable courses. Is that a bad thing to do?

So, to conclude, do you think the benefits for taking the specialist
program (additional useful courses) outweighs the cons (more un-fun
courses; less fun courses)? Both choices aid the mind, but in different
ways (i.e. one probably reduces chances of suicide).

Thank you and sorry for the long message; I wanted to make my points clear
🙂

———————————————

buddy.

i began penning a response to this question that went a little something like: “just go with your gut! it seems like you’re leaning towards the major and two minors option! why not pursue that?”, but upon further reflection, i’ve decided that we need to rewind a little, if that’s okay with you.

(just so you know, i’m not a computer science student, nor have i taken any computer science classes and i’m just as confused as you are about these programs. i’m speaking only as a seasoned upper year student)

before i start ripping into you, (it’s going to happen, i’m sorry) kudos to you for thinking this hard about what program you want to get into. it’s clear you’ve put a lot of thought into this, which is great. this response isn’t supposed to make you feel bad- i just want to bring you back to earth a little.

so, first- you’ve made some serious assumptions on what these courses are going to be like. i can tell you from experience that i’ve made assumptions based on course names and have been incredibly wrong. classes also vary pretty dramatically depending on the instructor.

*askastorytime* i took a class called urban geography, planning, and political processes. i thought was going to be super difficult and intense, but it ended up being super chill. for our final project, we created a zine and performed a rap for the class. for our group presentation, i contributed a sick drum beat and didn’t even utter a single word. moral of the story: do not judge courses by their names. linear algebra is probs super easy. (i’m kidding. math is never easy. math is very hard. we mustn’t joke about math.)

your assumptions that some classes are “abstract”, “non-practical” or “terrifying” are all based on the course name. the truth is, every program at u of t will require a great deal of hard work. sure, easy courses exist, but transitioning from high school to first year is a huge challenge and you need to take that into account. picking the major and two minors option over a specialist program doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be choosing the ‘easier route’. like i’ve said in previous posts, it really depends on how deep you want to get into a subject. a major and two minors allows you to explore a larger variety of subjects whereas a specialist will let you dig deep into one subject. which option are you more interested in?

while the university does have a breadth requirement which encourages us to take courses outside of our faculty, personally, if i were to choose two minors that were completely unrelated to my major, i feel like i would have lots of difficulty focusing on each one and feel like a scatterbrain. for others who are better at multitasking and switching between subjects easily, a major and two minors is perfect! it really depends on what kind of person you are. can you turn your computer science mind off and jump right into phonetics and phonology if you need to? you’ll have to test that out in your first year! p.s. don’t forget to take a moment to check out the requirements for your potential minors and their different application requirements.

that being said, from what i’ve heard, computer science is extremely math heavy. there is no easy way out. you have been warned.

for now, i think you should try picking courses that are prerequisites for the general computer science programs (if you are sure about pursuing computer science), and see how you feel about them. fear not, the utsc calendar literally says that it’s not meant to be difficult to switch between different streams within computer science.

you have plenty of time to discuss your options with an academic advisor as well! you can also talk to the program supervisor for computer science if you have more specific questions about the available compsci programs.

i’d also encourage you to reach out to current or past computer science alumni to get some different perspectives on how they chose their programs. hearing other people’s thought processes might help you figure out what you’re looking for!

hey, if doing programming for your whole undergrad sounds terrible for you, maybe computer science isn’t the right program for you. your first year is meant for you to explore and discover what courses you like. you don’t even necessarily need to get into your program by second year if you still don’t know what to do after your first year.

so in conclusion, specialist courses won’t necessarily be more useful in the long run, and if the idea of specializing in software engineering doesn’t sound colourful enough for you, maybe the major and two minor option will be better for you! again, you really need to take some university level classes to see what it’s really like here. don’t judge a book by its cover, yo.

good luck with your decision, i hope you choose a program you like!

peace and love,

aska

Jan24

much mystery, such confusion

I’ve applied to life science and have a 70 in advanced functions. I see the the prerequisites are only English and calculus. How much would you look at that mark if my overall average is around a 86

———————————————

hey,

*as a student blogger, i won’t be the one looking at your mark at all, so don’t hold me to this answer*

they will definitely consider your overall average, but they “reserve the right” to look at specific courses depending on what you’re applying for.

since you’re applying to lifesci, your science grades should be on the higher side. i wouldn’t be toooo concerned about your advanced functions grade if your science grades and overall average are high. keep in mind though, admissions will consider tons of things when they look at your application, not just your grades, so you’ll never really know why you got in or why you didn’t get in. so mysterious.

hope this was somewhat helpful,

aska

Dec09

transferring + that calculus requirement

Hey Aska, I had a question regarding the calculus requirement for Life
Science programs. I haven’t took high school calculus, and am moving soon
and want to transfer to U of T. I am currently taking a first year math
course here at York.  The U of T website says “A suitable community college
or university course in calculus” counts,  but I’m not sure if the course
I’m taking, “Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences” will count since
it’s not strictly calculus  (though it covers Biocalculus for at least 85%
of the course.) please let me know if I can fulfill the requirement with
the course I’m taking (and if so, what mark is satisfactory, since I don’t
think I can pull off an A atm). If I can’t fulfill the requirement I’ll
just take PUMP or night school.

Thank you Aska, I appreciate your help!!

———————————————

hello,

so U of T has a great resource called ‘transfer explorer’ where you can plunk in a course taken at another institution (in your case, york) to see what its U of T equivalent would be. when you put in  ‘MATH1505: mathematics for the life and social sciences’ in transfer explorer, it states that the equivalent (last assessed in 2014) is U of T’s JMB170.

the course description of JMB170, doesn’t give me the impression that it is a calculus course. i’m not sure what life science program you’re trying to get into, but from my point of view, MATH1505 doesn’t seem like it would carry over and be considered as a valid calculus course.

just out of curiosity, i took a quick look at the department of psychology’s calc requirement and couldn’t find anything that would include JMB170. if i’m not mistaken, calculus courses at U of T generally have MAT course codes. my recommendation for you would be to contact your chosen life science program directly.

contacting the faculty of arts and science may also be able to help you with this issue, since they are the ones who decide ultimately which courses transfer over.

if worse comes to worse, PUMP is definitely a good option. you’ve done your research!

good luck with everything and i hope you have a smooth transfer process!

peace and love,

aska

Aug16

again and again…and again

Hi, since I need MAT135 up to a 60% for cs major but i only got a 50% during the school year, but i am not doing too well this summer, now i wonder what will happen if i fail this course during the summer, will it still count in my gpa or no

———————————————

hey there,

those differential equations giving you grief, eh? i feel you on that one.

according to the Rules & Regulations in the course calendar, it looks like you can only repeat a passed course one time. i’m specifically looking at the line that says: “Students may not use this one-time-only allowance to subsequently repeat a passed course again after having repeated the same course for reasons noted in i) above, i.e., they may repeat a specific passed course only once.”

that seems pretty clear cut to me, however, since these repeated courses must be added by your registrar’s office, it’s possible that your college registrar could make an exception in certain circumstances. or maybe not. i dunno. best thing to do? talk to them about it.

cheers,

aska

Aug04

lost in a STEM course maze

Hi,

I am a first year student from the States and I recently signed up for my courses on timetable. I’ve taken 2 years of AP Physics (algebra-based) and one year of AP Calculus AB. I registered for PHY151 and MAT135/136 and failed to see that PHY151 has a co-requisite of either MAT137 or MAT157. I am worried that my calculus knowledge is not quite strong enough for MAT137. I did pretty well in high school calc but not well enough that I feel super confident. After looking at the course description for MAT137 I can’t tell if it is a good idea to take it in first year. I plan to enter some type of mathematical or physical sciences program which is why I chose PHY151 (plus two years of physics).

Is taking MAT 137 a bad idea? Should I switch to PHY131 and keep MAT135/136? If anyone knows of any major differences between the two math classes that would be greatly appreciated. I am taking CHM151 in addition to physics and math. I thought about dropping physics for first year and taking BIO120 instead (and keeping MAT135/136) because I have no clue what sciences I like best and I couldn’t bear taking all three plus math. I’m in need of advice about the two math courses and about which two of three (physics, chemistry, biology) is most important to take in first year.

Thanks so much

———————————————

hey there,

if you’re thinking of entering a math/physical sciences program, then yes, it does make sense to take PHY151 and MAT137 or -57. it’s great that you’re being realistic about your abilities and trying to find the calc class that works for you, but you will need to take 137/157 if you’re planning on doing PHY151.

here’s what i would do: enrol in the PHY151 and MAT137. see how the math goes. if you took AP Calculus, you’re probably better prepared than you think. HOWEVER – and this is the important point – if you do find that it is too much for you, you can DROP DOWN to MAT135/136 by early October.

unfortunately, it’s not possible to start in MAT135/136 and upgrade, but at least you can downgrade if you find the 137 to be completely overwhelming.

if you do drop down, however, you will be in a sticky situation with respect to the physics class. since you have to be taking MAT137 or 157 to stay in PHY151, you will likely be removed from PHY151 unless you stay in MAT137. it’s possible to ask for an exception from the physics department, but it would certainly be an exception. it’s not something you can count on. what’s more likely is that you’ll have to make the hard decision of either abandoning physics or sticking it out in MAT137.

that’s all pretty far down the road at this point, though. it’s pointless to stress about it now. i’ve laid out one possible strategy, but you have to do what feels right to you. down the road, if it turns out that the decision you made isn’t working for you anymore, then just change it.

there is this rhetoric about university that makes it out to be this inflexible decision, a once-in-a-lifetime chance. it’s like the decisions you make on course enrolment day in first year will dictate the rest of your life. not so. in my first year, i knew by December of my first ever semester at university that i was in the wrong program. so i changed it. big whoop. four years later, i graduated from the right program and the right school. i’m glad i started out on the wrong path, because it helped illuminate the right one.

as for which sciences you should take: it really depends on what program you’re interested in. if you’re thinking about a more physics-based program, you probably won’t need to take any biology, and perhaps not even any chemistry, either. the astronomy & physics specialist, for example, only requires that you take physics and math in your first year. biological physics, understandably, requires phyiscs, bio, chemistry and math (though they don’t all have to be taken in your first year).

obviously, your ideas about which program(s) you’d like to enrol in may change after first year, but if you can decide which programs you think you might be interested in, then you can get an idea of the first year courses you might want to take.

good luck!

aska

Jun15

don’t math if you can help it

Hi! So, I’m finishing up grade 11 and ending the year with a precalculus class at the grade 12 level because I fast tracked. Since that means I finished up my math requirements for high school, I wasn’t planning on taking any math next year. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal, since I want to apply for Ethics, Society, and Law and PoliSci, and it won’t be on my Top 6.
But now I’m concerned because I know that the universities at my province typically make you take at least one university level course in subjects like math, and I’m not sure if that also applies for UofT. If it does, I might retake the course again in grade 12. Will that be held against me because UofT “…reserves the right to give preference to students whose marks are a result of a single attempt at each course”?
Ohhh one last thing! When it comes to scholarships offered by UofT, like the entrance scholarship you get if you have a 92%, do they determine that percentage using all your marks in grade 12 or just your Top 6?

———————————————

hey there,

if you don’t want to take math, if you think not taking math will improve your average, if math isn’t good for your soul – don’t take math. trust aska. university is hard enough without taking courses you hate (and especially math. like, full offence – why do that to yourself?).

uoft will never force you to take math if it’s not a program requirement for you, and, as you rightly pointed out, neither ethics, society & law nor poli. sci. require any math courses.

the only thing we have that is similar to what you’re suggesting are ‘breadth requirements.’ basically, the university requires you to take one or two courses in five major areas of study which are supposed to encompass all areas of study. almost every single course in the faculty of arts & science fits into one (or sometimes two) of these categories. and yes, one of the categories is ‘The Physical and Mathematical Universes.’

however, there are lots of ways to fill this pesky requirement that don’t involve taking math. some courses are designed to be lowballs for people who…let’s say aren’t the most number-oriented of folks. one of them is AST201, and you can find plenty more of these ‘lowballs’ on the course calendar.

a caveat: by the time you get to subject POSt-application time, the summer after your first year, you may have changed your mind about what you want to study. that’s two years from now, after all. let’s say you change your mind, and decide to do an international relations major, for example. in that case, not having done calculus would prevent you from taking ECO100, one of the prerequisites for that program.

my point is that not taking calculus does close some doors on you. however, you seem not to be too interested in those doors, so if it’s a choice between keeping some hypothetical future options open that you may not care about, and preserving your grades and sanity, go for the latter.

finally: everything is determined based on your top six. that includes scholarships.

cheers,

aska

Jan13

math again, wrath again

Hey,Without an announcement on blackboard for MATA30, I checked Rosi to see a failing mark of 45%, which is down 15% from what I had going into the exam. I am in Physical and Environmental Sciences program which also requires MATA36 semester two. I immediately re-enrolled in MATA30 and kept MATA36 for my second semester at UTSC without knowing if it will actually allow me to do this. I am wondering if that is the easiest way for me to make up the shockingly failed course. Or what other possible suggestions allow for me to continue without tuition change/summer classes.
(I know exams and holidays means business but id appreciate the closest available help since I don’t know of any possible deadlines)Thank you

———————————————

hey there,

first thing’s first: i’m glad you signed up for MATA30 again and secured a spot in that class. THAT WAS SMART; DON’T DROP IT. however, since MATA30 is a requirement for MATA36, they’re probably not going to let you take MATA36 until you’ve finished the former course. you can always ask the department (nothing’s stopping you), but i doubt they’ll make an exception.

so: what you have to do now is drop MATA36. you can consider taking it next year, if you don’t want to take anything in the summer. you still have a while until the drop deadline, but the math department has the authority to pull you from the course at any point, so it’s best for you to do it before they do.

i know it’s frustrating to have to contemplate altering your plans, and i’m sure you just want to get first-year math out of the way. but taking MATA36 in fall 2016 instead of winter 2016 (or even in the summertime) doesn’t have to completely disrupt your schedule. feel free to talk to the registrar’s office if you need further help with planning.

cheers,

aska

Sep22

shout out to this person for not asking *me* their math question

Hey! I looked at the math aid centre schedule, and I don’t see my course. Is it still cool for me to walk in and ask a TA if they are available to help me out even though my course isn’t listed? Thanks, Aska!

———————————————

hey there,

well, the location in sidney smith (assuming you’re on the downtown campus; i really really hope you’re at the downtown campus) says that it is intended for students in “MAT133Y, MAT135H, MAT136H, and possibly other courses.

i’d say the “possibly other courses” part is an open invitation to go in and see whether you can sniff out a TA who at least recognizes what you’re trying to learn. i’m not sure how strictly they follow the schedule, but i think it’s worth it to try.

even if your question is not necessarily something they specialize in or are there for, they might be able to help you.

and if they can’t help, you can at least count on finding a sympathetic ear from a graduate student in mathematics who probably knows all too well what it’s like to study some obscure branch of math that no one has every heard of. otherwise, you may have to go searching at one of the other math aid centres, or find a private tutor.

i hope you find someone who can help you!

aska

Sep15

high school calculus…it’s all a blur…

Hi,
Im in the process of transferring from mata30f to mata30y. However i would like to get an opinion of the depth of mata30f. Can someone please advise
me whether 30f is similar to highschool calculus and vectors or if it goes in more depth than that (highschool).

Also is there a way that i could obtain past papers from previous 30f exams to get a knowledge of the difficulty.

Appreciate your advise on this at your earliest please

———————————————

Hey there,

Well, I think you can get a pretty good sense of how similar it is just from the course description. For example, take a look at this hunk of text: Elementary functions: rational, trigonometric, root, exponential and logarithmic functions and their graphs. Basic calculus: limits, continuity, derivatives, derivatives of higher order, analysis of graphs, use of derivatives; integrals and their applications.

Does any of that ring a bell somewhere in the dusty corners of your brain? Do you remember doing trig? Exponential functions? Derivatives? (Hopefully you remember derivatives from Grade 12 calculus).

In fact, all of that stuff is on the MCV4U1 curriculum, except integrals. I can’t speak for high schools in other provinces or countries, but if you did high school in Ontario, you should expect a pretty significant portion of the course to be review from high school.

That said, it won’t be the exact same as high school calculus. The material will definitely go into more depth, and concepts will be introduced here and there which you’re not familiar with. Integrals, which likely come at the end of the course, you probably haven’t encountered at all.

But the aim of the course is definitely not to fling you into the deep end.

As for past papers, the prof will usually let you know if they’ll be providing past papers as practice. You can also ask if he/she has them. Since most people don’t get to keep their exam papers, getting them directly from the prof is pretty much the only way to get your mits on them, so I wouldn’t go around any shadowy corners of the internet begging for them off strangers.

If the prof decides not to provide past papers, though, I wouldn’t worry. Study questions, assigned textbook work, and weekly problem sets are all regularly employed (and SUPER FUN!!) ways of providing students with plenty of practise for the exam.

Cheers,

Aska

Sep04

course space, course time (continuum)

Hi Im thinking of shifting to mata30y from mata30f and I was wondering what times are available to switch into mata30y.

———————————————

hey there,

you can find all the available times for MATA30H3 F, S and Y here. MATA30H3 Y has only one lecture section, which is full, but the waitlist is only one person long at the moment. if you get on it now, you’ve got a good chance of getting in.

this, by the way, is info i’m reading directly from ROSI. if you want to see that info for yourself, it’s real easy.

all you have to do is type the course code into the search bar under ‘course enrolment,’ and it’ll tell you everything you need to know. so try that next time, k? i’m sure you can do it. i believe in you.

best,

aska

May01

your status on summer stats

Hey, so I most likely failed my MAT137 course. I was only required to take the 135/136 combo but for some reason I opted for the full year harder 137 option. Anyways, too late now. My question is, if I retake the course in summer school, what does my transcript look like? And also I was planning on doing STA247 over the summer which has MAT135Y1/MAT137Y1/MAT157Y1 listed as prereqs. (Though there must be some error as MAT135 is an H course). Can I still take STA247?? I was really hoping on taking it so I can lessen my course load for next year. STA247 is “Probability with Computer Applications” so maybe because I got a good mark in my CSC165 Mathematical Expression and Reasoning for Computer Science course that may somewhat void my MAT137 fail?? Thanks.

———————————————

hey there,

if you’ve taken a course and you fail it, then you take the same course again, both marks will appear on your transcript and be weighted equally. the passed course wouldn’t cancel out the mark of the previous, failed course.

as for STA247, if you were to take and pass MAT137 in the ‘F’ term of the summer, and STA247 was offered in the ‘S’ term of the summer, then you would theoretically be able to take it. however, i’m taking a look at the timetable for stats and it looks like STA247 is offered in the ‘F’ term of the summer. so no luck on that one.

CSC165 isn’t listed as a prereq for STA247, so i don’t think that’ll affect your ability to enrol in STA247 in the summer. i mean, good for you for doing well, and all. that’s groovin‘. it just won’t affect your ability to get into stats for the summer, unfortunately. maybe you can consider taking another one of your 2014-2015 courses in the summer if you’re really set on lessening your course load for next year?

best of luck, friendo, and try to remember not to stress too much about this, and to go outside this summer.

cheers,

aska

Feb10

quaking in my boots for summer school

How difficult are chem110/120 & mat134 during summer school at utm?!? I really need some advice :(

———————————————

hey there,

well, if you’ll allow me to get a little PHILOSOPHICAL here, difficulty is kind of a relative thing. i don’t know what you specifically find hard. BUTTT if you’d like to know generally how difficult the classes will be, i suggest you take a look at the course descriptions (chem 110, chem 120 and mat134; these aren’t for summer 2014, but they should give you a general idea of the course content).

just read the course descriptions and consider your own abilities. did you struggle with stoichiometry in high school? what about titrations? if you struggled with anything in the course descriptions, maybe brush up on some grade 12 problems to review. same goes for math.

HOWEVER keep in mind that the classes will most likely have a little bit of review incorporated into them already, and you can get that just from the course description. for example, any ontario calculus class should have taught the fundamental theory of calculus, and that’s in the course description for mat134. so they definitely won’t just be throwing you into the deep end.

the second thing to consider is the speed – most summer classes proceed at roughly twice the pace of a fall/winter class. do you think you can keep up with that speed? i mean you’ll also be going to class more often, so there won’t be LESS CLASS TIME, but it will be a bit CONDENSED.

these are all things to consider, but at the end of the day, there’s shouldn’t be a huge difference between the summer classes and fall/winter classes. if you think you need to review, go for it, but i wouldn’t worry too much. if you work reasonably hard and make sure to keep up with the pace of the class, you’ll be alright. have a little faith in yourself.

cheers,

aska

Nov01

math minor or non-degree???

Hey guys, troubled mind here.
So I graduated in 2012 with BBA Management specializing in Finance, and after working for about a year I am interested in taking a Masters program in Mathematical Finance. As my BBA left me pretty much uneducated in math, I need to take about 2 semesters worth of math courses to be deemed competitive. I also realized that the sum of these courses qualify for the completion of a Minor in Math. So my question is this: Is it possible to take these courses and qualify for a Minor in Math? or do I have to take them as Non Degree.
Thank you for your time

———————————————

hey there,

it’s actually not possible to do just a minor at uoft – you have to do one specialist, two majors, or a major and two minors in order to get a degree. Meaning you’d have to do your courses as a non-degree student.

But DON’T PANIC. the good thing is non-degree status doesn’t really change anything for you (except that you get last pick for courses on rosi) (but it’s not like math courses fill up incredibly fast anyways amirite?). You’ll get your courses just fine, and you won’t be at a disadvantage when applying to grad school compared to someone who has a minor in math. All the grad schools care about is the marks you got in the courses they specify.

For once, the answer is easy-peasy! Good luck and I keep smilin’,

aska

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