The Midlife Geek

Ramblings of a middle aged engineer, runner and open source enthusiast

Tag: MS221 (page 1 of 2)


MS221 was a grade 4 pass. From the breakdown of the MS221 exam, it looks like most were in the same boat, with 79% scoring under 54%. I’m happy with the result (it’s free choice on my degree path) but it was a valuable examination experience.

I did several past papers (I downloaded eight) but did not concentrate on time management. Looking at the exam breakdown, it’s clear that I was strong on blocks one and two (mathematical exploration and iteration), less so on block three (continuous models) and weak on block four (structure in mathematics). The exam is in two sections – the first had three questions on each section and the second just one on each. The paper and most of the tutors advise doing as much of the first part as possible. A better strategy for me would have been to do the block one and two questions in both parts of the paper then doing the block three and four questions in part one and finally in part two.

Well you live and learn. I enjoyed MS221 and would recommend it. For now this is the end of my study of mathematics, unless I do a second degree in the future.

MT264 held no surprises and I’m happy with a grade 2 pass. My biggest issue was life getting in the way – I skipped the final TMA when I had to deploy overseas at short notice.

TT284 starts at the end of January and I’m on leave from the end of next week. I’m only registered on the one module just now because I’m doing French language training for work (they need French speakers, the course is free and learning a language is on my bucket list).

I hope the OU continues to use IP-City Centre as an examination venue. Until recently exams were in Colchester, where unless you want to be three hours early parking is ridiculously expensive. The new venue has better facilities and free parking plus its only a fifteen minute drive.

MS221 Exam

Exam starts in a few hours. Not very confident to be honest, I think my
algebraic manipulation will let me down.

MT264 Exam

I did the MT264 exam yesterday. I should have sat it two months ago but deferred the date as I was “unavoidably sent to another country at short notice”.

The exam was damn near identical to the past papers I’d done – even the order of the questions was the same. Part one (64%) covered everything taught and part two (36%) went into a little more depth – with questions on OOP, text handling and databases. I went straight through the from question one to eleven. As you only needed to do two of the last three I didn’t attempt question twelve.

As is often the case with exams, some of the questions were ambiguous. I didn’t care for the naming convention of the subclass properties in question eleven – that confused me.

Anyway, one down and one to go – MS221 tomorrow.

I don’t like exams

Two exams this week – MT264 and MS221. I don’t like exams, I’ve done the past papers and read over my notes but I’m still not looking forward to them.

Small steps

Back in October I started to develop some serious shin pain and began the Army’s rehabilitation process. A better process than people give credit for – put in effort, take it seriously and it has results. It just takes time. Today I got upgraded to a run/walk program – as long as I remain pain free I could be running in three weeks. I’ve missed doing a few miles after work.

Speaking of small steps, that’s how MS221 TMA 2 feels. I enjoyed Chapter B3 (eigenvalues) but there’s only one question on it. Iteration is half the paper! I’ve still to catch up with block C!

MT264 TMA 3 is due at the start of March – so I think I’ve another week where I’ve time only to train, study and sleep.

Thankfully I’m a couple of weeks ahead on TT284. I’ve kept off the PlayStation but MW3’s first map pack is out at the end of the month.

TMA results for Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, whatever your faith (you get the sentiment)!

MS221’s first TMA was returned yesterday. My tutor has a sense of humour – she gave me an extension, acknowledged receipt and within a day emailed me to tell me she’d given me a week’s extension on TMA 2 so I could “catch up more gradually”. I spent a few days thinking I’d totally screwed up the assessment but I actually got 93% – which I’m pretty damn pleased with (especially as I didn’t answer one part).

MS221 TMA01

I’ve had nothing but problems with this TMA, the latest being Word refusing to open my solution document. Last time I bother with that, its a lot easier just to write it all out by hand.

I hope I can remember the material for the exam. Being allowed the handbook and working through past papers will probably be enough but I’ve found MS221 a big jump from MST121, frankly it’s put me off level three but you never know.

My problem is that I just can’t spot patterns so have great difficulty making conjectures. There’s a conjecture question in the first TMA and although I’ve got the Mathcad sheet all set up, I can see an approximate connection but can’t think of a way to formalise it.

Certificate in Information Technology and Computing

I finally realised how you link qualifications together “on the way” to a degree with the Open University. So I’ve now achieved the Certificate in Information Technology and Computing. Which was nice (as they say on The Fast Show).

Apparently, that makes my name Dougie Richardson, Cert IT & Comp (Open). I think I’ll skip that.

Next stop is the Diploma of Higher Education in Computing and IT, which is 240 credits (currently I have 120 points completed and 60 in progress, with another 30 point module starting in February if I get a place). I can link MS221 to this qualification as my free choice at level 2.

Its encouraging but it still seems like a mountain to climb – I only hope that the government doesn’t do a Darth Vader and alter the bargain further.

Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000

Project Euler’s first problem:

If we list all the natural numbers below 10 that are multiples of 3 or 5, we get 3, 5, 6 and 9. The sum of these multiples is 23.

Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000.

By brute force I can write code that checks every number below 1000 to see if it’s divisible by 3 or 5, if it is then add it to a running total.

I’m using Visual Basic (VB.Net 2010 to be precise). This might seem a little odd for an Ubuntu member but I’m thinking of trying MT264 (Designing applications with Visual Basic). Open University students qualify for Microsoft’s Dreamspark promotion, so I got a copy of Visual Studio 2010 Express to try it out. Besides, I’m at work so haven’t much choice.

Starting off with a “Console Application” template:

Dim beganAt As Date = Now
Dim total As Long = 0
' Repeat a thousand times
For counter As Integer = 1 To 999 Step 1
     ' Check if the current integer is divisible by 3 or 5 and
     ' if it is then add it to our total
     If (counter Mod 3 = 0) Or (counter Mod 5 = 0) Then
          total = total + counter
     End If
Dim endAt As Global.System.TimeSpan = Now.Subtract(beganAt)
Dim took As Integer = endAt.Milliseconds
Console.WriteLine(total.ToString + " in " + took.ToString + "ms.")

Running this code and clicking the button we get the answer 233168, which Project Eular confirms. Code must run in less than a minute, the timer shows less than a millisecond.

I can see another way to do this, by using two for loops – one in steps of 3 and one in steps of 5, adding the counter to a total for each. I don’t know if this offers a significant time saving, so I re-ran the original code, making the loop repeat a million times and it completes in 375ms. I can’t see any value in going any further.

Finally succeeding?

I read an article by James Somers at The Atlantic called “How I Failed, Failed, and Finally Succeeded at Learning How to Code“. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in learning to code to read it – he discusses how computer programming is an excellent learning experience but that his own experiences have been tempered by poor instruction, particularly from books. He goes on to discuss how Project Euler became the titular success.

Euler provides a series of programming challenges of increasing difficulty, as the student solves each in turn they gain experience of what does and does not work as well as confidence in their abilities. Importantly, the student is also applying programming to practical problems (if you’re a mathematics student) from the outset.

I’ll post my solutions here as I go. I’m aiming to do one a day but I’ll see how I get on. Not sure what language is best to get on with, Python is popular in open source circles but most of my courses are based around Java.


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