Saturday, March 14, 2009

Life is Good

Now that my first semester and my language courses have come to an end, I'll try to write posts a bit more often. To begin with, I present you with the following overview of my university courses:

I signed up for four "modules" in my first semester: Algorithmen und Programmieren I (Funktionale Programmierung), Technische Informatik I (Grundlagen), Mathematik für Informatiker I (Logik und Diskrete Mathematik), and Lineare Algebra I.

Funktionale Programmierung (8 LP): In this course, we worked mainly with Haskell, a functional programming language. Along the way, we covered topics such as recursion, λ-calculus, Turing machines, and coding theory. I enjoyed the course on the whole, but I didn't get the feeling that it particularly suited me. I think that a good number of my fellow students have a knack for, and a real interest in, programming (whether functional or otherwise). The same doesn't apply to me (at least not to the same extent). Although I did find the lectures interesting, I was hardly inspired, and I didn't take the assignments as seriously as I should have (then again, the only assignments that I really took seriously were the Lineare Algebra assignments).
Anyway, the main difficulty in this course was the final exam. Even after the threshold for passing the exam was moved down significantly (from 19/38 to 11/38), 55% of the class failed. If the threshold hadn't been changed, less than 10% would have passed.
Final Mark: 2,3 (which is significantly better than my expected mark of 5,0 and my hoped-for mark of 4,0)

Technische Informatik (5 LP): I understood very little during the TI lectures. It wasn't really a problem, fortunately, because the tutorials tended to fill in any gaps in understanding (or, to put it more accurately, our tutor taught us what we needed to know, which was often much less than what was covered in the lectures). It's not the best approach, I think, to go rapidly from slide to slide, providing huge amounts of information without expecting students to remember or understand the majority thereof. On the other hand, I can see how it can be useful to be exposed to a variety of concepts, even on a very superficial level. It makes learning new material less daunting if one already recognizes some things.
Final Mark: 1,0

Logik und Diskrete Mathematik (8 LP): I rather enjoyed this course, but I think it tended to bring out my conceited side. Otherwise, I don't have much to say about it.
Final Mark: 1,0

Lineare Algebra I (10 LP): This was my favourite and most challenging course. The professor was very good, for one thing. He clearly cares for the subject and for the students, to the point that he offered an extra (optional) tutorial once per week for students who were having difficulty with the material, as well as for students who simply wanted to deepen or solidify their understanding.
As for the assignments, they were generally difficult and time consuming, but definitely worthwhile. It's a lovely feeling to come upon a solution to a problem that one has been tackling for hours (or even days), and I enjoyed trying to make my solutions as elegant as possible.
Final Mark: 1,3

Note: LP stands for "Leistungspunkte" (i.e. credits)

By the by: Apparently, if one does a search for "shortcrust for remote desktop" (although I can't imagine why one would conduct such a search), this blog is one of the top hits. The brief summary generated by Google is as follows: "... from student organizations to remote access (VPN, Remote Desktop, ..... all of the above can be replaced by one or two balls of shortcrust pastry. ...". :oD


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