A Revelation: Smarter than a Caveman!

Friday 2nd May 2008

So I’ve spent the last few hours working on, alternately, design and maths coursework.

Design coursework doesn’t confuse me at all. I’ve got little bits here and there to tidy up, a report to write, and a drawing to print, and then it’s Done.

Maths does. I’ve just got back from the IT room after spending since about half 9 trying to get a bit of Matlab code to work, which is meant to solve the Heat Equation using an implicit finite difference method. I’ve got it working with an explicit method, and that’s all hunky dory, but adapting that code for the implicit method is just confusing. It’s only giving a solution on one row of the matrix; that row being the inital value being fed into the script! The rest of the matrix is just zero, which is less than useful.

At one point I commented out about half of the code, to work out what those lines were meant to be doing. No change, whatsoever. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Pretty much all of us in the IT room were trying to crack that thing (well, actually most had given up by the time I left), and all of us had the same problem. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Basically, this is a lesson to not dick about with code if you only have a vague idea what it’s meant to do, and have what can be generously described as a “limited” knowledge of the language…

I guess its the same sort of result you’d get if you gave a car to a caveman and told him to make it go. He wouldn’t even know what the damn thing is meant to do, let alone how to make it do it. I imagine he’d just look at it, and maybe bash it with a stick, and then eventually get bored and walk off.

That said, I’ve worked out what my code is meant to do, and I kind of know how to do it, but just not enough to actually make Matlab do it. So I’m officially smarter than a Caveman!

Not saying much though, is it?

Anyway, I should go finish stuff! I’m probably not gonna sleep tonight. It’s gonna take me a couple of hours to finish design, then ages to finish maths, and then tomorrow morning I’ve got to meet the other members of my group for design to finish some stuff off and hand it in, so there’s probably no point sleeping, even if I get chance.

Actually, I’m looking forward to that meeting. One of them left me alone, logged on to his uni user account earlier (cos i needed to do battle with the Demon Plotter of Death, and AutoCAD doesnt seem to like to work on my user account. Bizarre, I know). Changed his desktop to say “NASCAR is for gays” (yeah, a form of motorsport I don’t like!), put a nice pink colour scheme on all the windows, and so on. Amused me highly. It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s probably highly immature (oh god, that word again…), but who cares?

Posted at 2:28 am | Posted In: ProcrastinationRandomSleepStuff



Friday 2nd May 2008, 8:40 am

I’m guessing that there’s no analytic solution to the heat equation, and you’re not just a girl :P

And yeh, I hate delving into code I don’t understand trying to make it do anything. Half the time it just crashes. Which is fun.

Oh, also, you need to see the new Lost. It’s awesome-tastic. I feel kinda like my brain has been turned inside-out. Could just be the lack of sleep / the pro plus though.


Friday 2nd May 2008, 9:21 am

*shrugs* if there is, considering the module is all about numerical methods, I’m guessing it’d be cheating to use it :-p

Speaking of cheating, we had to write a script for this coursework which uses RK4 for.. something. I’m past caring, to be honest. Anyway, there’s a function built-in to Matlab for it anyway, I think. Was sooo tempting to just use that and be done with it…

mmm, someone has coffee near me. It smells nice.

Yeah, Lost. I set it off downloading a few hours ago, so with any luck it’ll be finished by now. I didnt sleep last night, so the question is: when I get back in, do I watch Lost or go to sleep? It’s a tricky one.


Friday 2nd May 2008, 5:30 pm

There is an analytic solution – we’ve done it in AMV (only we call it the diffusion equation. What’s in a name. It’s the same thing, anyway, just two different applications and the ‘heat-in-a-wire’ thing was mentioned as an aside). Separation of variables kicks numerical methods’ ass any day, and I should know :-P

It’s a very good lesson to learn. That was my exact bugbear, pretty much, with our Numerical practicals. I was fine with Maple once they actually let us try and understand it properly. I’d like to have a go at Matlab, come to that.

And incidentally, Andy, I’ll kick your ass any time soon if you continue to insinuate things about girls and calculus!


Saturday 3rd May 2008, 12:24 am

Is there a reason why you always post blog entries at ridiculous hours of the night?

This is a foreign language to me. And I call myself a scientist…


Saturday 3rd May 2008, 12:27 am

No real reason. Probably thats when I think about stuff, and have chance/inclination to write it down.

Last night, I’d just got back from Uni, and felt like having a rant before getting back on with work :D


Saturday 3rd May 2008, 2:30 pm

Oh, and re lucy:

“Separation of variables kicks numerical methods’ ass any day”

Yeah, the problem is that theres a few Engineering equations that can only be solved numerically. Off the top of my head, theres one to do with the design of RC columns, and a few in Hydraulics as well. So numerical methods have their uses!

I watched Lost yesterday, but at the time I hadnt slept for around 30 hours, so it kinda passed me by. I’m gonna watch it again now.


Saturday 3rd May 2008, 5:01 pm

Oh, I know that Numerical methods can be fantastically useful – that’s the entire point of my module ‘Numerical analysis’. Should you wish, I could calculate the number of computations needed to solve a linear matrix equation through Cholesky decomposition, and then compare it with the standard number needed to solve the system normally. I can also integrate numerically and minimise your floating point errors for a small fee :-P

But no, seriously. If you aren’t working in the real world or anything stupid like that, analytic methods are so much more satisfying!


Monday 5th May 2008, 10:30 am

You see, doing that kind of thing to people’s accounts, even though it is immature, is funny. If they have the nVidia graphics settings in the system tray and they’re coming back to that computer, turning the display 90 degrees is another classic.

Lucy, your post would read better in english =P


Monday 5th May 2008, 5:17 pm

The rotating monitor trick works for a few graphics cards, not just nVidia. It certainly works on my Eee, much to the delight of the friend I mentioned here. I didn’t know the keyboard shortcut to rotate the screen, until he borrowed the pc during a lab and returned it to me with everything upside down…

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