Homework 4

Your next homework assignment is now posted in the Assignments tab. It is this:

Section 1.3: 5

Section 1.4: 8

Section 2.5: 9, 11

Section 3.1: 2, 10, 19

Due: Thursday, 27 February 2014, in class.

There was a lot to take in during class today.

The cheese shop in Madrid is PonceletQuints is the Disney Channel original movie from 2000. Quince is the fruit that may figure in the original versions of certain apple-related myths. In the Loop is the film in which a character mentions quince paste once. It’s really, really funny, especially if you like wildly creative swearing by an irritable Scotsman (played by Peter Capaldi, who was recently announced to be the Twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who (I don’t watch, but a lot of people are all about Doctor Who so it’s worth a mention)). Once when I was home for the summer from college In the Loop seemed always to be playing on HBO, so I ended up watching it a bunch of times, which is why I remember a throwaway line about quince paste (actually it was a pretty funny line, but you’ll just have to watch the film).

If In the Loop is the movie I’ve seen the most, The Tallest Man on Earth is the artist I’ve seen perform live the most, at six times1 — every year since 2008, except for 2011 when he didn’t come to New York (luckily I’d seen him twice in 2010). He’s really just that good. This connects to a hyperlink in the previous paragraph: In 2008 I saw TTMoE open for Bon Iver, whom I’d previously seen open for Elvis Perkins, whom I’d previously seen open for Cold War Kids! Wow. I’d previously seen Cold War Kids open for Muse, but that’s where the chain ends because I was too young to ever catch Muse open for anyone. Oh, and the opener for one of the Tallest Man shows was S. Carey, who played drums for none other than … Bon Iver. Talk about a strange loop

1A close second is Thom Yorke, whom I’ve seen five times — four times with Radiohead, once with Atoms for Peace.

The Judgment of Paris, by Peter Paul Rubens (Museo del Prado):


“If God dwells inside of us like some people say, I sure hope He likes enchiladas, because that’s what He’s getting.”

Homework 2 – clarification

For problem number 17 in section 2.4, the vector b is a column vector. The reason for this is because the entries are separated by commas rather than just spaces.

This is done in order to preserve uniform line spacing in a paragraph. I think I may have mentioned this in class but I’m not sure.

Before he was a grizzled old Obama-chair-hatingPBR-swillingOscarwinning curmudgeon, Clint Eastwood starred in many of director Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. They’re some of my favorite movies ever, not least because of Ennio Morricone’s brilliant scores. The theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is, of course, the most famous, but there is a lot more to his work. A Gringo Like Me is a pretty fun song that enjoyed a slight bump in popularity after the Lonely Island dropped it in their criminally underrated film Hot Rod. And I’ve always loved the pocket watch theme from For a Few Dollars More; the tune is good on its own but absolutely brilliant in the context of the film, which is tighter and leaner than TGTB&TU, if not nearly as epic and awe-inspiring.

Anyway, the reason I’m thinking about Sergio Leone movies is because of this incisive piece of commentary from Jack Handey:

“If you’re a cowboy and you’re dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.”


Office Hours Wednesday 5 February / Some thoughts

My dear students,

In light of the impending meteorological calamity, I will not be holding office hours tomorrow. I will make up for this by being in my office on Thursday from 11:30-12:30 offering help to all comers. You should also consider availing yourselves of the assistance offered by your friendly and knowledgable TAs (see the syllabus for location and time details).

A note on homework: On Thursday, please hand in your homework at the beginning of class. Please write your homework on a separate piece of paper from the assignment sheet. Please staple together the separate sheets of your responses, if separate sheets there be. And please, if you write your answers on a sheet of loose leaf torn from a notebook, use the perforations to avoid ragged edges on the page. If there are no perforations, then find something else on which to write, because those ragged edges really get me steamed.

“Most of the time it was probably real bad being stuck down in a dungeon. But some days, when there was a bad storm outside, you’d look out your little window and think, ‘Boy, I’m glad I’m not out in that.'”

This is the opening track to F#A# , the (a previous effort, which doesn’t really count, notwithstanding) début LP from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and one of the greatest albums released in the past couple of decades (their follow-up, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, is perhaps even better). Maybe a lot of you won’t be into it, but I would bet that a few of you will be bowled over.


Final exam grades are posted

So it took a little longer than I expected, but after many exhausting hours I have finished grading your exams. Now I have to figure out all the averages. Luxury life.

Here’s a list of the albums I listened to, in order, while grading the exams. I listened to the entirety of each, except the last one, which I’m listening to now.

The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground
(Ten) Years Together – Peter, Paul and Mary
The Graduate – Simon & Garfunkel
Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme – Simon & Garfunkel
Spanish Virtuoso – Angel Romero
Lullabies of Birdland – Ella Fitzgerald
Silence Yourself – Savages
Slow Focus – Fuck Buttons
Somewhere Else – Indians
Today We’re Believers – Royal Canoes
Torres – Torres
True Romance – Charli XCX
Untitled Love EP – Adesse
When The Night – St. Lucia
Yeezus – Kanye West
6 Feet Beneath The Moon – King Krule
Almanac – Widowspeak
AM – Arctic Monkeys
Amygdala – DJ Koze
Herein Wild – Frankie Rose
Holy Fire – Foals
Howlin’ – Jagwar Ma
Hummingbird – Local Natives
Immunity – Jon Hopkins
London EP – Banks
Major Arcana – Speedy Ortiz
Matangi – M.I.A.
Monomania – Deerhunter
Night Time, My Time – Sky Ferreira
Nothing Was The Same – Drake
Old – Danny Brown
Once I Was An Eagle – Laura Marling

HW 9

The last homework is here. It will be due Monday 2 December 2013, in class. 

Section 4.2: 7, 8
Section 3.5: 20
Section 5.3: 1, 2, 3(a) and (b)
You’ll want to use a computer to calculate some of the matrices in some of the problems. I recommend using Matlab through the Virtual SINC site:
To borrow a phrase from Rubeus Hagrid: it’s dead useful.

Sometimes when I listen to a lot of new music it is a little overwhelming and it’s hard to remember what was good and what was not so good. So sometimes I’m a little surprised when I go back to certain certain artists and I have that old familiar feeling of listening to a song that I like. It’s a good feeling. Anyway, 

Banks (she has more danceable songs like this one, which is not to be confused with the track of the same name from earlier this year by Iggy Azalea (new remix dropped recently is pretty good, if somewhat brostep for my taste), 
Deptford Goth (he’s kind of like James Blake meets The xx except a little less minimalist), 
Adesse (sample on that track is from O Superman by Laurie Anderson, who’s OG and the recent widow of Lou Reed, the legend. If you get nothing out of this class but the fact that The Velvet Underground were one of the best bands ever, I’ll have done my job (okay, not really, but they were amazing. Their début was the first album I ever bought on vinyl)),
and Perera Elsewhere are pretty good.
In other news, winter is coming:

HW 7 Solutions posted / The rest of the year

– You may be interested to know that the solutions to homework 7 are available for viewing in the Documents tab. 

– I will hold office hours as usual tomorrow from 3-5

– Our last in-class test will be on the last day of class: Wednesday 4 December 2013; it will cover all the material we’ve done since the second test. I’ll post a more comprehensive list of subjects for you as the date approaches. Note that there are only two days of new material left. 
– Start thinking about the material you found most difficult throughout the year, so I can focus on that during the review class (Monday 2 December 2013). Send me emails about it and I’ll take note of what people have found most difficult.

So I’m listening to this artist called Druid Cloak and this track Ghost Iron comes up and reminds me of J Dilla which is weird because Druid Cloak is more of a future garage producer but anyway I took it as a sign to mention J Dilla to you, because J Dilla is dope. Donuts is one of the best instrumental albums of all time. That playlist isn’t mixed ideally for listening to the album, but it’s still good. Every time I have cause to say “working on it” I do it like the Dilla track Workinonit. 

Other tight, essential albums: Endtroducing….. by DJ Shadow and Music Has The Right to Children by Boards of Canada (both stone-cold classics), From Here We Go Sublime by The Field and Untrue  by Burial (not really similar albums, but they both came out in the same year and were a big reason I got into electronic music. Actually all five of these albums are quite different from one another.)
Did you know that SUNY students get free admission to the MoMA????? I just found out, and I’m super stoked. Gonna get my Magritte on this weekend! Y’all ain’t ready! 
Between that and the Met‘s policy of ‘recommended’ ticket prices (a.k.a., pay two dollars cos I’m poor (one of my friends only gives a penny)) life is good in our fair state for those of high taste and low income.

HW 8 posted / old hw + exam pickup

Hello all,

Your next assignment is now posted in the usual place. Also, I will be in my office tomorrow afternoon from around 2:30 to 5:15 if you want to stop by to pick up your homework 7, or any other material from earlier in the semester that you might want. I can answer quick questions, too, but it won’t be a full-fledged office hour.

If you only read one poem today, make it The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T. S. Eliot.

If you only listen to one Solange Knowles-curated compilation album today, make it Saint Heron.
If you only look at one picture of cabbage today, make it this one:
That’s the logo for my fantasy team this year. I’m in first place.

HW 7 / documents / treasure chests

Hello students,

I’ve added new lecture notes in the Documents tab. The homework 6 solutions are also available. I’ve posted part of homework 7 in the Assignments tab, in case you want to get started. Tonight I will update the file to include the rest of the assignment.
If you’re scared of theoretical linear algebra, try sleeping with a night light. Just remember that running away from the problem won’t do any good. Even in its wildest moments, this subject is conquerable. 
This post brought to you by Jessie Ware, for some stupid reason. 
Locatelli pecorino romano cheese is the best cheese to put on pasta. Even better than parmigiano-reggiano. For real tho.

Homework 6 / Exam 2 / hippos are dangerous

Querid@s estudiantes,

 I’ve posted your current homework assignment, quite logically, in the Assignments tab. It is due in class on Wednesday 6 November 2013. If you didn’t get your exam back today, you can stop by my office tomorrow after 7pm and get it. I will also bring them to class on Monday. If you have a problem with the grading, come see me during office hours on Tuesday. 
 People give mad props to Nessun dorma, but my favorite part of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot is probably the Act II Finale. The melody that comes in at about 0:21 in that video is one of my favorites of all time. Actually, the Act III finale might be better. I don’t know. 
 There were a few female-fronted bands that came out with tight EPs last year and whose full-lengths I was looking forward to this year — AlunaGeorge, Chvrches (well, they had a single (The Mother We Share) out last year; the Recover EP didn’t come out until March), Lorde, and Lucius. Well, they’ve all put out LPs over the past few months, and, to my delight, they’re all good! Obviously Lorde has blown up, so I’m not telling you anything you don’t know about her, and Chvrches have also garnered a bit of acclaim so maybe you’ve heard them. But the other two are less well-known I think, so check them out if you don’t know them. (I recently bought tickets to a Lucius concert, is what made me think of writing this.) 
Watch out for hippos, though:
Ay, caramba!

Exam 2

Hello class,

 As you know, your second exam will take place this coming Wednesday, 23 October 2013, in class. No graphing calculators will be allowed. The exam will cover material from:
Section 3.1: Determinants: Calculating them, using them to solve systems of linear equations, knowing their properties including special cases in which the determinant is easy to calculate, using them to find eigenvalues and eigenvectors, using Cramer’s rule.
Section 3.2: Solving systems of linear equations by elimination: Gaussian elimination, row echelon form, three possibilities for a system: (i) a unique solution (ii) infinitely many solutions (iii) no solution. Finding LU factorization of A aka LU decomposition of A and using it to solve Ax=b. Elimination by pivoting aka Gauss-Jordan elimination.
Section 3.3: Inverse of a matrix: Definition of an inverse, how to prove one matrix is the inverse of another (use the definition), what does it mean when the matrix has an inverse, computing the inverse, properties of the inverse. Eigenvalue decomposition of A aka diagonalization of A — what is it, how do you do it, why is it useful (study carefully pp. 204-207 of the text).
Section 3.4: Iteration: Determining dominant eigenvalue and corresponding eigenvalue by iteration (Example 2 on p. 216), solving Leontief model by iteration using properties of the geometric sum (Example 4 on p. 221, and the preceding analysis). Solution by iteration (p.223). Rewriting Ax=b to be in form x = Dx + c (sometimes c = b, sometimes not — see Example 5 (which we did in class)). Theorem 3 on p. 230.
 Everything I did in class that’s not in the textbook is also fair game. Specifically, you should know that theorem I presented on 9 October with a whole bunch of conditions that are equivalent. I neglected to name it when I presented it, but I will call it … the Fundamental Theorem of Invertible Matrices.
Come see me in office hours on Tuesday, and take advantage of the TAs’ hours as well.
For practice, you should review carefully all the examples I presented in class, redo the homework problems (without reference to your previous solutions, my posted solutions, or the textbook), and do similar problems in the textbook. Like these:
Section 3.1: 1, 3, 5, 7, 17, 20, 23, 27
Section 3.2: 3ef, 4ef, 5, 9c, 15 (also by pivoting), 22
Section 3.3: 10, 19, 21, 22, 25, 29, 31, 32, 33
Section 3.4: I haven’t yet decided how exactly I’m going to test your knowledge of this part, since a lot of the implementation of what’s going on here requires a computer, but study the examples closely. Exercises: 7, 8, 13b, 14
You don’t have to do all of them because that would take a while, probably. Just make sure you feel like you could solve them all.
You should check out this album I’m listening to right now, I’m not going to say the name of the band because it’s got an obscenity in it but if you can get over that fact the album is called Slow Focus, it’s tight.
How great is Jaleel White’s face in this poster?