May 10th 2015
Today, just a forewarning, this post contains Maths.
If I’ve not made it clear, by now, to any readers who do not personally know me, I study Maths at University. Just straight Maths, no add-ons, no extras. Just Maths.
And when I say that to most people, their first thought is probably/possibly/usually “Ewww, numbers. I don’t like numbers.”
Well you know what? I love numbers.
That’s why I did maths.
I get a kick out of problem solving. Give me an absolutely hideous equation with a metric fuck tonne of (and excuse me for my language here, but I’m about to use some terms you may not have thought about since Secondary School) variables, derivatives, integrals, summations, progressions et al, and I will, and usually can, solve it.
I’ll find x. I’ll find the limit of the function as epsilon tends to infinity. I’ll use the Euler-Lagrange method to prove that the function can be written as a Volterra equation.
And I’m being deliberately over-descriptive and confusing here because Maths is pretty confusing. I just happen to be reasonably good at it.
Well, I’m good at solving problems, at least.
You see, the thing is, Maths isn’t like that. Not my Maths at least. All those numbers and equations and solutions? I left them in College. They’re long gone.
No one cares what the solution to the equation is any more.
Now they want to know why I’m using that method, and if I can prove that that’s the method to use, and what they really want to know is how good my memory is.
Because if you had literally zero mathematical ability but had a good memory you could pass my degree with ease. Because my maths, the equations and the formulae and the solution, that’s worth like 20% of the paper.
The rest of it is “can you remember this two page proof and recite it word for word as it appears in the notes?”
If you got a C in GCSE Maths but you can remember a string of words then congratulations, you just got a first class honours degree in Mathematics.
You don’t even need to understand what it is you’re saying, hell, I haven’t got a clue what half of it means, but if your memory is good then you’re over half way there.
I know people who didn’t (and don’t) speak a word a French but got A*’s in their French language speaking exam because they just learnt a page of French words, not having the foggiest what any of them meant, and repeated them when asked. Boom. A*.
It’s really that easy.
The problem is that I’m not one of those people. I don’t have that kind of memory. So instead I have to rely on the equations and formulas to get me as many marks as I can, but I’m limited. I’m limited because I can’t do the rest of it, the proofs, the theorems, the definitions, the lemmas, the derivation of the Celebrated Black-Scholes Formula and why, and how it differs from the Black-Scholes formula. And yes that is a real question I’ll be asked, and no the answer is not “one of them was having a party”
Until tomorrow, just let me solve for x.