Happenings – 2012 Nov 24

This week marks the real beginning of the holiday season here in the U.S. Many people get Thursday and Friday off – and Friday may be a bigger shopping day than the day after Xmas.

I worked on Control Theory Example 1 some more. I’m just going to have to compute the phase margin in the general case, I think. But if I struggle with it, I may switch to writing up the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – I think I have the post pretty well laid out in my head.

I did re-work the computation of XYZ tristimulus values for the data in this comment, using a D50 illuminant instead of equal intensity; the result is still a red color on my monitor, as I would hope… since the data was for a Pantone red of some kind.

As for that imaging course starting in January, I actually owned two of the 5 books listed, not just one… and having ordered and received two more, I’m well set.

And the 8-week course I’m taking now, computational investing? It’s moving quite a bit slower than the professor had hoped. The syllabus called for 8 quizzes and 5 homework assignments. Well, the second homework assignment will be graded as quiz 3 – oops, quiz 4 – due Friday Nov 30, i.e. toward the end of week 5. If nothing else, I’ve gotten to run Python… and learned the CAPM.

But there’s a another similar course starting up in mid December, so maybe I’ll start it and see how it goes. Alas, that will overlap with the image processing course… which will overlap with the controls course…. I’m going to be taking on too much, I fear. But Coursera encourages people to do as much or as little as they can or wish. (If you search on Coursera, you’ll see that I’ve talked about it in recent Happenings posts.)

It may be that the real value of these courses will be different from regular courses.

  • You can get the flavor of a subject… a feeling for what’s involved in doing it… get some grease on your hands without having to actually get the car running again.
  • You can demonstrate that you have the prerequisites for a standard college class.

  • You get some deadlines to help you put in the time you should.

I have, after all, owned books on the CAPM for years, if not decades. Only under the impetus of this course did I go look at the CAPM and understand it. Yes, it’s only only chapter 2 of Roman’s “Introduction to the Mathematics of Finance” (Springer 0-387-21364-5)… but at least it got me started… on another of the myriad applications of math I want to delve into.

Similarly, I downloaded the R statistics package years ago – but it was the 4-week class that got me using it.

Let me also put in a plug for an alternative: The Teaching Company’s “The Great Courses”. These are lectures on DVD or CD (the audio CDs are great for car trips). So far, all the professors but one have been excellent, and even that one wasn’t bad. On the other hand, there are no deadlines to meet… and my friends and I have each got substantial backlogs of lectures to watch. I offer you one crucial piece of advice: at some point in the year, each course will be available at at least 70% off the list price. Do not ever pay list price for a course. (That is, at any given time, a select few dozen out of their hundreds of courses are available at 70% off.)

And with that, it’s time to do my own math.

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