The End Approaches

This was the penultimate week of class for this quarter.  The students are tired of quizzes and homework and I’m tired of grading.  The topic was interesting, graph theory.  Graphs are important in computer science which has endless applications involving networks.  But I wonder if any perceived student interest at this point in the quarter is just an echo of my voice. Some thoughts on teaching this week.

  • Some of my students tried to slip in homework with correct answers but incorrect derivations.  How desperate are you when you write C(25, 20) – C(10,4) = 46,761 just because the answer to the problem is 46,761.  Am I that easy to fool?
  • Some of my students came to class on Monday expecting an in-class quiz–but I had announced last week, and emailed to all students, that the quiz was changed to take-home and was due on Monday at the start of class.  Is my teaching so unchanging that they are hypnotized into a false reality?
  • One of my students had questions about a C-language program I wrote to answer a question about group selection.  The program represented all the possible choices for the group in a 16-bit integer (16 students to choose from)–the integer was incremented from 0 to 2^16-1.  The program then counted the number of bit patterns with exactly eight ones (the size of the group); and used masks to identify and subtract any 8-bit pattern that did not have at least one freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.  The student programs, but not often in C.  He was skeptical of the approach; why do things using bit representations?  Why indeed in this time of limitless memory.  But it still feels good to get close to the machine.
  • The quarter is quickly closing and I’m beginning to think about what I should change for next quarter.  I haven’t engaged the students often with group projects.  There are some topics, especially graph theory which is replete with computer algorithms, that offer good examples.
  • Finally, some of my students wanted to know what questions will be on the final; could I tell them exactly what to study.  They know the answer to their question; the question is, will they know the answers to my questions on the final.

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