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Friday, August 19, 2011

About mathematics at the Open University

There are of course many differences between studying ( mathematics ) at the Open University and studying math at a brick university. The main difference is of course the main method of delivering knowledge: course booklets versus lectures with accompanying lecture notes. A brick university course is often based upon some textbook. Homework includes reading assignments and exercises. An Open University booklet is a mix of theory, worked examples and exercises. If the method of presentation matches the way you like to learn math following a course is easy. - The way mathematics is presented in textbooks (at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level ) is however completely different. If you learn all your math from Open University booklets this may come as a shock, since the skill to read mathematics books hasn't been developed. Compare a graduate math book in your field of interest with one of the level 3 booklets to see what I mean. Or to put it differently: you have not been initiated in the ( secret ) protocols of how mathematicians communicate.

The challenge can best be met by attempting to solve the exercises without recourse to the hints. The density of information in the text is rather high; a newcomer may need one hour for one page. Make sure to have paper and pencil at hand when reading the text.

Wolfgang Rautenberg in "A Concise Introduction to Mathematical Logic 3rd edition, Springer 2010, preface"


  1. Yes fortunately the MSc remedies this defect so I would argue a mathematics education from the OU is not complete until you have done the MSc or at least a substantial part of it.

  2. @Chris, I hoped you disagreed. Because, although the format of the booklets is different they mimic what activities should be done when reading -any- ( good ) mathematics book.

    Expect many more posts about the ( secret ) protocols of mathematics.


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