Week 4, and beyond.

Week 4 has just ended, and it’s 2 more weeks to recess week, 3 more to midterms. That’s really very, very fast.

Where did all the time go?

Newton’s first law explains this very well. I read an article recently about how the laws of physics can be related to productivity, and this is exactly what is happening. The ball is starting to roll, and I believe it’s only going to roll faster as time goes on.

I think it’s good to do a module by module reflection on what I’ve learnt, and let’s try to connect the dots.

CS1101S: Programming Methodology (5 MCs)

People who take this module are often viewed as ‘crazy’. It’s probably one of the first few ‘difficult choices’ that a student can choose in School of Computing. I believe I’ve written in my previous post that I had to go through an interview to make sure that I was crazy enough to take this module. This module is a game. We submit our code through an online academy called the JFDI Academy, and there will be regular missions and sidequests. This online portal will constitute 35% of our overall results. What I feel about this system is really simple.

It encourages you to do your work. 

What’s more fun than applying what you learnt in lesson to a certain task you have on hand? Previous weeks we’ve done 2D/3D graphics, along with curves and fractals. Along with really advanced analytical things such as order of growth, data abstraction and next week, we’re diving into RSA Encryption. This is one of the few modules that I’m really into, though it really frustrates me at times when I don’t understand what’s going on in the code. (That’s what professors/tutors are there for right?)

Oh did I miss out that there is a leaderboard? My logic for getting onto the leaderboard is simple. It doesn’t matter who is consistently on the leaderboard, so long as you make it onto the leaderboard in the end, you are the final winner. Such a ranking system is dynamic, and being on the leaderboard for once or twice right now doesn’t signify anything. Rather, it signifies who has been consistently doing work early, and participating actively in the discussion forums. It does not reflect solely on how well your understanding of the material is. There’s mid-terms and finals for that.

Value learning over results, quality of work over how early you finish your work. 

That’s what I have to convince myself for this particular module. Of course I have to at least score an A- for this module in order to do the next crazy module, CS2020: Data Structures and Algorithms (Accelerated) (6 MCs), next semester. But first we have to understand, then synthesise, followed by the results. 🙂

CS1231: Discrete Structures (4 MCs)

This is a module that (almost) every senior warned us about. Yes, it is difficult, it is something new, but it is definitely not something useless.

So far we’ve done proofs, logic and boolean algebra. Right now we’re at Set Theory. This module is changing the way I think about problems, and in fact about life as a whole. We’re essentially studying logic. The module is not exactly as mathematical as it seems, but then again, what is mathematics? It is a study of logic, of how we could use our brain to make sense of a certain idea. 

We’ve learnt in lectures that a set is simply an idea. You can’t see a set, you can’t feel a set, but you know that it’s there. If this is the case for mathematics, then mathematics itself is just an idea. We’re playing with ideas that may or may not even exist!

So far, this module has been about a play on words. How to make sense of mathematical notions and symbols in English. The crux of this module is to train how we think, to sharpen our logical abilities. How the hell is this useless?

MA1521: Calculus for Computing (4 MCs)

In a way, this feels easier than H2 mathematics. Or is it because this is just the beginning? Either way, this module is currently is simply calculus, and the mathematics that we’re all so used to. Differentiation and integration. Study, practice and you’ll probably do well. What’s new right?

LSM1301: General Biology (4 MCs)

This module is surprisingly fast. The lecturer goes through most of the slides every lesson, and always assigns us to watch the webcast afterwards. In a way I’ve been neglecting this module a lot. Not reading it etc. Some say this is an easy A. But I guess nothing is easy in university, and I’m not taking any chances with that.

I should probably start revising some of the stuff for this module :\

GEM1902M: On Blindness

This is a Tembusu Junior Seminar that I’m taking. There are lots of advices online about taking a ‘fun module’ every semester. This would exactly be what this module is about. Fun. 

In fact, what we learn has nothing to do with blindness at all, since blindness could really mean anything. We’ve read Fragments by Heraclitus, and Before the Law by Franz Kafka. In fact, what we discuss about in class is so broad and deep that sometimes I have a tough time connecting the dots. Maybe just an example (my favourite) to illustrate what we discuss about:

You cannot step twice into the same rivers; for fresh waters are flowing in upon you.

As we interpreted this fragment, or as anyone else would interpret it, it really has the notion of change is constant. The river is always flowing, and the water we are standing in changes for every moment we step into the river. But then, what happens at the very instant when our feet touches the water? There is no comprehension. What happens in that moment becomes the past in the next frame, but at that very exact frame, there is no meaning. In a way, it could mean that life has no meaning if you don’t compare it with memories of the past.

Deep? You bet, that’s the first lesson, but the next few lessons are on more solid passages. Previous lesson was on Kafka, and the next on another passage not as abstract as the one above.

Remember I mentioned about CS1231 changing the way I think about things?

Its usefulness can be seen in this module that I’m taking. How do I know if something is true? What implies what, proof by exhaustion, contradiction etc. In some ways, philosophy and mathematics are very related. Plato was a philosopher as well as a mathematician, so were Archimedes and Socrates.


I think based on the length of each module, you could see which modules I’m really interested in, and which few I’m taking for the sake of taking. 🙂 But fret not, I have learnt that to make life easier, fall in love with the things you don’t like. This way doing work wouldn’t be a chore, but something enjoyable.

Oh and did I mention, I made it into my faculty’s basketball team! 😀

Photo 5-9-14 22 13 52

Photo 5-9-14 22 13 44

The jerseys look really awesome, and 18 because I really didn’t have any preferences. I was so glad to just make the team. The competition is tomorrow, and hope things will go well!

I think basketball has given me a boost in confidence in whatever I do. It’s a sport that requires you to be self-confident. Taking wide open shots with courage and stability. Really a useful skill to have in life as well.

Side note: I think I’ve been studying too much recently, spent my last weekend in school finishing work that was piling up. I’m glad I did it though, my week was relatively more manageable. Basketball is somewhat a stress-reliever. Oh and not to forget, my suite mate installed a chin-up bar at the toilet door. Best. Thing. Ever. 😀

Here’s to three more weeks before mid-terms, let’s go! 🙂

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