First day of class. First day of class on the tenure track. First day of class doing something that, for a while, I wasn’t sure I dared dream I could do.
I don’t know for sure what will stick in memory from this day or from this quarter, but I know there will be things that will stick because of the ephemeral sweetness of a first time doing something.
I know that some things will go well and others poorly, but I will improve from here. Right now I am still acclimatizing to this place, to this culture, and trying to figure out what I need to do.
I didn’t do much math today; mostly I tried to start the foundation of a classroom culture that is warm and accepting, supportive, hardworking, where everyone can have a voice if she or he wants.
The one fun math thing I did was in the numerical methods class for the master’s students. I said epsilon > 0. True or false, 1+epsilon > 1. And we voted. Everyone voted for true. Including me. And I voted for false too. And then explained that for a mathematician the statement is obviously and trivially true. But not so on a computer. I pulled up Python and did a demo to show. And that’s to some extent what the class is about. How and why do computers make mathematical errors and what can we do to avoid them?
And onward from here. Today 3 classes taught. Tomorrow, 9 am, my 4th class taught at my new school.