My Master’s Thesis was, after all, my first “published book”

Strong Hall, University of Kansas, 2006, Lawrence KS

In the course of moving most of my content to this site based on my legal name, I recently placed a PDF (photographic) of the 1968 Master’s Thesis at the University of Kansas, called “Minimax Rational Function Approximation”.  The link for the summary (ordinary html) is this, and the link for the document itself is this.

The subject matter comes from an areas of applied mathematics called “numerical analysis”.  I gave a technical talk on this thesis for at least one job interview in early 1970 when I was leaving the Army, at RCA David Sarnoff Labs in Princeton NJ, which became my first job.  I think I also gave a talk on it at Bell Labs in northern NJ on another interview.

I remember my experiences as a graduate student at KU (from Feb. 1966 to Jan. 1968) well, and they are described in detail in Chapter 2 of my first DADT book, or even more detail here.  

I also had a teaching assistantship (as explained in the book). In those days, graduate teaching assistants made up their own tests, and had some “power”, which was a sensitive issue in the days young men faced a military draft due to the Vietnam War, and could literally get a combat MOS (infantry) if drafted if they had flunked out of college (this would change in 1969).  All of this would lead to my losing the assistantship for a year (when I worked as a programmer).  The tests I gave were reasonable according to what I had been used to even in high school.  But I did say something to a department prof that I had no right to say (insubordinate) whatever my convictions.  I guess one could say I had been complicit in “oppression”.

When I was in Army Basic myself in the spring of 1968, I was called “algebra” or “professor” by the cadre, even when I was in Special Training Company because of my physical retardation (medically, dyspraxia).

After my mainframe IT career “cardiac arrest” (DADT Book 3, Chapter 4), 93 days post 9/11, I considered becoming a math teacher, in the days of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”. 

I became a sub in the spring of 2004 and have described my experiences here.  There is a lot more nuance to convey about this experience, which I will revisit in a future post (it’s generating a screenplay). In September 2007 I did pass the ETS Mathematics teacher Praxis exam.  I felt I had recovered a lot of my knowledge at home. 

I recall the very first class I attended at KU early on a Monday afternoon like Feb. 7, 1966 was algebraic topology.  It blew me away and I changed immediately to an upper undergraduate course in mathematical analysis (and made a B –  grad school was hard at first).  Algebraic topology (extended to more dimensions) could explain a lot of physics, and maybe make space travel possible after all.

When I subbed, I sometimes had AP classes, and noticed with interest how some exams are setup. The student has to do part 1 of the exam without a graphing calculator, turn it in, and then do part 2 with the calculator, and budget eir time accordingly.

I do remember that in integral calculus, the exam problems could be “hard to motivate”.  You really had to know the substitutions (trigonometric, and hyperbolic)  You had to understand how euler’s number and natural logs work, in a special way.  I remember integration by parts, and integration by partial fractions (vaguely). 

But I wouldn’t be able to work many YouTube problems today.

I’ll share a video by Physics grad student Andrew Dotson, at New Mexico State University (meet his cat).

And here is John Fish’s “a day of calculus”  (he graduated from Harvard in computer science, especially “mind, brain, and behavior” – sounds good for a startup to me). He indeed did “kill” that freshman calculus final exam.

(Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)

Author: Jboushka

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