I really, really love the Algebra Workout programs that go along with the MS221 course texts – I watched the program on modular arithmetic earlier this week, and it was immensely helpful. Prior to that, I felt utterly confused about Euclid’s algorithm and finding multiplicative inverses, but once I’d seen the process worked through on the DVD, somehow made everything sense!

In fact, now that I actually understand how to do it, it’s quite enjoyable. And of course, using Euclid’s algorithm was especially good fun during the section in the course text about ciphers – there’s something really appealing about deciphering secret messages! I’ve been intrigued by cryptography and cryptanalysis since reading Simon Singh’s excellent The Code Book a couple of months ago, so I was really pleased to get the chance to do a bit of practical maths involving ciphers. I like the idea of learning how to actually break ciphers, but I think that might be a bit ambitious for a Level 2 maths student!

Anyway, now that I’ve finished Chapter D2 and its associated TMA questions, I’ll be getting started on the penultimate chapter tomorrow, which is about groups and symmetry. I’m looking forward to this chapter quite a lot, because the topics are completely new to me; there’s a chance I won’t like group theory, but either way I’m just excited to find out what it’s all about – and if it turns out that I do enjoy it, then there’s a nice chunky Level 3 course in the subject that I could aim for, which is always a good incentive to study harder!

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