I wasn’t expecting these until early January, so I was pleasantly surprised when my M208 course materials arrived yesterday. The course books themselves are lovely, very nicely designed. I love the hexagonal tiling pattern on the covers, I’ve had a bit of thing for hexagons, ever since reading Finding Moonshine. This honeycomb pattern particularly appeals to me because it reminds me of three awesome things: bees, circle packing and Blockbusters.

And the contents of the books are even better! I’m so happy that I can finally get on with the Group Theory A units, I’ve been almost literally drooling with anticipation. I’ve started unit GTA2 (Groups and subgroups) today, and so far it’s been lots of fun. It did take me a little while to get used to the format of the example solutions, which have the proof of a result down the right-hand side and explanatory comments down the left-hand side, though. I wonder if those “training wheel” explanations will be omitted from the later units?

The group theory units come with some DIY papercraft models of the platonic solids, which gave me a chuckle since I’ve only just finished making my own models:

Papercraft platonic solid models
I might make the blue OU versions as well, you can never have too many platonic solids!

I’m really pleased to have my hands on the first assignment booklet too – it’s very nice to know exactly when the first four TMAs will be due, and exactly what each question covers. The first TMA is split into two parts: Part 1 covers Unit I1, and is due in on the 12th February, while Part 2 covers Units I2 and I3, and has a cut-off date of 5th March. The next few TMAs seem spaced out so that there’s one every four or five weeks: TMA02 is due in on 09/03/10, TMA03 on 21/05/10, and TMA04 on 25/06/10. It’s a bit intimidating, but hopefully it won’t be much more strenuous a schedule than the one I had to work to last year, for M366 and MS221. At least I’ll only have one exam to worry about!