edx 6.00x – week 8, week 9, a confession and onto Midterm 2

It’s been a while since I wrote about my progress on edX 6.00x. However,  the course has been fairly uneventful until a couple of evenings ago when I completed problem set 8 (which was part of week 9, due to the US Thanksgiving holiday). It’s a little more stressful now, as I’m trying desperately to work out where I might manage to fit in a few hours before 0459 GMT on Monday morning to take the second Midterm exam.

Week 8 consisted of a single lecture sequence and a few finger exercises on sampling and probabilities, hashing algorithms and Monte Carlo methods. All pretty straightforward fare, especially with no problem set to solve. Week 9 started with a lecture sequence on statistical thinking covering variances and standard deviations, followed by a sequence on distributions. So far, all of the statistics covered on the course have been descriptive and despite the original syllabus suggesting that some inferential statistics would be covered, there’s been no sign of them … yet! All in all, week 9 has been a reminder of some of the statistical concepts covered during my OU psychology courses. The difference this time has been that I’ve had to write my own code to calculate things rather than relying on an application like SPSS.

I have a confession to make about problem set 8 – which involved using Python and Pylab to implement a stochastic simulation of patient and virus population dynamics. It took me 12 of the allowed 30 submissions before I managed to get the big emerald tick for my ResistantVirus class. A large number of those resubmissions were down to user error. These went something like:

“Hmm. I have test case 7 wrong. Let’s look at my code. Oh – I see the problem. Hack hack hack hack … ok, select the class to copy from the IDLE window, control C. Over to edX browser window. Ah. my old code is still in the grader. Control A, Control C … whoops, no Control X. Time to post my new code in. Control V. Grade. What?!??! Still wrong? Ok, let’s tweak the code again …”

Anyway, I eventually got there – but I was right a couple of hours earlier on than I’d realised. I will need to be far more careful on Midterm 2 …

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