Between working half-time, surfing the web aimlessly, studying for the actuarial exam, and chatting with Brian on IM, my days are passing quietly.

Well, they passed quietly (and I was able to chat with Brian and work on the actuarial exam study) until Brian broached the subject of politics. That’s one area that we don’t tend to agree on too much, it seems.

Stupid politics.

My need to study combined with my need to do something other than study has resulted in me cleaning off my desk and installing a chat client on my powerbook. Now I have arcane mathematics to my left, and the appeal of the internet to my right. While that might generally be a Bad Idea, I’ve been pretty good about things. Until this political discussion, that is.

A math problem, for those so inclined:

f(x+h) – f(x) = 3(x^2)h + 3x(h^2) + (h^3) + 2h

f(0) = 1

Let g(x) = (e^-x)f(x)

Calculate g'(3). (Your answer should look like we^(-3), where w is some number.)

I’ll be even more impressed if you solve this by using the definition of the derivative, instead of Brian’s way.

(Nah—Brian’s way was perfectly legitimate. He just robbed me of the pleasure of watching him rediscover the derivative definition, is all, and I’m mildly bitter.)

Of course, I know I only have half a chance in heck of Eric solving this problem. Renee once observed that she has never met a math major(/graduate) who didn’t love math—and I suspect that she’s right. I can honestly say I was impressed by how clever the above problem is… of course, that was back when I was unaware of a way to solve the problem without using the definition of derivative.

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