Sept.-30th-08. Welcome to the String Pattern Recognition blog. In half an hour I'll be teaching my first class. I wonder how many students will show up. I check the statistics on the web: seven. Only seven? Seven scatterbrains? Seven plucky fellows? At this School of Computer Science collapsing over its own pillars and in the throes of death before the happiest thoughtlessness of its (so-called) leaders, there are seven students in these course. Why are those students in my class? Do they know what they are in for?
Just come back from my class: they looked excited and full of energy. Time will tell, but at least that sensation is already giving me some hope. If everything works out, we'll get very far, both they and I. I proposed to teach this course in English on the strict condition that the whole class unanimously agrees. There was not such an unanimity. That also surprised me quite a lot. It is evident a low level of English shuts you in your own country, where, on the other hand, jobs in IT are neither well paid nor of high-quality. See the official reports showing that Spain has about a 30% of poor-quality jobs, having arising incidence among the IT ones. Ah, Spain, that great country devoted to setting up third parties products!
However, it is their decision.
October-7th-08. First day of class. Homage to Raymond Queneau: Homoeoptoton. With sincerity and no pomposity, I started complexity of algorithms. I explaned models of computation, such as real(ity) RAM with intensity, loquacity and the greatest inteligibility. I kindly stared at my students; some looked at me widening their eyes in anxiety and calamity; others gazed at me while keeping a stiff upper lip; most just kept a studied virtuosity. It seems there is sagacity, mental velocity and lucidity (there also was punctuality). In posteriority, I analyzed insertion sort algorithm. By necessity, I covered complexity analysis: worst-case and best-case, and because of its difficulty, I left aside probability. I tried to rule the class with ECTS(ity). I prompted them: "Participate, sharpen your sensibility, get to the point with brevity, taste originality, study high quality and above all… neither passivity, nor rickety will, nor frivolity, and still less mediocrity!"
With imperturbability, I told them to have operosity for next class: "Think up an algorithm for finding the median(ity), verify complexity, try to lower complexity to linearity, set equations with objectivity and opportunity. Finally, enjoy."
October-14th-08. They woke up - Surprises. But what are my eyes seeing? What are my ears hearing? By the gods! I posed questions to the class and they gave answers to them. Would you believe it? I taught the master theorem for complexity, and yes, indeed, they copied what I said, but before they tried to understand... Even more unusual: results seemed useful to my students! It is incredible, but those guys are making my day. It is not going too far if I add that, pin back your ears, we covered Floyd-Rivest's linear-time algorithm for the median! That was including its complexity analysis. Astonishing, isn't it? Afterwards, we solved the problems from assignment #1. I just wonder how we will solve them. As a matter of course, it'll be through debates among students. Little by little, and believe me when I say it wasn't without effort, correct solutions came out. I am amazed. Surprinsingly enough, they are not shiftless students. They like participating and don't mind getting their brains in gear.
What would you think was my final remark? "Here I finish this review of algorithms and complexity." To my surprise, they ironically grinned from ear to ear. "It isn't a review, almost all of the material was unfamiliar to us"-a student whispers-. But what on earth do students learn when taking those big courses on algorithms and complexity?-I wonder, get amazed, get dumbfound, finally, let off steam.
October-21st-08. Suckfarm! Time to go to ma (G-)String Patter Recognition class. Todaily it's turn to intro patters... yanno... Definotions, algos, anal-lysis and all that jazz. Last day I stuffed 'em with piles of poblems, ya-huh, for 'em to get hands-on, shablamo, of course, sucktacular, I have to whip studentia into shape. Lets see: "Mister Granuja Malo, to da goddamned blackboard, if you got it, flaunt it, bloody hell..." OK, here we go, yes, that kicks can, catch that epsilon, harsh. S'all good. Next: "Miss Crisma Ritintan, to da blackboard too, crack that tough nut, watch out, you're losing it with the condition on c..."
Yeah, s'all gooood, let's switch to those patters, they're breaking my balls and the like. Definotions to start off: patter, text, prefixes, suffixes and all that be needed. This is nacessary, guys. Come on, a Lemma to be proved, move your neutrons as you move your jaws... And now it comes the brute force algorithm, YOUR algorithm! (here moronic giggling of the teacher or whoever that bald dork is). "Ha, ha, I just gleeked over ma students." I fleshed out the probabilistic anal-lysis of an algo... Jeez, look at that! It turns out to be linear for ransom patters and texts... Holy cow, you have to hear that. Suckadelic.
The breeze fair aft, all sails on high,
"Sail on, my swift one! nothing fear;
"There blindly professors fierce wars maintain,
"Look when a mediocre student our signals ring,
"I am condemned to die! -- I laugh;
"My music is the Northwind's roar;
Adapted and re-elaborated from a translation by James Kennedy (see here)