well, did we, okay did we determine that Moebius maps were like isometries or whatever?

From the Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English, a 16,000 word transcript of an undergraduate math study session.  In case you ever wanted to know what it really sounds like when students work on our homework.

S1: what if- what if A plus B, equals two times Y and C plus D equals two? [S3: yeah. ] it just has to be proportional so you can’t break it up… but if we have A and C being whatever, then let’s make them something that works.

S2: like one?

S1: let’s… like what if you made, A equal Z and C equal one or something.

S2: but they can’t equal whatever because in the bottom A over C has to equal Z.

S1: i know. [S2: okay ] you make it so that it works.

S2: so you want A to be equal to Z, and C to be equal to one.

S1: okay, so what if we do that…? well no then that gives us uh, Z in the Y equation. unless B equals like Y minus Z or something well it could be done… it’s gonna get complicated though… so if A equals Z,

S2: i think this sucks.


S1: and C equals one… then you’ve got, Z equals B over

<PAUSE:11>

S2: so you gonna watch the M-S-U game tonight?

S1: yep, i’m gonna watch the Ohio State game, the M-S-U game and the Michigan hockey games on TV also, it’s a big night.

S2: who’s M-S-U playing?

S1: uh, they play Duke.

S2: what’re you gonna do tonight Herb?

S3: i don’t know. <S2: LAUGH> i hadn’t planned any plans. John’s friends are having a party, but i don’t wanna go so, i guess i’m not gonna go.

S2: mm, no party… i’m gonna go to the mall.

S3: that sounds like a good idea. i think i’m gonna sleep. mm yeah

S2: and i’m gonna go to Meijer. we are like out of food we feel like Old Mother Hubbard, Heather and i do because we go to the cupboard and like, we have some stuff, but we’re missing, one ingredient out of everything we could make, so yesterday we were trying to think of what we want to make for dinner and we were like well we could have pizza subs but we don’t have any sub rolls. and we could have

S3: how about infervising, improvising?

S2: that would be scary.

S3: or else you’d have like that pizza sauce and you take off the pizza sauce lid and there’s nice moldy stuff on the top

S2: did i tell you i did that?

S3: yes <S2: LAUGH>

S2: thanks. <S3: LAUGH>

S3: i just thought everybody should know.

S2: <LAUGH> oh. that sucked. [S3: now they do ] i’m like oh this is moldy, mm, yum.

S3: that was, pretty good.

S2: yeah. but we’re missing something out of every dish we could’ve made bacon and cheese sandwiches but we didn’t have any cheese. and we could’ve made taco seasoning, taco sauce, tacos but we didn’t have any taco seasoning. so it was like alright whatever we need to go to Meijer… alright, yeah let’s look in the book

<PAUSE:21>

S1: can we, show that, can we show that there is a… would it work to show that there is a- like a hyperbolic isometry? or does that not work cuz we’re in R-hat?

S2: i think it would still work. cuz if there is, a Moebius transformation that’s automatically a hyperbolic isometry. how do you think Natasha learned to say Moebius like that?

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3 thoughts on “well, did we, okay did we determine that Moebius maps were like isometries or whatever?

  1. harrison says:

    In my experience, there’s generally more swearing (though maybe that’s the tape, or maybe they’re just from a different background), but apart from that, yeah, that’s about right.

  2. Willie Wong says:

    Oh yes! That’s what’s missing, the swearing. I knew something was odd when I read that transcript. Now that I think about it, though, I think I cursed a lot more on physics problem sets than on maths ones. And I silently cursed even more when I sat in on the Frist tutoring sessions for maths.

    Also, I am really curious now how Natasha pronounces Moebius. With the proper German ø? Or with the long “eee” that I sometimes hear and makes me cringe?

  3. Jason Starr says:

    I spend an hour each week at my university’s math tutoring center. The students above sound more coherent than most of the students I tutor. In fact they sound more coherent than I often do when I am trying to solve a problem with one of my colleagues.

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