Short Updates 6

Hello all,

Sorry for the long break; it’s not a “hiatus” at all.

Updates:

1. My first book is out! The title is Basics of Math Olympiad: Problem Solving Guide for High School Students; Vol 1: Number Theory. The publisher is ArdentEdu and the cover design is by Fazdlee (thanks!). We had a soft launch during the Olimpiad Matematik Kebangsaan 2009, which was held on 20 June at several venues around the country. We managed to sell some copies on that day, but the order forms are coming in daily!

http://fazdleeisa.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/ardent-edu-first-published-book/

The best thing about publishing this book on my own (i.e. getting ArdentEdu to publish it rather than some well-known publisher) is that I have complete editorial, creative, and cost control over the book. Also, we do not have to spend a lot on distribution since we are not planning to sell the books in bookstores but rather directly to schools.

Currently I am working on Volume 2, 3, and 4 of the series. For inquiries and orders, write to info@ardentedu.com.

(Note: It would be much better to support my writing effort by buying a copy rather than asking me for a free copy🙂 Even my sister insisted on paying when I gave her a complimentary copy.)

2. I am extremely anxious about our International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) team, which is supposed to participate in IMO 2009 in Bremen, Germany this July. As many of you probably know, I was appointed by the Ministry of Education as the Malaysian team leader to this year’s IMO, and I have been preparing the team since last year. We heard some rumors that the Ministry is freezing overseas travel and is not sending any contingents to international conferences/competitions, due to the Influenza A(H1N1) scare. The physics olympiad team, for instance, is not going to the International Physics Olympiad 2009 in Mexico

I will be deeply disappointed if the IMO 2009 team is not going. First, there’s the effort made. I (and the other trainers) had spent many hours and given much effort training the team, and it would mostly be for nothing, since 3 of the team members will pass the age requirement for IMO 2010 and this is their last chance to represent the country. Second, I believe this is the strongest team we’ve ever had in years, and to be honest, I do not think we could line up a stronger team in the next few years. Third, it would be heartbreaking for the students, who had spent the last one year competing for a place and preparing for the big competition, only to be denied the opportunity just because of an irrational panic.

I understand the risks. I canceled a trip to Melbourne earlier this month, when I read about Victoria being the “flu capital” and about people traveling from Melbourne bringing the virus back home. But Bremen, Germany is not Melbourne, Australia. I think for the country the size of Germany to have fewer reported cases than Malaysia, means that our trip there will be at most a minor risk.

Let’s hope for the best.

3. Went to Terengganu after an absence of more than 6 months. One thing I have to commend the state government for, is that they did pay us every single cent as stipulated in the contract, for the goods sold and services rendered by our company (although with a bit of delay). I heard a few nightmare stories about contractors who did work in a state which changed government from BN to PR, who were not being paid even after projects have commenced. Reason given is that federal money is not coming in anymore.

Terengganu is a BN to BN state, but it was not a smooth transition between Tok Derih and Tok Mat Said, so it might as well be a change of government. Kudos to the government agencies for putting politics aside and paying the contractors as stipulated. (lambat sikit pun, tapi paid in full, dah kira bersyukur lah…). Sanctity of contract should be held paramount to attract foreign investments — in case of Terengganu, to pull in investments from other states as well.

3 Responses to Short Updates 6

  1. Chang Yang says:

    Congrats for the book Suhaimi!🙂

    Anyway the flu fear is irrational. I am a medical student in Melbourne and no one in the hospital is too concerned about the flu at the moment. At this stage the severity and the virulence of the swine flu is no worse from the garden variety flus, and the mortality outside Mexico is mostly in people who have pre-existing illness.

    I wish all the best to our IMO team.🙂 And how I wish I could redo the whole thing without being so slack… the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I dawdled it away.😦

  2. Chang Yang says:

    Congrats for the book Suhaimi!🙂

    Anyway the flu fear is irrational. I am a medical student in Melbourne and no one in the hospital is too concerned about the flu at the moment. At this stage the severity and the virulence of the swine flu is no worse from the garden variety flus, and the mortality outside Mexico is mostly in people who have pre-existing illness.

    I wish all the best to our IMO team.🙂 And how I wish I could redo the whole thing without being so slack… the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I dawdled it away.😦

  3. suhaimiramly says:

    Hello Chang Yang,

    Now here is someone who knows exactly what I’m talking about, a former IMO contestant who is a med student, in Melbourne no less.

    It’s definitely irrational. The fatality rate is very low (what is it, 1 in 200? i’m sure the actual figure is much lower given the number of unconfirmed cases). And most who died have preexisting medical conditions, as you said. If a healthy person caught the flu, then it will be no different than regular demam: she only needs to take medication for the symptoms (fever, ache) and the flu will go away on its own. Of course you know this better than I do.

    About the IMO — I think our performance back then, as well as now, is a function of training and support. It was quite hard to perform well back then, given the limited amount of training and expertise that we had. I am not knocking on anyone — we did the best we can given the circumstances. But our best is not good enough.

    Currently, the IMO training is more organized and the selection more inclusive. We loan out several textbooks to every student in the IMO camp, which helped a lot in solidifying their knowledge base. The number of training days are significantly increased from what we were used to. The students have to write a total of 20 IMO length papers (4.5 hours for 3 problems) before sitting for the IMO.

    The training is also more substantial, focusing on theoretical competency, rather than rehashing common tricks. You have Malaysian students now solving Olympiad problems using van der Waarden’s theorem, quadratic reciprocity, primitive roots, geometric inversion — techniques which were unknown to the late 90s, early 00s Olympians (a set of which we were members).

    By the way, I had postponed my Melbourne trip to November. I’ll catch up with you if you are still around.

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