Thursday, October 06, 2011

on why some bibliography styles are easier on me .. even obscenely so.

this is probably an issue of the (mathematically) young [1], but the bibliography is a crucial part of many papers that i pick up and browse.
in fact, most of the time i realise that i shouldn't be reading that very paper .. but instead, the earlier papers that the author(s) cite.
as a general principle: the first paper in a topic contains the purest form of the main, recurring idea.  it may not be executed in the most efficient, general, or powerful way possible, but that's not the point:
the point is to understand how it works first,
and then to see what you can do with it ..
that said, it's very helpful for me to identify right away, in the text of the paper, which of the references contains the lemma that i just read.  it's a recurring annoyance for me to remember which paper is marked [11], and usually it means flipping/scrolling to the last page and matching up the citation number to the author/article.

it affords me more ease of thought to read [Gro96] instead and immediately remember:  

right! Gromov's gruebleen book.

on the other hand, this can cause a few .. quirks.
if you use BibTeX with the alpha style, then for single-author papers it uses the first three letters of the author's name as an identifier.

so Gromov's Metric Structures for Riemannian and Non-Riemannian spaces is [Gro96], and Cheeger's 1999 GAFA paper is [Che99].

it's an unfortunate case of typesetting, though, when i'm citing Patrice Assouad's paper, regarding embeddings of doubling spaces ..
.. so does anyone know how to fix the standard BibTeX display formatting? (-:

[1] one way to test if you're still "young" is how often you agree that a particular argument is "standard." as for myself, i still have a lot of reading .. and learning, to do.

No comments: