Tuesday, November 01, 2011

after & before: part one.

so i gave another talk today, this time in my department.  the topic was the same .. regarding differentiability in a certain class of metric spaces.

originally i wrote down some thoughts while writing the talk, but right now it seems more natural to talk about how it went.

the good news is that it was well-received:
all signs point to that, at any rate.

the bad news is that it didn't go the way that i wanted.  something didn't feel right when i was talking, and i'm almost sure that i went too fast.  there were enough clues, i think, as to pick up the basic trail of the argument ..

.. but, admittedly, i was often looking at my watch, seeing if there was still enough time.

so: i prepared too much.
it actually reminds me of a film called wonder boys [1] ..
[link to imdb entry]
the basic premise is that the main character, a literature prof, cannot finish the book that he's writing: the pages number in the thousands.  at one point, one of his students reads the draft without his permission, gives her critique.  the message is essentially this:

good writing is about making choices.  this thing .. it doesn't look like you made any choices.  you follow every lead, the tangent of every story of every character ..
the fault of the talk is that i made a similar mistake.  what i had in mind was (essentially) a complete discussion, but even in 2-hour finnish style seminars, there still isn't sufficient time.

put otherwise, it's not that i didn't have enough time;
rather, the talk just wasn't well-organised, the message not appropriately succinct [2].

epilogue. afterwards, a few people came and asked a few questions.

the striking thing is that, despite the metric space setting of the discussion, i was asked instead about Lie groups, as well as Riemannian manifolds ..!

sometimes i wonder whether metric spaces are really a good field of analysis in which to work.  maybe i should concentrate on more familiar settings .. if anything, i might be able to communicate with more mathematicians ..


[1] interestingly enough, it's set in pittsburgh.  the story is modest, but it's told well.

[2] "i didn't have time to write you a short letter, so i wrote a long one instead .." ~ mark twain.

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