Thursday, January 31, 2013

(-:

 (as found off a reddit post)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

.. in which feeling "smart" is overrated.

it's a very paradoxical experience: after 7+ days of trying to solve a problem,
the first thought isn't:
wow! look how smart i am;

ye gods, how stupid could i have possibly been, not to have seen it?
[sighs]

on a related note, today was a good, productive morning. sometimes it's worth it .. feeling stupid for a little while, i mean. (-:

Monday, January 28, 2013

(research) article post: a bit of news.

huh. time flies, doesn't it?

 ~from "on the dimension of a certain measure in the plane" by m. aκman.

that said, give 'em hell, john;
happy birthday, too. (-;

MoAR: a few applied gems, and a teaser.

last week was busy, for a number of reasons, all of which involved humans:
meeting up with friends,
colleagues (new and old) coming to visit,
even an ex-girlfriend showing up to town.
so i felt very managerial for most of the week, and as a result, got very little done. every time i was intent on finishing up a $\LaTeX$ writeup, there seemed to be another meeting or appointment to take.

that said, this week's roundup is pretty bare. there are only 3 articles instead of a maximum of 5, and i've made no comments about them. then again, the summaries seem to speak for themselves ..

a hidden biological invariant?

"Life is short for small creatures, longer in big ones. So algae die sooner than oak trees; elephants live longer than mayflies, but you know that. Here's the surprise: There is a mathematical formula which says if you tell me how big something is, I can tell you — with some variation, but not a lot — how long it will live. This doesn't apply to individuals, only to groups, to species. The formula is a simple quarter-power exercise: You take the mass of a plant or an animal, and its metabolic rate is equal to its mass taken to the three-fourths power."

algorithm as flow.

"You are watching an optimisation algorithm come up with the best design completely automatically.The outcome is greatest stiffness shape possible for a given amount of material. And amazingly it’s a nuanced truss that isn’t far removed from the look of most motorway bridges. That’s pretty reassuring, actually.

The engineering-y name for this process is ‘topology optimisation’ - essentially making the best use of shape for structures. It’s been the aim of structural engineers since their existence and evolutionary algorithms are a modern development to help this.
"

a teaser, for a forthcoming lecture series.

"Markov was abrasive, confrontational, and iconoclastic, “Andrew the Furious,” one contemporary called him. "
~ from "an idea that changed the world" @news/harvard

Thursday, January 24, 2013

in medias res: sudden realisations.

so today i attended two seminars, and a similar moment occurred in each:

the speaker would eventually get to issues of regularity theory, i'd turn a bit to see others' reactions, and only see nods.
wow: these are my people.
i'm no expert at this stuff, but we all really have similar skill-sets
.
this is going to be something i'll miss: after leaving finland and joining another department where analysis isn't too dominant, it's slightly harder to develop a comraderie with colleagues. less in common, you know?

in mathematics it's rare to be understood, so i appreciate it whenever possible.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

for an interview, you have to have a well-defined self.

since the job season is in full swing ..
// initially written: late february 2012

nobody has told me this outright, but i'm not particularly good at interviewing.  the problem, i suppose, is that it is a very specific, stylised skill and that i've done very little of it in my life.

interviewing is different from most forms of conversation that i know.  there's always an agenda, for one thing, and you are clearly under scrutiny.  the whole meeting is meant to evaluate you as a potential future employee and colleague ..

.. among other candidates, on top of that!
i guess it's like dating, but institutionalised and with less emotional baggage.

[winces]
like dating?

it would explain why i'm not skilled at it, then .. (-:
i don't mind talking about maths: that's generally fun.  i don't mind debating what works in teaching, what doesn't, and what's not clear.  it's an issue that matters and i think about it often ..

.. but make it about me, and then i start to cringe.

so, yes: i wrote this last year, right after

Monday, January 21, 2013

MoAR: the mathematician's workload -- deconstructed, augmented, and shrunk.

forget the middlemen: DIY publishing.

and now for something that a(nother) mathematician has written, which is actually relevant to other working mathematicians:
One possibility being discussed, which I am very much in favour of, is each accepted article having not just a link to the arXiv but also a web page for (non-anonymous) comments and reviews. For example, the editor who accepts an article might wish to write a paragraph or two about why the article is interesting, a reader who spots a minor error might write explaining the error and how it can be fixed (if it can), and an expert in the area might write a review that could be very useful to hiring committees.

This may even go further, with comment pages being set up for other preprints and journal articles — not just the ones that have appeared in epijournals.

~ from "why i've also joined the good guys" @timgowers
this sounds really cool. to me, a well-written article should have an introduction which outlines why the article is important; then again, if the article will appear in a rather specialised journal, then "why" and "important" suddenly become very relative words.

so it will be a fine thing for the possibility of having others give an exposition, thereby giving me my versions of "why" and "important" ..!

however, this is part of a larger story. the earlier elsevιer boycotts seem to have coalesced into some potentially real changes, including mathematicians doing their own publishing:
Many mathematicians — and researchers in other fields — claim that they already do most of the work involved in publishing their research. At no cost, they type up and format their own papers, post them to online servers, join journal editorial boards and review the work of their peers. By creating journals that publish links to peer-reviewed work on servers such as arXiv, Demailly says, the community could run its own publishing system. The extra expense involved would be the cost of maintaining websites and computer equipment, he says.

~ from "Mathematicians aim to take publishers out of publishing" @nature
ideally, this would also be really cool. i worry, though, at the idea of importing more responsibility of journals to mathematicians.

we academicians already have a lot of administrative responsibilities -- see the below for more about this -- and for a concrete example, think of how long it takes for a submitted article to be refereed. it's not clear to me whether the bottleneck comes from the journal staff not being efficient or that referees (which are mathematicians) simply don't read the submission until it's been a year and they suddenly feel guilty about it.

so unless they make significant changes to the academic journal model, i only expect that these new open-access journals will have even longer backlogs and delays.

speaking of journals ..

partially-open.

i suppose that this is good news.
The Register & Read program will now allow individuals to register for the service, but members will only be able to read three items every two weeks. Users won't be able to see JSTOR's whole library either: free accounts will only have access to 1,200 journals from 700 publishers. In exchanges for free access, users will have to enter their personal details at signup that will be shared with JSTOR along with its partners, giving them insight as to who’s reading specific material.
based on how long it takes me to go through a paper, even partially, i'd say that three articles per fortnight is a reasonable quota ..

.. but for the record: JSTΟR may lately be feeling generous, but it won't bring aaron back. as far as i'm concerned, they still have some blood on their hands.

professors as paper-pushers.

in some sense, the same historical changes from labor-saving devices are now manifest on university campuses: when it's no longer cost-effective to have hired help, then we end up shouldering more work than before.
My own knowledge comes from universities, both in the United States and Britain. In both countries, the last thirty years have seen a veritable explosion of the proportion of working hours spent on administrative tasks at the expense of pretty much everything else. In my own university, for instance, we have more administrators than faculty members, and the faculty members, too, are expected to spend at least as much time on administration as on teaching and research combined. The same is true, more or less, at universities worldwide..

~ from "of flying cars and the declining rate of profit" @thebaffler

not everyone shares this viewpoint, though ..

we mathematicians dream for a living.

so i just read this excerpt from the guardian and this paraphrased quote struck me as apt ..
"You need to let mathematicians do what they do," he replied, and quoted the example of Cambridge professor and number theorist G.H. Hardy, who in 1940 famously declared that his subject had no practical applications. Mathematicians have, in fact, been very successful in finding applications for apparently useless theorems - maths, for instance, is now the base for much internet security. "It is unreasonable that mathematicians should be so successful in this," Wright said. "You really, genuinely never know what is going to work." .
~ from "the science of fun" @the_guardian
i would take it a little farther. you see ..

.. if mathematics is the language of science, then it is also the imagination of science; it is what the genres of science fiction and fantasy are to reality (but in a more rigorous manner). we mathematicians have the freedom to create worlds that do not yet exist, to the benefit of those who require worlds that must necessarily be.

for without gauss and riemann, there would have been no einstein.

chemists, physicists, biologists, and economists must bow as subjects to reality. we mathematicians are under no such dominion. what we dream may become the realities of tomorrow .. not all, but some, and to shape the future, some is enough.

so yes, we are dreamers of a kind. we also make sound your computations, and show you how to compute your chances. without us, your measurements would be meaningless.

videos as permanent substitute lecturers?

at any rate, it's begun: universities don't need professors, they need instructors. in fact, they don't need instructors; they only need videos.
Fed up, Gov. Jerry Brown has given his blessing to popular online course platform, Udacity, to partner with San Jose State University for the ultra-low cost online lower-division and remedial classes. The tiny pilot of algebra and statistics courses will be limited to just 300 students, half from SJSU and half from high schools and community colleges.

~ from "How California’s Online Education Pilot Will End College As We Know It" @techcrunch
i suppose it makes sense .. for if faculty are becoming administrators, then someone or something has to teach the students, right? 7-:

Friday, January 18, 2013

... (UPDATED)

originally posted: 4:13EST, 18 jan 2013

you'd think i'd have learned this lesson by now:

never do more than one thing at a time!

here, "at a time" also includes a time period as long as the same day morning or afternoon*. i'm considering extending the definition to include the same day*/week, too.

more on this .. but later, not now;
the sun is shining and there's work left to accomplish ..!

to explain, on friday afternoons (like yesterday) i occasionally attend a research seminar at a different but nearby university. from my campus to there, the bus trip takes about 40 minutes and buses come regularly at 20 minute intervals.

the seminar is 2 hours long and ends at 16:00. allowing time for lunch, it usually means that i write off those afternoons. so if i want to be productive at all on those fridays, then it means that the morning becomes a rather crucial worktime ..

.. and yesterday morning didn't go so well, that's all. between emails and small errands and the like, i just lost my chance to be productive. i hate it when that happens ..

i'm starting to consider forming lists of tasks that only take 1 hour to complete, like read and take notes on the proof of this one lemma from a particular article or fix all the notation from this one section of this manuscript. a list like that would be really handy because otherwise, all of those hour-long blocks of time in my schedule would be wasted ..
.. that is, "wasted" in that i start a process that takes two or more hours, like re-work the proof of a technical lemma. from experience, i rarely have the luck that it requires just an easy fix [1].

the trouble with that kind of task is that it requires 10-15 minutes even to get into the flow of the project again, such as remembering how the lemma is used (and therefore which hypotheses can be relaxed, which ones not). even if you make a lot of progress and get the right ideas, then you still have to execute the idea.

often that involves $\LaTeX$, which always takes a lot more time than you think. there have been too many times when i knew what to do at that moment and started LaTeX'ing, only to be interrupted soon after for a seminar or class. in doing so, i'd lose that "runtime memory" that i had collected over that earlier work-hour .. so my old $\LaTeX$ becomes indecipherable crap and i'd have to start over.
so again: a list like that would be really useful. the problem is that maintaining that kind of list sounds like more trouble than its reward is worth.

i don't know. maybe i should try it anyway.

[1] more precisely, sometimes it is an easy fix, but you have to go through the whole argument to be sure that it will actually fix the problem (and not cause any further complications).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

works and days: crazy, but is it crazy enough?

// originally written: sunday, 6 january 2013

personality must play a significant role in being a mathematician, or any other kind of writer, artisan, or quantitative researcher. in particular, i'm starting to believe that you have to be a little crazy for this job .. which is to say:

crazy (or masochistic) enough to accept regular doses of frustration,
in exchange for potential results in the long run.

here the word potential is key, otherwise i would simply be describing patience of a technical or professional nature.

there is the very real possibility, however, that i still don't know how to do research at all.
maybe i don't know what i'm doing well enough so that i can roughly predict the outcomes. some of my more senior colleagues are apt in saying things like ..

"this should follow" / "something like this should be true"

.. with appropriate care in their choice of words, of course: should.

i've still not had the comfortable confidence to say the same. then again, it could be just a matter of personality and maybe i'm just risk-averse [1] about these things.
i keep thinking about how glad i am not to have a ph.d. student right now. at some point, though, i might start becoming part of the minority, amongst my colleagues. a few of them have already been picking up their own students ..

.. which is fine; it is i, not they, who would make a terrible advisor.

[1] .. which is a little inconsistent. you see, i'm fond of mountain climbing; heights bother me sometimes, but staring down at a 100m+ drop doesn't seem so bad, as long as the rope is in good shape and securely anchored.

Monday, January 14, 2013

MoAR: political/legal pathologies, advice from unexpected sources, a confusing statement, and educational initial conditions..

as inspired by its current internet usage, MoAR is my new acronym for Monday Article Roundup.

also: last time i said that i'd stick to at most 5 articles .. and already i've gone back on my word. however, there are only four main themes which loosely tie these bits of news together. besides, if you're reading this on a monday, then you probably wouldn't mind some sources of procrastination, right? (-;

what kind of person would you identify as:
charming, focused, fearless, and highly active?

i've occasionally wondered whether psychopaths would make good mathematicians. apart from a certain amount of ruthlessness, this kind of goal-driven behavior tends to do well in academia.
Mental toughness and fearlessness often go hand in hand. Of course, to many of us lesser mortals, fearlessness may seem quite foreign. But Leslie explains the rationale behind this state—and how he maintains it. “The thing about fear, or the way I understand fear, I suppose—because, to be honest, I don't think I've ever really felt it—is that most of the time it's completely unwarranted anyway. What is it they say? Ninety-nine percent of the things people worry about never happen. So what's the point?

~ from "Wisdom from Psychopaths?" @sciam_mind
ok .. so maybe they'd make good statisticians instead. (-;

pathologies of a less academic nature

when teaching that "introduction to proofs" class, two years ago, i did my best to give short, clear examples and/or non-examples whenever possible, like how T9 fail is an example of the pigeοnhole principle or showing them Russell's paradox to indicate that not everything can be a set.

short is a key word here, though.

it wouldn't do to spend more than half a class on one, if only because there was always too much material to cover [1] and taking that much more time for one part of one lesson just wouldn't fit the logistics of the course.

thus, good counter-examples and pathologies can be tricky to construct .. but here, oddly enough, are some real world examples .. and i mean real world ..!
By Frieman's estimation, if corporations are indeed persons as was first established in the 1886 Supreme Court case Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Co., and he offered evidence that a corporation was traveling inside his vehicle - riding shotgun, of course - then two people were in his car.

Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling .. -- ✂ -- -- Lawmakers are still positioning themselves for a debt ceiling fight in a few months, but one Republican congressman wants to snuff out a particular idea immediately: the U.S. Treasury minting$1 trillion platinum coins to avert a debt ceiling showdown. Rep. Greg Waldεn (R-Ore.) has introduced a bill to specifically ban President Baracκ Οbama from minting the coins.

But Watson couldn't distinguish between polite language and profanity -- which the Urban Dictionary is full of. Watson picked up some bad habits from reading Wikipedia as well. In tests it even used the word "bullshιt" in an answer to a researcher's query.

um, which way? (insufficient data)

i was rather confused at this quote because (A) usually i don't see explicit calculus terminology in the news and (B) in which way is the concavity changing?
"It's pretty clear that pricing power of colleges has reached an inflection point," said John Nelson, a managing director at Moody's who oversaw the survey team.
sure, colleges have been able to raise tuition with impunity, for as long as i can remember .. but monotonic behavior only uses the first derivative, not the second.

i take it that the quoted director means a decrease in the second derivative; given the "dire warning" mentality of the times, i don't think he means that tuition is increasing at a now-increasing rate .. unless he's a real cynic at heart! q-:

in the classroom: boys ≤ girls?

i had to re-read this article, if only to make sure i wasn't interpreting its conclusions with too much of my own biases. (this is probably futile, of course, but issues of gender are hard to keep objective.)

also, keep in mind that this article focuses on elementary school education (where children's ages typically range from 5-11).
"The skill that matters the most in regards to how teachers graded their students is what we refer to as ‘approaches toward learning,'" said Christopher Cornwell, head of economics in the UGA Terry College of Business and one of the study's authors. "You can think of ‘approaches to learning' as a rough measure of what a child's attitude toward school is: It includes six items that rate the child's attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility[,] and organization. I think that anybody who's a parent of boys and girls can tell you that girls are more of all of that."

-- ✂ -- --

The data show, for the first time, that gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls. In every subject area, boys are represented in grade distributions below where their test scores would predict.

the elementary school curriculum and routine has probably changed a lot since i was a kid. for one thing, i don't remember having very many tests other than spelling quizzes and short math quizzes, and those were hardly standardised.

standardised test scores are easy to compare, which means that all of statistics can be cast upon them. (that's why the tests are standardised, after all.) however, to what extent is the data time-dependent? if their presence in elementary school education is new, say in the last 5 years, then can we really guarantee that these statistical findings are as valid as we think?

it'd be different if the testing data and the implemented grading policies
were kept over a longer period, like 30 years. the article doesn't say.

our values change over time, too. sitting still and paying attention in class has always been viewed as a favorable trait in students; however, those traits are hard to cultivate when students aren't given much (if any) time for recess.

i don't know. i don't think anyone knows the answers .. at least, the kinds of answers that parents and educators and policy-makers want. the one unambiguous opinion i have, though, is that i'm tired of seeing simple 1-D correlations. the world is a complicated place with a lot of complicated features to it, so why would any one phenomenon depend on only one parameter?

[1] now that i think about it, i should have asked my TA at the time to present them during problem sessions. on the other hand, it wasn't clear to me that he was actually doing what i already asked him to do, anyway ..

Friday, January 11, 2013

in which the arχiv resembles cable tv channels ..

the diagram from this article reminds me of documentaries from animal planet (on the discovery channel)

.. and the title of this paper is suggestive of tv land.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

idle thoughts, during work.

// originally written: 9 jan 2013.

despite all my talk of wanting more work-time during the holidays [1], somehow i still feel in "holiday mode" and it's hard to concentrate for a full workday.

it's not like i have a shortage of things to do either, and most of these tasks are things that i really do want to sink my teeth into and finish off. somehow, though, i feel like i just don't have the energy to do so.

is it strange to make a distinction between tubes and cylinders?

somehow i can imagine a tube to be unbounded (like a neighborhood of a line) whereas a cylinder is necessarily bounded (as the formula for its volume, taught in school, requires a radius and a height).

opinions?

as a change of pace, i decided to use the chalkboard even though it wasn't necessary to do so [2]. this improved matters. for one thing, i was standing while working and my lower back felt better. then there are the aesthetic parts:
the tap-tap of chalk striking slate has a primordial element. we take minerals and press them to form roughly-shaped symbols of meaning, like early humans painting out animal spirits in caves.

there's also something soothing about how easily one can erase on a chalkboard, like waves sweeping clean the sandy shores of beaches .. but more deliberately so.

.. the sea erases, so the sea forgives ..
working out details on scratch paper is different. for some reason i can't allow myself to be a complete blockhead while writing on actual paper. i can't get over the suggestion of paper being something that should preserve information of any kind, and that my efforts will not be forgotten.

whereas on the chalkboard, i feel free to write the most inane things (if only as intermediate steps to better and better ideas).

[1] visiting family shouldn't be considered a vacation/holiday by default. to be honest, these kinds of visits cause me more stress than anything else ..

[2] come to think of it, is there ever a time when using a chalkboard is actually necessary?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

a suggestive notation!

being unable to think of anything else that fits, once again i used the capital Greek letter $\Xi$ .. but today, it's to denote slices of sets in Euclidean spaces.

here's my rhetorick:
• the symbol is essentially three horizontal lines, which look like slices;
• its pronunciation, a /zaɪ/ sound as in "zion", is in keeping with how i would pronounce "slice" ..!
on a related note, one of my colleagues is originally from greece. every time he gives a talk, i pay a lot of attention to his handwriting ..

.. for it's not every day that you get to see a greek actually writing greek!

Monday, January 07, 2013

monday article roundup: among other things (A) absolute zero isn't absolute, and (B) check when maths is bogus or not.

so i read a lot of internet news, as you can tell from the sidebar of links, on the right-hand side of this webpage. some of the articles are worth sharing, especially for those of you who find this blog entertaining [1].

the thing is, i'm starting to collect more and more articles about maths and universities and education and technology and whatnot. (i could swear that reporting about maths is on the rise.) so my new habit will be to collect the top 5 (or fewer) articles over one week and post them on mondays.
(i'll make exceptions for articles that i'll write long opinions about though, such as the online education trend.)
this will probably shrink the number of visitors to this blog. then again, i never planned for it to be popular. in fact, i'm delighted to know that this blog doesn't appear in the first 10 pages when you google me (provided that you know my name, which shouldn't be hard to find out) [2].

temperature, version 2.0

i should have known that temperature wouldn't have such an easy definition as average kinetic energy; apparently it's only true for ideal gases. i guess i've been working with ellιptic and parabοlic ρde for too long, where one typically minimises the Dirichlet energy $$f \mapsto \int_\Omega |\nabla f|^2 \,dx$$ without thinking too hard about whether it fits reality or not.

apparently the modern definition is sufficiently general so that quantum gases can actually achieve lower-than-absolute-zero "temperatures." in other words, there are examples which show that the classical definition is strictly stronger than the modern one.
Here’s the new definition that they came up with. Temperature measures the willingness of an object to give up energy. Actually, I lied. This isn’t how they really define temperature, because physicists speak math, not english. They define it as $\frac{1}{T} = \frac{dS}{dE}$ which says, in words, that the temperature is inversely proportional to the slope of the entropy $S$ vs. energy $E$ curve.

there's more: apparently particle physics exhibits a lot of pathologies:
Could you really have an object that gets colder as you give it energy?

This really happens, when you have a bunch of particles that attract each other. Stars are held together by gravity, and they behave in just this way. As a star loses energy, its temperature rises. Give a star energy, and you’re actually cooling it down. Black holes also behave in this odd way – the more energy you feed them, the bigger they get, and yet, the colder they get.
evidently: to model the temperature of stars and galaxies, don't minimise the previous Dirιchlet integral! (-;

maths sounds hard, impresses people

more and more, i think of mathematics as a language. it's not quite latin, of course; in some cases, however, like latin it has the power to unduly impress the less savvy.
At random, one of the two abstracts received an additional sentence, the one above with the math equation, which he pulled from an unrelated paper in psychology. The study's 200 participants all had master's or doctoral degrees. Those with degrees in math, science or technology rated the abstract with the tacked-on sentence as slightly lower-quality than the other. But participants with degrees in humanities, social science or other fields preferred the one with the bogus math, with some rating it much more highly on a scale of 0 to 100.

lastly, a matter of semantics

i hadn't thought about the difference in meaning, as discussed in the passage below. it is important, however, to note that there is a difference between the notions.
[C]oercion involves the use of (or the threat of) force.

Where I disagree — and where this gets slightly murky — is that I don’t think you need to fully understand something (at least at a conscious level) to be persuaded to act. That assumes persuasion is rational. I think you are persuaded by appeals to the irrational — emotions, psychology, and imagination.

Understanding something (e.g., what smoking does to the human body) largely comes from facts or arguments that appeal to intellect. When I get you to do something based on facts and reason I’m convincing you to act, which is different from persuading you to act.
this is a fine taxonomy and all .. so what would be an overarching term for all three?

induce might work, but it also applies to non-human situations (such as induced reactions in chemistry). in fact, after quickly looking up the word persuade, i'm not convinced [2] that there is a clear indication of irrationality in its definition. maybe i need a new dictionary, but it sounds like to convince simply means to persuade rationally.

so i would find fault with the linear ordering of ..
.. and would prefer a venn diagram or perhaps, in $\LaTeX$ rendering, $${\rm convince} \subsetneq {\rm persuade} \subsetneq {\rm induce} \supsetneq {\rm coerce}$$ $${\rm persuasion} \cap {\rm coercion} = \emptyset$$ lastly, sometimes i wonder if i really convince audiences in my talks to accept these ideas, rather than just persuading them to trust me (and not show them the technical details) ..

[1] sometimes i'm surprised people keep visiting. i mean, it's mostly my complaints about the life of the academic mathematician. i guess the sort of person who would run a search for the right $\LaTeX$ code for that weaκ-star cοnvergence arrow has a pretty good chance as enjoy the same things that i might. q-:

[2] that said, i'd like to keep it that way.

[3] pun intended. (-:

Saturday, January 05, 2013

really? no b.s.?

huh: 2 weeks, no bullshιt, and i'll learn all the maths that i'll ever need?

then again, if the guy is willing to say that ..
I know a lot of peo­ple who say that they ab­solutely hate math be­cause they think, for some rea­son, that they are not good at it. You should con­sider giv­ing math an­other try. Math is not just about al­ge­bra: al­ge­bra is just the bor­ing stuff you do in the end of the prob­lem. The cool stuff is the abstract thinking and mathematical modelling of the real world. That stuff is like su­per­pow­ers, es­pe­cially com­bined with com­puter knowl­edge.
.. then he can't be all bad, right? (-:

Friday, January 04, 2013

neither here nor there ..

some months ago i applied for funding to attend a thematic semester at IPAM. recently, my application was rejected ..
.. which is actually relieving;

i'm getting really tired of crossing the atlantic [1]
and traveling to the west coast (from here) is noticeably painful.
well: their loss, then. q-:

maybe this means that i can stay put and actually get some work done; it's not like i have a lot of time left in finland, anyway ..

[1] on the way to a conference, sometimes i have a small hope that my flight would be canceled and that i can stay home. it's like the old joke about the mathematician, the wife, and the mistress; imagine how much work i could do if my work colleagues thought i was away and the conference participants thought i was at home! (-:

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

i don't think that word means what he thinks it means.

i think he means that "stats is trumping science," not maths .. which is just as dubious of a claim.
"I believe that math is trumping science. What I mean by that is you don't really have to know why, you just have to know that if a and b happen, c will happen."

~ from "why data will never replace thinking" @ HBR.