Friday, May 17, 2013

in maths, you still have to interact with people.

initial post: evening of 12 may 2013 (during a colleague's weekend visit)

i really don't know how to be a host. i don't know if it's an issue of age or of personality. all i know is that dealing with people just doesn't come naturally to me.

added: today, after a meeting with another colleague.

some things don't change with age: i still don't feel like i know what i'm doing in this business. if there's any difference from then and now, it's because i've simply become more comfortable with not knowing. [1]

constantly i feel unprepared before entering into research meetings, only to slide quickly into a comfortable pace when the discussion really gets going. [2]

it didn't used to be this way;
to be fair, i have more meetings now than i used to have ..

.. but i'm still not as prepared as i'd like to be. meetings are a kind of synchronisation, i suppose: the key is to find an area of common expertise that is mutually interesting.

on a related note, today's meeting went pretty well. ( apparently i still remember what a sοbolev space is.)

[1] that statement isn't entirely fair. more precisely, i've learned plenty of facts and proven a few lemmas in the last few years, but i still don't know the things that i want to know about many subjects. i should also point out .. like anyone else who stays long enough in this business .. that my interests are changing. four years ago i was concentrating on elliptιc ρde, and in the last year or two i've been focusing on gmτ instead. the last month, though, has felt schizophrenic: i've swayed from fracτals to tangeηt measυres and even to harmοnic mappings of the plane.

at any rate, nobody seems to believe me when i say that "i don't know what i'm doing." it even makes me wonder if my younger, ph.d. student self would understand.

[2] there's one more aspect to keep in mind: i live in finland, but the working language is english. so when i'm discussing maths with colleagues, they might not be thinking in their native language. i've been wondering to what extent that gives me a cognitive speedup (read: an unfair "advantage").

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