Who are you…who who, who who.

I wanted to take a sounding of the Ars Mathematica readership, if for no other reason than me being nosy. It seems to me that we have a pretty broad readership (from Ph.D.’s to high school students), but I for one would like to get a better idea of the distribution.

Let me be the first to divulge info.

Walt, Robbie and I all went to grad school at the University of Washington – Robbie does/did Ergodic Theory, I am somewhere in the intersection of algebraic topology, combinatorics and logic, and – as far as I have been able to ascertain – Walt knows everything.

So sound off if you would…

38 thoughts on “Who are you…who who, who who.

  1. Good idea, why is nobody responding?

    So, I got my Ph.D. from the Physics Department of the Moscow University and now teach statistical physics and probability there, although scientifically I am more of a PDE/optimization guy.

  2. I did my undergraduate and masters (equivalent) at Cambridge university, starting out in maths with physics and moving into pure maths due to a complicated series of circumstances. I basically work(ed) in a variety of flavours of analysis, with overtones of operator algebras, topology and set theory.

    I’m now working as a software engineer (having started quite recently), but am trying to keep up my mathematics in my own time. As well as the above stuff I’m trying to broaden my knowledge of combinatorics and ‘hard’ analysis (As opposed to soft analysis rather than easy analysis).

  3. I’m a third-year undergraduate mathematics major at the College of Creative Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. I suppose I want to do number theory in graduate school, but I’m definitely not willing to make a firm statement on that just yet. Right now I’m mainly exploring what there is in math and seeing what is extremely interesting and what is only somewhat interesting. (Very little in math is actually boring.)

  4. I’m a Swedish enginering student studying the first year towards a M.Sc. in Enginering Mathematics. Basicallty its a program in applied mathematics.

  5. I’m a third-year undergraduate mathematics major and an aspiring grad student. (Even with baby steps and all, is that a sane thing to aspire to be?!) I’m in a similar boat as ComplexZeta as I don’t feel I know enough math to say what I’m firmly interested in.

  6. I’m a fourth-year PhD student at UC Berkeley in the Group in Logic and Methodology of Science, focusing in the philosophy of probability, and the philosophy of mathematics.

  7. An undergrad at Stanford is me. I haven’t commented before because it only allows folks who take the time to register an account to do so; this post wil probably miss many of the casual passers-by who might otherwise mention that they stop here occasionally (as I do; I registered just to point this out). Which is to say, taking this poll is only slightly more informative than looking at who has an account.

  8. That delta make all the difference in the world though, since who had an account was information I already had access to.

  9. BA+Part III in Mathematics from Cambridge and a PhD in Riemann surfaces from King’s College, London. Up until the day I started my PhD I expected to work in theoretical physics.

    These days I’m a software engineer working for a well known visual effects company in California (it’s a good field to apply mathematics). I still try to do a little mathematics in my spare time and I’ve recently ventured into what you might call experimental mathematics using Haskell.

  10. I’m a second year undergrad math major at West Virginia University, and I’m presently interested in combinatorics, topology, and matrix theory. I, too, aspire to continue to graduate studies in math, if my non-mathematical classes don’t kill me first.

  11. BA Hons in Pure Math + Math Statistics from ANU (Canberra), and a PhD in CS from Liverpool, UK, a leading centre for agent computing technologies. (Agents are software entities with control over their own execution.) In between, was a management consultant. The common thread in all this is decision-making in complex domains — theory, practice and automation.

  12. PhD in math from Yale 1976 – student of W.S. Massey – algebraic topoplogy – Thesis: Retractions in the stable range. Since then, software developer and modeler of human interaction, thinking, and behavior. The latter interest leading to consulting/coaching on getting desired results from specific individuals and groups. Models at one time were more simplisticlally mathematical but evolved into more generality – more cybernetic in the strict control theory sense. Try, somewhat unsuccessfully, to keep an eye on the development of mathematics since I started doing most of my work elsewhere. Intrigued to find category theory – “generalized abstract nonsense” – has become so useful in theoretical physics!!

  13. I’m another member of the hoard from the University of Washington. (BS from University of Oregon in 1992, Masters from UW in 2000.) I pursued a PhD in differential geometry for more years than I care to admit before calling it quits with academia. I’m now an “IT consultant,” which is business speak for “absurdly overpriced software developer.”

  14. Since I stop by almost every day to read the posts and read many of the papers you all link to (even if I don’t understand them), I’ll respond. However, I’m slightly more curious as to how many readers are women. But here’s the info you want.

    I have an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics. I’m working on a second degree in Experimental Psychology (completion Dec 2006 when my research project is done). The goal is to go on to grad school to do research into mathematical cognition so currently researching institutions. This is more difficult than it sounds. Most research is into number sense/numerosity with a little bit of arithmetic thrown in. Psychologists like most people seem to think that counting and arithmetic is mathematics.

    Within math, I have developed an interest in numbers especially irrationals and transcendentals – how we define them and the various theorems and hypothesis surrounding these numbers. So now I must learn more to better understand the books I’ve collected.

  15. I have undergraduate degrees in math and physics. I am currently a not-so-dirty hippy algebraist pursuing a PhD in algebraic geometry/topology. I am also interested in some applied aspects of dynamical systems.

  16. I finished a 4-year MMath (weird english thing… think undergrad + a first year of grad school) last year, at Oxford in the UK. I’m currently working as a software developer in toronto but thinking of going back into academia at some point. My main interests academically were in the area of mathematical logic and theoretical computer science, but I enjoyed dabbling in various other areas of pure maths too :)

  17. I’m a first year student of mathematics in a swedish university. I’m trying to get used to the university level of study which is very different from the swedish secondary school system.
    I hope that I get my studies sorted out someday and would like to get a career in mathematics.
    My main interests is higher level algebra (abstract) and combinatorics, though currently I’m studying multi-var-calc and linear algebra.

  18. I’m Paul P. Cook, in my third year of my PhD at King’s College, London, with the theoretical physics group. The group resides in the mathematics department and my work is concerned with representations of Kac-Moody algebras, especially those ones which seem to play a role describing the duality groups of M-theory.

    I use the middle P because my Dad is called Peter Cook (not the famous, funny, deceased one) and so I got into the habit of using it to differentiate mail when I used to live at home.

    I’m on the cusp of writing up my thesis and it’s daunting.

  19. I’m at the 3rd year (of a total of 5) of Systems and Computer Science Engineering at the University of Minho in Portugal. I get to program a lot in Haskell and already had the pleasure of studying cata, ana and hylomorphisms (and stuff like that).

    My long-term ambition is to do research on the Foundations of Computer Science (probably in Category Theory or related).

  20. I am yet another former University of Washington person. I am also a woman but I probably don’t count since I am married to Walt.

    The last mathematical thing I did (other then read “Happy Baby 1-2-3″) was graph theory related. That was a year or two ago. Currently I work for what most people would consider a large software company and have no idea what I will do when I grow up. It will probably be in the cognitive science area, whatever I do.

  21. On my side, graduated in maths at the University of Granada (Spain), followed the International Masters Degree courses in Antwerp (Belgium), and I’m tryin’ to find a way of succesfully writting a PhD thesis in Noncommutative Geometry, whatever it turns out to be…
    More concretely, currently I focus on finding suitable algebraic procedures for building (families of) examples of noncommutative spaces from simpler ones.
    If backpacking all around old Europe travelling by train and knowing how to juggle almost every object I can throw up make me so, then yes, I guess I’m an algebraist ;-P

  22. I have a B.Math in both Pure Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, an M.Sc (pure math) from the Universite de Montreal and a PhD (pure math – dynamics and geometry of Julia sets) from the Universite de Paris-Sud (Orsay). In between all those degrees, I always worked as a programmer/software engineer in a bunch of places, doing a wide variety of stuff, until I finally “settled” for about 10 years working for Maplesoft (makers of math software Maple), where I lead their Math Group for a while, before becoming Product Director and Sr. Architect. That was a wonderful mix of applying “pure mathematics”, computer science and software engineering. Then I was “promoted” into mind-numbing stuff, telling me it was time for a change – which is why I am now a Prof. Not a math prof though, I teach both CS and Software Engineering (they are viewed as very different things at McMaster). My research is still very mathematical — I look at how one can “mechanize” mathematics, correctly. Current systems, like Maple and Mathematica, are astoundingly bug-ridden, while “theorem proving” systems (Coq, PVS, Isabelle, etc) cannot do even basic computations in a reasonable amount of time when you can even figure them out at all. Long-term project: write a new system with the best of both worlds! As such, I like to read both Ars Mathematica but also Lambda the Ultimate.

  23. I have an msc in math and currently I’m struggling to finish my phd, all of this somewhere in Central Europe. I am supposed to work at the intersection of algebraic topology, algebraic geometry, representation theory and combinatorics, but I’m way too lazy. I’m also interested in software and physics, although I don’t really understand the latter.

  24. I wish I had the impressive degrees and credentials most people here have, but I’m just a puny senior high school student. I plan to study math at mcgill (in Montreal) beginning next year. So far my only “research” has consisted of solving textbook exercises and implementing well-known algorithms, but I’m loving it. I read ars and a bunch of physics, math and cs blogs because I like to know what’s currently going on in research, even if I don’t understand all (or any ;D) of it.

  25. I have a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. I am actually a freelance mathematician. I have a small (1 man, me!) consulting firm, and I work in seismic exploration and other fields as opportunities arise. My mathematical work consists mostly of designing and implementing numerical methods for everything from wave propagation to image processing.

  26. I have no qualifications in Mathematics other than studying it as part of a Cartography Degree. I visit this site and some other Maths and Physics sites just because I find it interesting. What little time I do have for reading I spend reading History of Mathematics and Popular Science.

    You are all very lucky to be working in such a thoughtful occupation.

  27. I’m not a regular reader, but I stop by from time to time. Undergrad in physics, MLS, currently doctoral student in information studies. I loved the math part, have no idea why I didn’t major in it :) — Back to the cognitive questions — I was just wondering if anyone studied the difference in cognitive effort in using computer mediated communication for math over say, using a blackboard or pencil? I’m also interested to a certain extent in information retrieval in math… I guess I’d better look up Jacqui’s blog … (BTW- I totally agree that counting and arithmetic aren’t math!)

  28. BA in Math from Cornell College 1980 / BS Systems Science & Math from Washington U St. Louis 1980.

    I’ve been a programmer lo these many years, but recently started picking up my old math books on account of some kind of midlife crisis thing or other.

    Also looking into some new fields that I never studied before like Clifford algebras, which totally rock (I like Clifford Algebras as much as this guy:http://modelingnts.la.asu.edu/html/intro.html although not as much as this guy: http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/clfpq.html#whyclif)

  29. I’m a 4th year undergrad at UC Berkeley, majoring in mathematics and computer science. I just applied to mathematics PhD programs … and I’m nervously waiting to hear back from them.

  30. I dodge in from time to time.
    My background, judging from these posts, is unusual: I was a History major at UC Santa Barbara. I became a History teacher in Illinois but, upon returning to California, my services were not needed (too expensive because of my years of experience and, let’s face it, most History teachers teach until they die). I took enough math units (21 less than a year) to qualify me to teach intermediate school mathematics. And there I am still, five years later, teaching Algebra to…reluctant?…eighth graders.

  31. I know it’s a little late but I wanted to say Hi. I’m an amateur mathematician and I think I use the word mathematician very lightly as sometimes it seems like I can barely add, but I am fascinated by most mathematical topics even though I understand very little of what I read. I think it is an attraction to the concepts surrounding infinity that feeds my imagination the most – something mystical about numbers in general. I’m sure most mathematicians blanch at the idea of there being something mystical about numbers and about the connectedness of all maths, but I find myself ruminating on the subject continually. As for my actual background, I have a M.A. in history from Western Washington University and I am currently pursuing certification to be a secondary (high school) history teacher. I will always pursue further knowledge in maths though. And I appreciate this blog. Happy New year everyone !

  32. I recently added this blog into my RSS feeds and liked reading about the others, so here’s mine

    I’m a PhD from the Stanford Computer Science dept, 1990. I spent the 1990s starting computer companies and selling them, and retired around 2000 to work on math, learn physics and do a little bit of angel software investment.

    I’ve been working on misere combinatorial games recently

  33. Russ: I don’t think it’s crazy to feel mystical when thinking about numbers or the interconnection of different math concepts. Mathematicians might not put it in that particular language, but they recognize the feeling.

    tplambeck: That’s awesome. I think a lot of people dream of being able to retire young, and pursue their favorite topics.

  34. Russ: There’s a long tradition of mathematics intertwined with mysticism. Think of Plato and Pythagoras or the combinatorics of mystics such as Abulafia and Llull. Aczel argues for mystical influence on Cantor and Brouwer’s intuitionism was in line with his mystical philosophy. There’s a recent book on Descartes and mysticism. And a search on mysticism and mathematics will turn up hits relating to many cultures from around the world. Jainism is particularly interesting for the importance it placed on the contemplation of large numbers, both finite and and infinite.

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