In a glimpse of humanity’s future, which will be a grim dystopia for me and a paradise for everyone else, John Iskra is writing an undergraduate algebra text written purely from a categorical point of view, called Really Modern Algebra. It’s far from complete, but at 70 pages you can see where he’s going. He’s currently teaching a course out of the book, and also provides his slides from lectures.

Haven’t he heard the story about why some mathematician choose Abstract instead of Modern Algebra? Indeed, calling the book “Really Abstract Algebra” seems right.

Is that a famous story/joke? I don’t think I’m familiar with it.

I have forgotten which mathematician it is told about but it goes like this.

Someone asks a mathematicain why he uses the name “Abstract Algebra” instead of “Modern Algebra”. He answers “because someday it won’t be so modern”.

Well, the lime green got to me after a little while, but overall I quite liked what I saw. Oddly though, I feel some agreement with Walt on the matter (or what I *imagine* to be agreement) in that I find it easy to imagine someone finishing a course from this book (and doing quite well) and then floundering in the “real world” because all they had learned was the abstractions. Damn you Walt! Get out of my head!

Johan: That’s a good point. In the humanities, there’s a certain period that they refer to as “modern”, which they are now stuck with, so they’ve had to invent terms like “post-modern”.

Michael: I’m a simple man. I like my groups expressed through generators and relations (or in a pinch, as matrices). The only thought that I put in your head was “Damn you Walt! Get out of my head!”, and that was just as a test.