About michael

grad school crony

You probably already told me…

I have long been a fan of John Cramer’s Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics [Wikipedia link here.], mainly because it appeals to my “Trust the math” outlook towards physics models (which in turn probably goes a long way in explaining why I am not a physicist).

Apparently his proposed experiment is in the news again and I can’t seem to find any real info about the current state of affairs/partial results. Does anyone have know anything more up to date?

More of this, please. I think.

I ran across this journey to understand Poincaré and thought I would pass it on. I am a big fan of the idea of popularizations, and am especially enamored with the “you too could have invented X”  leitmotif that is statrting to emerge in that space (I read your version on CS Monads, sigfpe. it only made me like the form more). This link isn’t in that vein, but any effort is a worthwhile one in my book. It is a work in progress, so I am worried about commenting on it, but I am interested in people’s opinion of it. Is it off target for any particular audience other than the author? By that I mean the people who know the math will think too little is being said, while the ones who do not will be under the impression the trees are occluding the forest. More to the point, is any popularization doomed to such a critique?

Call for papers

I’m flying to Seattle in a few hours, and it is a ~two hour flight. Anyone have any good ideas for a good paper to print out from the Arxiv (or elsewhere) to read during? Anything to keep me absorbed during that tedium? I fly back on Monday, so I suppose it could be a 4 hour paper :)

Eveything old is new again.

I don’t really have a good sense of how much crossover there is between the math blogosphere (such as there is one) and the physics blogosphere (hoo baby!). More specifically, I know that there is some crossover from the physics people to this site, but I am unclear on the other direction. Walt tells me that we have the most read math blog \exists, so I thought I would direct our ten readers to the brouhaha that has managed to coalesce around one of our crossovers, Peter Woit. We link to his blog, so there really is no point to this post, other than for me to comment, that it reminds me of Einstein’s comment “What is all the sturm and drang among the mathematicians?” in reference to the big dust-up brought on by Brouwer’s Intuitionist program, only this time the roles are reversed. Since I have no investment in string theory being correct as far as interpretations go, and only really look at it as some cool mathematics (and get to say “not my area”), I get to embrace the shadenfreud that exists at the core of my being and exhort: FIGHT!, FIGHT!


My math sibling Anton Dochtermann recently posted a paper to the Arxiv, HOM COMPLEXES AND HOMOTOPY THEORY IN THE CATEGORY OF GRAPHS introducing the idea of weak equivalence to the category of graphs (model graph category anyone?) and subsumes other graph homotopy theories into the framework. This is all a natural progression of research that has its roots in in the topological ideas introduced in Lov’asz’s proof of Kneser’s conjecture and culminates in K-theory for graphs I suppose.

Stay tuned for a paper from another math sibling Matt Kahle, giving classes of graphs for which the chromatic number estimate in Lov’asz’s proof is tight.

My way or the highway.

I have to admit that I have a somewhat dismissive nature sometimes, and have been known to make critical remarks for non-public consumption; “Programmers cannot do math at ALL” (hi Dale!) Of course, this is more out of shock than a belief in any natural order. I firmly believe that anyone of everyday intelligence can learn math. I am of the opinion that I could teach calculus* to a dead twig if the twig where sufficiently motivated.

Which is why I was happy to see that someone had written a blog entry on learning math being what you make of it. The only thing I would criticize is that he is completely wrong.

Ok..just kidding, but I do have to say that I would not follow his councel on exercises. When I read a GTM on a new subject (papers don’t usually have many exercises :), I don’t really view the problem sets as seperate from the explanitory text – I do every single problem. This is because the author of the text did not view the problem sets as seperate either. It goes beyond “having been shown the idea, cement it in your mind with the excercises”. Most of the time, realizations that the author wants you to have are set up in the problem sets because they would be TOO padantic and verbose in the main text.

*This isn’t restricted to calculus of course.