2006 Year in Review

The big math story in 2006 was the publication of complete proofs of the Poincare conjecture, and subsequent events. In August, Grigori Perelman was awarded the Fields Medal for his role in the proof, which he turned down. At the same time the New Yorker published its famous article about Perelman and Shing-Tung Yau.

Ars Mathematica ran 224 posts for the year. The most popular post (judged by the number of comments) was Michael’s Who are you…who who, who who, which asked everyone to talk about their favorite subject. The second most popular was my unprovoked attack on category theory, Opinions of Category Theory. The third most popular, interestingly enough, was Hartry Field, which featured a detailed and substantive debate on Field’s interpretation of mathematics.

The post I am personally most proud of is Grete Hermann, which describes the contributions of an undeservedly obscure figure in twentieth century mathematics and physics. My New Year’s resolution for 2007 is to actually complete some of the partially-written posts I started in 2006 (I’m up to 60).


I just discovered a cool little tool/site, MimeTeX. MimeTeX, the tool, renders TeX formulas into GIFs. The program does not itself use TeX or TeX fonts, but rather implements a subset. MimeTeX, the site, actually allows you to generate GIFs from TeX formulas directly at the site. This might be handy for creating the occasional image for weblog posts.

The Illusory Unity

I will be out of town for a few days for Thanksgiving, so there won’t be any posts from me for the next few days.

Mathematical textbooks take pains to make their subject appear to form a unified whole. Is any such unity an illusion? Discuss.

Back from Vacation and Open Access

I’m back from vacation. With any luck, I’ll even think of something to say. Until that happens, I wanted to link to Peter Woit’s post, Open Access Publishing, which links to this CERN task force report on the subject. I haven’t read the report, but Peter’s description makes it sound pathetically timid. As he characterizes it:

The CERN task force doesn’t seem to me to be providing a viable long-term plan for moving to the kind of open access model they are supporting. It doesn’t address the fundamental problem of keeping a system where physicists hand over the scientific literature to Elsevier, then have to figure out how to buy it back.


I’ve just deleted about 200-300 spam comments that have appeared over the last day or two.  I don’t think I accidentially deleted any actual comments, but if I did, please post again.

Trackbacks (and pingbacks) have now been disabled so there shouldn’t be any more spam and the comment RSS feeds should (hopefully) be safe to subscribe to again.  I’d like to re-enable trackbacks again at some stage, but probably not until I’ve figured out how to block this bulk spam.

Back from vacation

I’m back from vacation. Tragically, my laptop, one that I literally took with me around the world, has died. But my commitment to your mathematical pleasure is so high that I plan on breaking into my neighbors’ houses to use their computers to post to the site.