One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about moving farther in mathematics is being able to understand/process old information from a variety of different contexts. Of course, I’m still no Benson Farb (if you’ve never heard Benson talk about the insolvability of the quintic using algebro-geometric machinery, you’re really missing out), but I really do enjoy learning new ways to visualize things I’ve known for a while.
For example, there’s a novel trapezoidal proof of the Pythagorean Theorem that makes sense if you know simple things like the area of a right trapezoid:
. Seeing stuff like that makes me happy, and it makes me realize:
It could be fun/worthwhile to begin a blog post series of Interesting Proofs which outlines various “interesting” proofs of fundamental(-ish) mathematical facts. I’m imagining a recurring series of blog posts connected only by the fact that they’re novel proofs of things that most people have known since adolescence.
You guys should chime in to tell me whether you’d be interested in anything like that. Pretends people actually read this nonsense
The last time I posted something meaningful here (not counting the 2014 year-in-review and the most recent claim of attempting necromancy), it was June 2014 and I was about to embark on a summer of traveling. Around that same time, my son was 21 months old, I was working part-time at Wolfram, and I was a pre-doctoral candidate whose academic situation had gone (apparently without being blogged about) from two doctoral advisors with two separate projects to a single advisor plus a second non-advisor faculty colleague.
Typing that out makes me realize how much has changed.
For those of you keeping score, it’s now August 2015, and 13 months after the last update, lots and lots of things have changed. For example, my son is now one month away from being three years old. There’s also a lot of professional stuff, too. Let’s go somewhat chronologically.
I passed my advanced topics exam (ATE) and became a doctoral candidate. My work was on Gabai’s colossal (first) work on Reebless foliations in 3-manifolds, and while I definitely learned more significant math than I’ve ever learned, I feel like there’s so much in that paper than I’m years away from understanding.
I flew up to Baltimore to interview for an NSA gig. I didn’t get chosen.
I went to the 40th annual spring lecture series at the University of Arkansas and had a complete blast. I ended up slipping on ice, busting my ankle up pretty badly, and having some travel woes near the end but when all was said and done, I met some cool people (Benson Farb, Allen Hatcher) and saw some really great talks. Oh, and great coffee!
I went to Rhode Island College and gave an invited lecture on limit sets and computer visualization. It was an honor and I couldn’t have hoped for a better first invited lecture experience.
I finished a pretty uneventful spring semester at FSU. Lots of work. Lots and lots of work.
Once summer (2015) rolled around, I got accepted to some pretty great things:
I was fortunate enough to be awarded a pair of scholarships from the FSU math department.
And now, here we are! It’s officially September 1 (1:07am now): That means Fall semester has started at FSU (which means I’m now a fourth year doctoral student; eek) and things are back in full swing. It never gets familiar, really, no matter how many times it happens. C’est la vie, I guess.
I’ve got a bunch of stuff going on, professionally:
I’m still trying to make progress on my dissertation research (3-manifolds and, eventually, foliations).
I’m studying Dirac operators / spin manifolds / hypercomplex structures / supermanifolds / miscellaneous things that seem to get more and more into the realm of theoretical physics as we progress. This is with my non-advisor faculty colleague.
I’m trying to get a small research project going with an undergraduate at FSU on topological quantum computing (maybe Microsoft will take interest?).
Non-professionally, things have also happened. I got pretty serious into working out for a bit; later, I lost track due to travels, though I’ve since made some pretty considerable body transformations due to a healthier diet. I’ve also tuned back my Wolfram hours to give me more time to do student things; I’ve upgraded my workstations (desktop and mobile); I’ve made the switch from Windows to Linux (full-time rather than as a hobby)…
…that may actually be about it!
So there! Now we’re caught up! That means that I can pick up next time with an actual update / piece of newness / whatever. And who knows – maybe there will even be some math thrown in here! gasp
"A good stock of examples, as large as possible, is indispensable for a thorough understanding of any concept, and when I want to learn something new, I make it my first job to build one." - Paul Halmos