Update since the update

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 spent summer 2014 traveling.
  • Afterwards, I was offered a full-time position at Wolfram as Math Content Developer. I accepted and took the year off from teaching.
  • I landed a lead role in a really awesome math-related project at Wolfram.
  • I went to a great conference at Yale and really enjoyed New England. New Haven is absolutely incredible.
  • 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 went to the Tech Topology Conference soon after becoming a candidate.
  • Not long after, FSU had a pretty gnarly conference on Clifford analysis.
  • 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

Good night, everyone.

PS: Oh! I was also introduced to Mnemosyne by a mathematician considerably better than myself! So far, I’m a pretty big fan.

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What’s been goin’ on…

So, I’ve been doing a piss-poor job of keeping this part of the internet pruned and tended to, etc. I’ve decided to stop in and give this thing a good once-over with how the semester’s been going now that the semester is (finally) nearing its end.

  • My teaching assignment this semester was awful. I’ve been unimpressed mostly throughout.
  • I gave two seminar talks at FSU’s complex analysis seminar: Complex Structures on Manifolds and Constructing Complex Manifolds Using Lie Groups. The first went pretty okay; the second was very spur of moment and came when I was in the middle of battling the flu and was unsurprisingly less-good.
  • I’ve had two bouts of exams so far this semester and have managed to escape both with A averages.
  • I recently concluded the two mandatory class-related presentations I had for the semester: I talked about Frobenius’ Theorem on the integrability of k-plane distributions for my Riemannian Geometry class, and about Hyperkähler manifolds for my class on Complex Manifolds. Like above, the first of these was pretty okay and the second was kinda “meh”.
  • I picked doctoral advisors.

That last point is one I’m particularly happy about.

As I tend to do, I managed to pick a path that’s not the standard among students (from what I can tell) in that I picked two advisors who work in two totally unrelated fields. Be that as it may, however, I’ll officially be under the tutelage of Drs. Sergio Fenley and Craig Nolder who – respectively – study geometric topology and hypercomplex analysis/geometry. For Dr. Fenley, I’m going to be studying various aspects of foliation theory; for Dr. Nolder, I think I’m going to be studying various aspects of lots of different things.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Currently, then, I’m in the process of balancing end-of-semester duties and candidacy prep duties, which means I basically haul giant stacks of books around with me 24/7 and try to read any time my eyes/brain aren’t needed for something else. It’s exhausting and nerve-wracking and brain-intensive and amazing and surreal. I literally can’t express how excited I am.

When classes start back on Monday, there will be one week of non-finals classes followed by one week of finals; over the course of those two weeks, I’ll have lots of TAing to do and lots of exams to take. When those weeks are over, though, I’ll be enveloping myself in reading roughly 20 hours a day.

Or thereabouts.

I think that’s about all I’ve got presently. I’ve been on the look-out for various fellowship/scholarship opportunities, as well as various summer programs and internships, etc. I’ll try to post progress on those fronts (and others, too) here as I remember. Between all that, I think it’s safe to say that my updating of Hatcher solutions is on the (very very far) back burner for a bit, but if I’m able, I plan to spend time going through, correcting the screw-ups that exist (believe me, there are many) and trying to get generally better-familiarized with the techniques necessary to master that material.

Maybe Dr. Fenley will help. 🙂

Until next time….

The End of Summer, or “Orientation”

My intention was to make my next post (i.e., this post) be some cool tidbits I’ve been pondering concerning the Gamma function (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_function), but alas, I’m simply too tired to squeeze that one in for today. I’ll try to do some of that later today – you know, when I’m not galavanting around Tallahassee, attempting to establish residency status. But that’s neither here nor there.

Instead, I’ll update about the most recent departmental things that have gone on, most notable of which was the first day of orientation.

The first day of orientation happened yesterday (as it’s 2:41 am now) from 10:45am until…. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and as is usual in such situations, I was a little uneasy about being around a whole slew of new people, jumping through hoops, etc. etc. I can honestly say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised.

I woke up and saw that it was raining. Surprisingly, rain has been the ongoing theme since arriving here in Tallahassee, but we were fortunate to wake up early, leave early, and arrive with a few minutes to spare. At 10:45, we met Torrece – the Graduate Admissions Coordinator – to receive info packets. Not long after (about 11-ish), we went to “the big classroom” (LOV 101, which seats 120 students) for some general information, etc. During this, we got to “meet” (in actuality, we got to see from afar) some of the faculty who were “important for us to know,” and after much ado about nothing (or so it seemed), we went upstairs for lunch.

Lunch began at noon. It was a quaint setup with a light meal, and by way of how the setup was designed (or so I suspect), we were put right in the middle of forced socialization. As is often the case in such situations, the information I heard was largely forgotten afterwards, but what I did take away from the session is that most of the new admits were pretty nice folks. That’s always a plus.

After lunch, we dealt with a small scheduling mishap, after which we split up by area of study (pure, applied, bio and financial math are the options here) to register for our first semester of classes. During the pure math registration, I got to meet the advisor (Dr. van Hoeij) for the very first time; I also got the first WTF? You’re a Ph.D. student in what now, trying to take which classes for what? Say huh? moment of the semester when I asked Dr. van Hoeij about a scheduling quirk stemming from my having registered for two early qualifiers.

Those are always pretty funny.

Apparently, because I’m signed up for two qualifiers, I have to sign up for two additional “backup” classes in addition to the mandatory three everyone has to take. That means that for the first week or two of the semester, I’ll be devoting myself to five graduate math courses (for which I may or may not be qualified), in addition to teaching and lesson planning and whatever else may be required. I guess there’s no easing back into academia for me, eh?

Anyway, this is my current schedule as it stands now. Changes will be made later this semster:

Measure and Integration I, MWF, 11:15am – 12:05pm

Topology I, MWF, 12:20pm – 1:10pm

Abstract Algebra I, MWF, 1:25pm – 2:15pm

Complex Variables I, MWF, 2:30pm – 3:20pm

Groups, Rings, and Vector Spaces I, TR, 11:00pm – 12:15pm

I know you’re jealous of my Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, right? 😛

Anyway…after registering for classes, we were ordered to go to some building or other (I still don’t remember the name of it) to do “other stuff.” The other stuff was us getting assigned twelve different identifying pieces of information, having our pictures taken for the website, setting up email forwarding, etc; of course, all this stuff (it took about an hour, an hour fifteen total) happened after wandering around – still in the rain – trying to find some building I’d never been to before. The good news was that I finished everything (at 3:15pm) before I was even scheduled to start “other stuff” training (3:30pm), so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Honestly, it was a little more underwhelming than I’d expected it to be. As I said previously, later today is going to involve me trying to remedy some domicile information, and then the rest of the week is eaten up with more registration stuff. The bad news about that is that my Saturday Sunday qualifier in Complex Analysis isn’t going to get nearly the last minute cramming it ought to; the good news? I’m not really sure yet. 😛

Stay tuned for some Gamma function nonsense, and maybe some other interesting tidbits as the journey towards academic greatness continues.

Second Friday

So it’s Friday….

I’m starting to think Fridays are the new Monday….

In particular, this is the second Friday we’ve been in Tallahassee (which I’m sure explains the title of the post), and so far, Fridays haven’t really been kind to us. Last week was little ado about nothing, but today’s been pretty awful: Lots of difficulties with people in administrative positions in the Tallahassee government plus some car trouble that’s undoubtedly the direct result of people not knowing what they’re doing equals a whole bunch of terribleness.

It might even be bad enough for me to go full Charles Barkley on this one and call it turrrbuhlness. But that’s neither here nor there.

As is generally the case, though, mathematics (or, more specifically, the pursuit thereof) provides the only ray of decency in such circumstances.

So far this week, I’ve made some advancements in that pursuit:

  • On Monday, we spent our first real day on the FSU campus. During that trip, we visited the bookstore (erroneously, as circumstances would prove) and the student ID office / Suntrust bank location. The result? I got my ID made, my campus bank account established, and the linking of the two completed.
  • On Thursday, I received an email from the current department chair, Dr. Case, indicating that I’ve received my office early due to my signing up for early qualifiers. I don’t know what this means yet since I haven’t been to the math building directly (I plan to remedy that absence early next week), but my office is apparently in 404/6 C. I’m not sure which building that’s in or anything, but eh: I suppose I’ll figure that out soon enough.

In addition to the above, I’ve also gotten back into a somewhat-professional routine of preparing for qualifiers, meaning that I’ve spent two legit days this week preparing for the Complex Analysis exam.

I’ve been using FSU’s old qualifiers as guides, along with Conway’s Functions of One Complex Variable I to help refresh some of the pertinent ideas there. Of course, Conway is a standard text for that particular curriculum, though I’m being constantly reminded of how idiotic it was to sell back my copies of Marsden & Hoffman’s Basic Complex Analysis and Gamelin’s Complex Analysis: Both of those texts are more elementary than Conway’s but both are superior in different ways. The good news, I guess, is that I have a couple supplementary texts I can use on my own – one of which is Ahlfors’ Complex Analysis, which is said to be very good – so there’s no lack of resources for me to consider. I’m not sure it matters much at this point, though.

I may try to post the occasional problem here so you guys can see what I’m workin’ with, but that’ll have to start later. Definitely not today.

Definitely not.

New To Town

Well, we’ve been in town for about a week now and we’re finally starting to get settled in. In the midst of settling down, I have the overwhelming burden that is studying for qualifying exams.

Each qualifying exam is a four hour test meant to evaluate whether a graduate student has the required knowledge to officially move into Ph.D. candidacy or not. In my case, I’m signed up to take two such qualifiers – one in Complex Analysis and one in Groups, Rings and Vector Spaces.

I can say, honestly, that I have been studying for these exams off and on throughout the summer; if I’m still honest, however, I’d have to say that my studying has been more off because of all the other random chores and responsibilities that have been on for what seems to have been nonstop. I’d managed to get by with that under the pretense of, Eh: I don’t even know when the exams are going to be given so I’m sure I have plenty of time. After all, ignorance is bliss.

As of a couple days ago, though, my ignorance (and, hence, my bliss) was erased.

I’m scheduled to take my Complex Analysis qualifier on Sunday, August 26 (from 1pm to 5pm) and the other on Saturday, September 1 (also from 1pm to 5pm). That means that I have no more than 18 days – indeed, two and a half weeks – until I’m put in a very stressful, very uncomfortable situation for which I should be prepared.

should be prepared, but alas, I’m fearful that I won’t be.

My game plan is to update this thing with my journey through mathematics: It began about a week ago, when we pulled into town, and it’ll be never-ending – exhilarating, refreshing, and frightening – for the next few years. I look forward to having folks along for the ride.