Archive for the ‘non-math’ Category


I will be unable to blog for the next two weeks. Two weeks after that, I’ll be moving into Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge! That is, if I can send my visa application in on time…

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Update and wisdom

I forgot to mention some things in the last update:

  • This summer I will be at MIT for SPUR, which should be a lot of fun. I debated for awhile between SPUR and applying to be a PROMYS counselor, but after thinking about it I’m too excited about the opportunity for research to turn it down.
  • Next year I will be studying abroad at Cambridge. I’m really looking forward to this. Maybe I’ll even meet Timothy Gowers!

Incidentally, when I went to talk to David Jerison about SPUR, the conversation shifted to RSI (which he is also involved with). I told him I’d always been a little embarrassed about my RSI paper because the bulk of the argument in the first part of the paper is a rediscovery of a standard lemma in linear algebra (that two quadratic forms can be simultaneously diagonalized). Jerison replied that this wasn’t something to be embarrassed about; to the contrary, discovering a result “in the wild” meant that I would better understand its value (or something to that effect). Wise words.

I’ve been reading about a lot of interesting stuff; hopefully I’ll get some time to post about it during spring break.

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Apropos of nothing, I now have a new favorite mathematical term:

“Fake baby monster Lie algebra.”

And I thought “complex simple Lie algebra” was funny.

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When you find a new math blog, do you go back and read its archives?

This was a feasible strategy for me when I only found new math blogs every once in a blue moon, but now that Google Reader is recommending feeds to me I don’t think it’s sustainable. But now I’m wondering if other people attempt this at all.

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I can’t resist mentioning a joke I heard from an episode of American Dad. Stan Smith has this to say about his training as a negotiator:

Hey, you’ve got one of the CIA’s top negotiators on your side. Y’know, I negotiated my way through negotiator training. I should’ve failed the hell out of that class. That’s how good I am.

It reminds me of some of the issues that cropped up in Scott Aaronson’s discussion of side-splitting proofs, especially Theorem 5. I can’t help but chuckle at the fact that Stan’s line gives both a lower and an upper bound on the quality of his negotiation skills!

Anyone know of other jokes like this one?

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