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 13 on a friday

  • July 27th, 2007
  • 10:35 am

The new carnival of mathematics is up over at PolyMathematics.
Yours truly is featured, but other than that, there seems to be heavy overweight on the educator side.

Do we have the volume for a Carnival of Research Mathematics?

27 People had this to say...

  • Nick Bornak
  • July 27th, 2007
  • 14:24

If you make it, they will come.


You’ll note I’m not there. As fewer and fewer research posts make it into CoM, fewer and fewer research-interested people visit, and I get less and less of a bump. Frankly, it’s just not worth it anymore to break my stride just so I can hit the Carnival’s schedule.

  • Michi
  • July 27th, 2007
  • 16:56

John: I don’t keep track of who reads me. I’m glad when I get comments, and when I notice I get linked, but I don’t think I even set up logging in a way that makes running site statistics reasonably easy.

And I don’t write my posts for the Carnival. I submit posts I write anyway to get them there. And they often have been up for a while by the time the carnival comes around.

All that said, I think the basic idea of the carnival is absolutely marvelous, and I feel sad more than anything that the educator slant has taken over the carnival so much.

Thus my reopening (now that I’m paying attention again) the idea of two parallel carnivals – if we had a dedicated research carnival. A carnival not afraid to refer the non-advanced posters to the other carnival. With a sparse enough posting schedule that the people participating keep up and tight enough that noone forgets that it exists.

[…] one former participant, more interested in the “academic” end, has decided to quit (see this comment thread). For that matter, our founder has quit blogging […]


As I suggested previously, I propose we divide the Carnival:
(1) Carnival of (Graduate) Research Mathematics (your
(2) Carnival of Math Education (covers topics K-14)

Do you have time to moderate the latter? I can do the former if we do it on a monthly basis.

In Alon’s absence (and his efforts will be sorely missed), someone needs to pick up the slack. I don’t think one or two people can adequately moderate all editions of these carnivals, so we might need teams of 4-5 but someone needs to be in charge to insure quality, consistency and punctuality, not to mention the technical issues.
Let me know if you are interested or if you could recommend someone. We will need to plan this fairly soon.
Dave Marain


Dave, I’d support that myself. Alon had the right initiative, but evidently too little follow-through, and not enough foresight to see how the two strains would behave.

I’d be willing to help moderate a carnival of research mathematics, maybe on a monthly basis (given that research blathering is still in its ascendency). I’d also suggest that we break with carnival tradition and just host it at one site devoted to that purpose.


I’m a bit uncomfortable having this conversation on Michi’s blog without Michi’s involvement! Anyhoo–
I’m willing to host a Carnival of K-14 Math or Math Education or whatever the consensus might be for such a group. However, there are some technicalities to overcome:
(1) There are still a few Carnivals for which a host has already volunteered I believe. These hosts would have to agree to a change midstream or we should wait until they are done, not accepting any more volunteers for now.
(2) As far as who should be the principal moderator for each of these Carnivals, there are several outstanding bloggers who may want to co-host and who could share the burden of hosting on a rotating basis. Perhaps we can identify 3-4 such volunteers, although my instincts are to have one primary moderator to insure consistency and make it easier to manage.
(3) Again, I would be willing to do this but I would like as many bloggers as possible to read these ideas and I’m not sure this comment will reach a critical mass of readers. John, should we copy and paste this comment into one of our own blogs or at the main Carnival of Math site (if Alon is ok with this) or somewhere else? I’m thinking of posting this on my site in the next couple of days, but I don’t want to be viewed as preemptive here. I will check Michi’s blog to see if there are any responses to this and perhaps Michi can also reply since he was one of the first to raise this issue. I would also like others’ ideas about the titles of these 2 carnivals. I’m not sure it’s a no-brainer. There is a journal for Research in Math Education (JRME) and that has both ‘Math Ed’ and ‘Research’ in its title! To me the distinction is between ‘graduate’ level mathematics and ‘undergraduate’ level (not beyond K-14). My observation is that most of the non-technical math blogs focus on middle and secondary level mathematics with heavier stress on grades 4-8. I’ve already imposed too much specificity here since some bloggers didn’t want ANY separation in the carnival! As always, we can’t make everyone happy in life so somebody needs to make a decision and move on…
I definitely support a monthly carnival in both cases.
Dave Marain


since some bloggers didn’t want ANY separation in the carnival

They may not want any separation, but we have a de facto separation as it is. The lower-level material has overwhelmed the higher-level material, and even when my stuff is included I don’t really get much of a bump in traffic because people just aren’t going to the Carnival for the high-level stuff.

  • Michi
  • August 14th, 2007
  • 21:41

Dave: Do not feel guilty for discussing in my blog. My reason for not talking more is that I’m on vacation and preparing my marriage. Thus, I have dysproportionally little time to spend on blogs and blogging right now.

I feel the current dicussion to be interesting and very important. Please keep at it.


Michi, John–
I want to get the feel of some of the regular visitors to my blog (I might post something about the split). In addition, the other non-research math bloggers who have hosted Carnivals may want to provide input. After a couple of weeks of getting replies, I will then discuss it further with the two of you and come to a decision if possible. Some bloggers may be away on vacation and I don’t want to make decisions in their absence. However, if I don’t get much response I will go ahead and use my blog as the home base for future Carnivals of Math Education or whatever we decide to call it.


John, Michi, et al–
I took the plunge. Pls check out the latest posting on my site:
Awaiting replies…


In case the url was not visible in the previous comment:


  • Jackie
  • August 16th, 2007
  • 3:35

As a reader of the carnival that appreciates both aspects, I was and still am in favor of keeping one joint carnival. However, as it appears that it has already been decided to split into two carnivals, I can always choose to read two different carnivals!

As for the change to monthly, I am a bit dismayed…but as I’m not blogging/contributing/hosting, I can’t really complain.

I greatly appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in past and future carnivals. Thank-you!


I am not so happy with this proposal. As it stands, the carnival is not such a big event – dividing it will leave us with 2, each smaller.

There has been a problem keeping up the number of higher end submissions, but we have the experience of a very small number of carnivals so far.

1. We should ask hosts (or instruct hosts) to make active efforts to go after a variety of submissions;

2. We should hold off on any major changes until the Fall, when blogging has picked back up; and

3. all of us should recognize that the fringes, the boundaries between research and undergrad, between undergrad and high school, between high school and elementary – we should understand that it is precisely at these boundaries that sometimes the most interesting discussion takes place.


Jonathan, as it stands my position is clear. I will not be the only advanced writer submitting. Without a split I will no longer submit my own entries. Others may do so on my behalf, but I’ve had enough of being the only person writing on something above the level of a sudoku.


Then try a journal. You won’t have to read my sudokus.

Dave, Michi, you might look at the first 8 Carnivals. I hosted the ninth, while school was still in session but college was out. I solicited submissions, because so few came in, and ended up with a big carnival, but weighted towards 6-12 (those are the bloggers I knew). The next few Carnivals have been in the slower months, and had non-university hosts.

This carnival was brand new in January, and immediately produced several modestly successful editions (1-8, and maybe 9) before slowing down for the summer. That’s where we are likely headed back to in September, likely a bit stronger. Look at 1 – 8, do you find them problematic in any way?


And obviously, getting good hosts is important.

And then look again at those first few carnivals. Was there enough to sustain it? I think the proof is in the continued existence. Was there enough to sustain 2 carnivals? I don’t know. I don’t think so. And I don’t know why it would be desirable. It make take some work, though, to keep the levels of mathematics better balanced.


It’s not about my not wanting to read that material, it’s about the fact that fewer and fewer people who want to read my stuff go to the Carnival. It’s just not worth it to make a special Carnival-friendly post.

Look, as it stands the Carnival effectively is about the lower-level mathematics. All I’m calling for is to recognize the de facto state of affairs and move on with it.


You already know I respect your opinions and I won’t debate each of your excellent points. The bottom line for me is that there is a very good reason to have a Carnival of Math Education and a similar good reason for a Carnival of Math Research. I have confidence in John that he can develop the latter and I have more
than enough confidence in you and some other top math bloggers that we can make the former flourish. As much as I would like to see K-12 bloggers communicating with research mathematicians, the reality is that this rarely occurs.Ideally, we would like these worlds to intersect more often, but the blogosphere may not be the ideal forum for this at this time. I felt that the other Carnivals were successful, but the juxtaposition of the two extremes seemed somewhat unnatural and forced. Others from both spheres may add their thoughts over the next few days and we’ll get a better idea where the consensus is.

Either way, we have a more immediate concern. After Aug 24th, there are no more hosts and someone (or ones) needs to take charge here. I’m willing to do this but decisions need to be made quickly.

BTW, I was hoping to elicit comments on my blog since I raised the questions there but it’s getting awkward for me to be in 2 places at the same time!


jackie, jonathan–
If John A plans on creating a Carnival of Research Math, then we can keep the original name, CoM, and allow it to go in whatever direction it takes. I would be fine with that. Certainly no decision has been made by anyone here. I thought it would make sense to open this up for discussion at this time since we need new leadership for the Carnival. Waiting a few weeks before making any decision makes sense, but who is going to host the next few weeks? That requires a more immediate decision.


Ugh, where do I start?

There are a lot of math bloggers who don’t submit to the carnival. Just casually following links from a few blogs I already know, I’ve found something like 6 reasonably advanced posts, of which about 5 postdate the 14th carnival. Is any of them about the proof of Taniyama-Shimura? No. But they’re not high-school level, and some of them are just above my level of knowledge (again, it doesn’t say much… but I’m definitely past high school math). There are 3-4 more that traditionally produced some high-level stuff but haven’t posted any recently; if any of them does, I’ll be on it faster than I raid free food.

So, John, if you do submit this time, there’s a good chance your post is going to be one of 5 or 6 grad-level ones and 10+ post-freshman-year-of-college ones.

And, as I’ve said from time to time to hosts who got shafted because I took too much time to set them up on BlogCarnival, I can always temporarily come out of retirement. I still have my incomplete series on Galois theory, and now that I know some things about elliptic curves and modular forms, I can begin a new, more advanced series. In fact, I might do that even without being dragooned, if only because it helps me learn this stuff better, and I need to know it like the back of my hands for my orals.

Finally: I have a good feeling someone will volunteer to host the 16th carnival by Wednesday. If no one does, I will. There’s a difference between wanting to get as far away as possible from my ill-fated attempt at being a pundit, and shirking responsibility for things I’ve started.


Welcome back, Alon! I should have known you were still lurking out there and would not abandon your ‘child!’

I’d be happy to host the 16th but it might be preferable to have someone new if anyone is interested. I take it from your comment that you do believe the CoM should remain intact and see what develops. You’re probably tired of hearing it, but we are all indebted to you for getting this off the ground. I do believe the Carnival still has a lot of life. We will be here to help you in any way possible to maintain this momentum.
Dave Marain

[…] There’s been considerable discussion, particularly in this thread on Michi’s blog about the Carnival of […]


Actually, I haven’t heard that in weeks or even months, depending on what counts as thanks. So thank you, Dave.

I’ll put you in if I can’t find someone else soon… thanks for volunteering.

My proposal for submitting posts of my own still stands, though.


I think the Carnival was depressed over the summer, because of the season, not because of the content. None of us got the hits we got in the Spring, I don’t think.

I look forward to a real pick up as school comes back into session. Alon just started this thing a few months ago… and we’ve survived our first summer. This has been a good start.


[…] readers are circulating this site, I thought it might be a good time to resurrect a slightly old discussion on the place of research in the mathematics carnival. Some people seem to think research is getting […]

[…] posts and “math research” (for lack of a better term) posts, for example here, here and here. So as a little experiment, I’ll be grouping the submissions by these categories. […]

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