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Michi’s blog » archive for December, 2007

 Calling all San Diego participants and Californians

  • December 20th, 2007
  • 1:51 pm

I’ll be in San Diego for the AMS-MAA Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 5-11. I would be happy to meet up with cool people, blog readers, blog writers and what not – regardless of whether you actually will participate in the meeting or not. Drop me an email (contact data in the [about] page here) and we’ll coordinate something.

Also, I’ll be speaking twice. Come listen – if you dare. ;)

 The year 2007 in review

  • December 19th, 2007
  • 12:57 pm

From each month, the first sentence of the first post.

January: I decided on a whim to look in at the Dilbertblog, where the top post at the moment has Scott Adams calling all atheists that discuss on the net irrational, using a rather neat strawman carbon copy of most discussions of faith between believers (i.e. mostly Christians) and atheists he has seen on the web.

February: The second carnival of mathematics is up over at Good Math, Bad Math.

March: I just met up with the workgroup in the Deutsche Mathematikervereinigung (German Association of Mathematicians) with interest spanning

 Papers status

  • December 16th, 2007
  • 10:34 am

I just received my first ever referee’s report. Yikes!

Suffice to say, the report did not, as some I’ve seen blogged about, tear me a new one. Far from it – it was civil, kind, and pointed out several areas where my article text overlapped known arguments from other people and was generally superfluous as well as several areas where my article was too curt and didn’t actually spell out the new ideas sticking in it.

Also, making the relation of my results and those I rely on to the results of the Grand Old Man in applying A_\infty-techniques in group cohomology explicit and discuss these in more detail was requested.

I know I couldn’t expect to write The Perfect Article as my first submission ever. And it’s not a flat out denial. And it brings constructive comments about how to make this a better article. Still, I think my ego needs a little bit of training to learn to cope with this part of the review process.

 Planning the future

  • December 14th, 2007
  • 4:31 pm

The last meeting with my 10th grade topology kids this year just finished. We introduced singular homology, calculated the singular homology of a point and discussed homeomorphism invariance.

Next term, we’ll want to show homotopy invariance and that the singular and simplicial homology coincide when applicable. After that, we’ll change directions slightly.

The future after that holds knot theory, was decided today. We’ll want to introduce knots, look at Reidemeister moves and basic knot invariants. I use basic here in a pretty wide sense – we’ll probably do the Jones polynomial and we might even end up doing Khovanov homology if I feel particularly insane late spring.

 Riding the Google Charts API bandwagon

  • December 13th, 2007
  • 3:05 pm

Last week, the news hit the blogosphere that Google had released a beta API for generating graphs using a reasonably easy and transparent GET parametrisation.

Inspired by this, and inspired by my early playing around with Ruby on Rails, I decided to whack together a Rails plugin that takes care of building the Google Charts IMG tag using what I hope is reasonably easy to use syntax.

I have a test-site using random data up for playing around with it.

The test-site as such runs on Ruby on Rails. The controller does some parsing and setting up of relevant arrays, and primarily generates random data for plotting.

The view has the following source code:

<%= google_chart(@data, @alt_text, @options)  %>

<p><% form_tag "" do %>

<label for="options[type]">Type</label>
<%= select_tag "options[type]", options_for_select(@typeopts,@options["type"])

<label for="options[title]">Title</label>
<%= text_field_tag "options[title]", @options["title"] %>

 Pluralization in Rails

  • December 9th, 2007
  • 10:13 pm

So, there is this one big and neat framework called Rails, building on top of this one neat new programming language called Ruby.

And one of the things that makes Rails so Damn Neat is that if you only set things up the right way around, it guesses almost everything you need it to guess for you.

One of the ways it does this is by pluralization. Basically, the model Foo has a model defined in app/model/foo.rb and it accesses the database table foos.

So, when talking a good friend through the basics, we created the table persons and generated the model Person. And promptly got an error from the framework.

It turns out that the pluralization of person is people. I wonder what else irregularities they built into the system. If I have a model called Index, does Rails expect it to read from the database table indexes or from indices?

 Reaching for the postdoc world doorknocker

  • December 5th, 2007
  • 12:13 pm

The last postdoc carnival for 2007 is coming to town, and given my current position in my career, I thought I’d try to slowly edge into that arena as well.

A short background blurb for those who haven’t read this blog before – and for those who haven’t heard the story: I’m a mathematics PhD student from Sweden in Germany, living apart from my wife for about 2

 Synaesthesia and cognition

  • December 3rd, 2007
  • 8:52 am

So, there is this one condition called synaesthesia, where basically perception gets crosslinked. Most commonly, numbers, letters, and words get colours coupled to them. This way around, I have a few friends who I know have it.

The more exotic varieties couple more or other senses to each other.

The whole thing gets Really Interesting, and ties in to quite a bit of philosophy as well, when you start coming near the really odd cases. Qualia are the philosophical term for “how things are perceived by us”. Basically, it boils down to the following: if I see something red, is this intrinsic to the object, or something existing in my perceptive neurons only?

And so far, arguing about it has been more or less all there was. At least known to me.

 It’s carnival time!

  • December 1st, 2007
  • 10:54 pm

Issue # 21 in the Carnival of Mathematics series is up now over at the (not so) Secret Blogging Seminar.

The resulting discussion there amuses at least me.