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Michi’s blog » archive for 'Communicating science'

 BibLaTeX — why haven’t I used this earlier!?

  • March 7th, 2012
  • 5:01 pm

As any reader of this (now rather occasional) blog might have guessed by now, I do quite a lot of writing in LaTeX. It comes with the territory — I do mathematics research, so I write in LaTeX. I do quite a bit of research, so I spend a lot of time writing up my results.

And I care about the tools I use. I care deeply about the way my citations come out, and I have significant aesthetic opinions on the matter. I like author-date citation styles, much better than the horrible abbreviated alphabet soups so popular in mathematics styles, and much more pleasant to read than [1,2,5-7] as seems to be a dominant style in mathematical literature. If I see (Zomorodian, 2005) or even better (Edelsbrunner-Letscher-Zomorodian, 2000) I’ll know immediately what the reference is about when I read in my own field — whereas a citation of [3] forces me to leaf back to check what they mean.

 Collaborative tools

  • February 17th, 2012
  • 10:57 pm

I do quite a bit of collaboration. In fact, since after my PhD research, I have written exactly one preprint that does NOT spring from a collaboration. And there is quite a bit of technological support that flows into a good collaboration of mine. Here are some of the tools I uses and some of the thoughts I have on them.

Version control

Since I work in mathematics (and, arguably, in the fringes of Theory CS), everything I write is written in LaTeX. This is for one thing very helpful, since it means that the actual texts we collaborate on are plain text with markup. Eminently suitable for the toolkit provided by the software community.

 Repeal the nth amendment

  • March 24th, 2010
  • 8:42 pm

Inspired by this post over at Making Light, here, have a chart:

First, Second, …

1st, 2nd, …

And, because this chart is kinda tricky to read, here’s the log-scaled version of the same chart:

For the log-chart, I stopped stacking the numbers.

ETA: Changed the log-chart from a line-chart to a bar-chart after feedback from the readership of bOINGbOING. Hello and welcome!

 So that must mean I’ve been a mathematician since 2005?

  • December 8th, 2008
  • 4:03 am

This is a rather atrocious article giving yet another ad hoc “formula” to compute some numeric measurement of something-or-other. In this particular case, it’s about cleavage, and how to avoid showing too much of it, but these “formulae” plague us every time some journalist wants to math up their reporting.

What caught my eye in this particular case was the people they lined up to back up the story.

Mathematician William Hartston, who holds an MA in Maths from Cambridge University, reckons this will save a lot of showbiz blushes on the red carpet.

 A vision for collaborative mathematics platforms

  • June 19th, 2008
  • 8:53 am

Based on the extensive discussion at the Secret Blogging Seminar on tools for long-distance collaborations, Scott Morrison writes an introduction to source control with subversion for research collaborators.

In this post, Scott also offers, quite magnanimously, to setup and host subversion repositories for any mathematician who happens to want to start collaborating using subversion.

Which, to my mind, immediately prompts the question: why stop there? I’ve had ideas about setting up a free and easy to use platform for modern communication in the mathematical community before; but they were along the lines of duplicating‘s efforts; which isn’t really something that pays off on your efforts. Reading this, though, raised a new idea.

Why not setup a server – preferably with a university data center as backing – which dispenses free platforms with the following contents:

  • Source control. Preferably option on subversion, git, mercurial – or some such selection of modern and wide-spread systems.