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Posts

September 04, 2015

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6:18 AM | A Compositional Framework for Markov Processes
  This summer my students Brendan Fong and Blake Pollard visited me at the Centre for Quantum Technologies, and we figured out how to understand open continuous-time Markov chains! I think this is a nice step towards understanding the math of living systems. Admittedly, it’s just a small first step. But I’m excited by this […]

September 03, 2015

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8:01 PM | Whiplashed
I recently watched the movie Whiplash, about a college jazz band director, Fletcher played by J.K. Simmons, who torments his musicians to force them to be their best. The movie focuses on a drummer, Andrew, which makes for a great audio/video feast but in its essentials Whiplash is a story of a professor and his student. I can imagine playing the role, “Do you think your proof is correct? Yes or No? Are you applying Toda’s theorem correctly or are you using the same crazy logic your dad […]
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6:00 PM | Basal Ingredients Of Society • 2
Re: Michael Hays • How to Fix the College Debt Problem The rationale for Universal Free Public Education is that a certain level of education is necessary for a person to function as a full-fledged citizen in a well-tempered and … Continue reading →
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4:00 PM | A new ACM proposal for integrating conference and journal publication models
The relative merits (and problems) of the conference and journal publication models are a ubiquitous topic of conversation at almost every conference/workshop I’ve ever attended.    It’s been great to see lots of experiments with adjustments to the models in recent years at, e.g., ICML, VLDB, SIGGRAPH, etc.   For various reasons, these venues have […]
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3:12 PM | Knuth on Knowing Your Audience
Donald Knuth has a great ability to summarize things in pithy, quotable nuggets. A good example is the following sentence from his 2001 book Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About: The amount of terror that lives in a speaker’s … Continue reading →
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2:03 PM | MaTEAmatics
The height of civilisation: mathematics, comfy chairs and afternoon tea. #Reasons_why_I_like_my_fieldwork   
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7:54 AM | Alive, not alife, look!
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: artificial life, chemlambda, experia, quiner
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5:57 AM | FOCS 2015 and KARPFest80
[Forwarding an announcement by Prasad Raghavendra –Boaz] FOCS 2015 will be held at Berkeley, California on October 18–20, 2015. Registrations are open at: http://focs15.simons.berkeley.edu/registration.html The deadline for early registration is Sept 25th. KARPfest80 On Saturday October 17, the day immediately before FOCS 2015, the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing will host a celebration […]
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5:14 AM | Automated drawing and optimization of syntax diagrams
If you've ever written a computer program you probably learned a little bit about context-free grammars, a formal method of describing the syntax of most programming languages that can be turned automatically into code for parsing those languages through the magic of compiler-compilers such as yacc. They're used for most other kinds of formal language, too: see for instance the JSON home page, which includes a grammar describing the syntax of data-description language JSON.Go look again at the […]
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4:10 AM | 10 Lectures and 42 Open Problems in Mathematics of Data Science
This upcoming fall, I am teaching a special topics course at the Math Department in MIT, called Topics in Mathematics of Data Science. This will be a mostly self-contained research-oriented course focusing on the theoretical aspects of algorithms that aim to extract information from data. I have divided the content of the class in ten topics (or “lectures”), … Continue reading 10 Lectures and 42 Open Problems in Mathematics of Data Science →

September 02, 2015

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7:44 PM | Gaussian Rings and Flat Dimension
Let $R$ be any commutative ring. The content of a polynomial $f\in R[x]$ is by definition the two-sided ideal in $R$ generated by the coefficients of $f$. If $f,g\in R[x]$, then $c(fg)\subseteq c(f)c(g)$, because each coefficient of $fg$ is a linear combination of elements of $c(f)c(g)$. Sometimes, however, this inclusion is strict. For example, if […]
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2:45 PM | Has 1984 Arrived?
Answer: No. This isn’t going to be some conspiracy theory post about living in a police state and carrying around devices that constantly spy on us even when they’re off: Big Brother is watching. That’s been done to death. This … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Basal Ingredients Of Society • 1
What was it called? — spinthariscope? — a bit of apparatus I got in a science kit as a kid … I might as well jump in medias res … Re: Michael Hays • How to Fix the College Debt … Continue reading →

September 01, 2015

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8:37 PM | How to cite conference proceedings published as journal issues
Publishing conference proceedings and other kinds of edited collections as special issues of journals has a long history. But lately (partly as a reaction to perceived shortcomings of the more traditional CS system of publishing a preliminary version of a paper in a conference and then a full version in a journal) there's been increasing pressure to do this for more conferences. Which raises the question: how are we supposed to format these things in our bibliographies and bibtex files?Some […]
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5:10 PM | BMC looking to begin its second year
The Boise Math Circle is for local middle and high school students looking to connect with with the creative side of mathematics. We go outside many standard curriculums to explore fun and challenging topics. The goal is to give our participants little hints of modern math research and its applications. If you are curious about interacting with more math, then apply to join us! You can find a lot more information as well as an application form on our web site: boisemathcircles.org. Our first […]
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2:00 PM | Basal Ingredients Of Society • Prologue
I chose the acronym BIOS to suggest the vital elements of life in society, a life in association with others, and not just any form of association but one whose flickers of life are sustainable for more than a few … Continue reading →
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1:11 PM | The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics
The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics just appeared: It includes an introductory article on kinetic theory I wrote together with Cédric Villani, and many other interesting papers.Filed under: mathematical post Tagged: Boltzmann equation, kinetic theory
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4:33 AM | Linkage
The Tutte–Coxeter graph and its construction from the outer automorphisms of S6 (G+)Google's S2 spatial data structure (G+)Question: how many arXiv papers are updated to their final journal versions? (Answer: about half of them have non-empty journal-reference metadata; G+)Keleti's conjecture on the ratio of perimeter to area of a union of unit squares (G+)Reference for mixed graph acyclicity testing? (Still not adequately answered, but the bounty has since expired; G+)Purifying spoiled […]
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2:16 AM | The Paradox of Replication, and the vindication of the P-value (but she can go deeper) (i)
The Paradox of Replication Critic 1: It’s much too easy to get a small P-value. Critic 2: We find it very difficult to replicate small P-values; only 36 of 100 psychology experiments were found to replicate in the recent Open Science collaboration. Is it easy or is it hard? You might say, there’s no paradox, […]
Editor's Pick

August 31, 2015

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7:30 PM | 7 contro il caos
7 è un numero magico in molte culture. Quarto numero primo, era il numero di fanciulli e fanciulle che dovevano essere sacrificati al Minotauro, o il numero dei vizi capitali, e l'elenco potrebbe continuare ancora a lungo. 7 è, dunque, un numero molto importante, tanto che raggruppiamo i giorni in settimane (insieme di 7 giorni), ed è utilizzato spesso nel mondo della fiction sin dal mitico I 7 samurai di Akira Kurosawa.Dal film di Kurosawa in poi spesso i gruppi di eroi sono composti da 7 […]
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3:58 PM | The enigma of Robert Hooke
In 1675, Robert Hooke published the “true mathematical and mechanical form” for the shape of an ideal arch.  However, Hooke wrote the theory as an anagram, abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux. Its solution was never published in his lifetime.  What was the secret hiding … Continue reading →
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1:10 PM | Romeo and Juliet, through a Wormhole
Originally posted on 4 gravitons:Perimeter is hosting this year’s Mathematica Summer School on Theoretical Physics. The school is a mix of lectures on a topic in physics (this year, the phenomenon of quantum entanglement) and tips and tricks for using the symbolic calculation program Mathematica. Juan Maldacena is one of the lecturers, which gave me…
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3:26 AM | Two candidates that I want to see run for Democratic Nomination
It has been noted that while there are 17 Republican candidates for the nomination, of which 10 have been declared serious by FOX News via the first debate, there are far less democratic candidates for the nomination and only one has been declared serious by the powers that be. This may change if Biden runs. I want to suggest two Democrats who I think should run. They have not made ANY moves in that direction, so it won't happen... until they see that this blog post endorsing them and they […]
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1:20 AM | The GEB special issue from STOC, FOCS, and SODA 2011!
The first of a series of special issues from STOC, FOCS, and SODA has been published in Games and Economic Behavior; it contains papers invited from the 2011 conferences. The papers in the issue cover topics including mechanism design, the price of anarchy, networks, and learning in games. As the introduction to the special issue […]

August 30, 2015

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6:40 PM | The distance of the moon
Having just re-read the delightful Italo Calvino story of this name (which you can read here), I was also entranced by the following animation: Also: my take on the pronunciation of the name of the narrator: the first f is … Continue reading →
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4:30 PM | Pedagogy and Phrenology
Re: Gene V Glass • Why I Am No Longer a Measurement Specialist When I was learning research statistics, the standard cautionary tale on construct validity featured the foibles of Phrenology, the onetime pseudoscience that sought to psych out a … Continue reading →
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7:26 AM | The Inverse Cube Force Law
Here you see three planets. The blue planet is orbiting the Sun in a realistic way: it’s going around an ellipse. The other two are moving in and out just like the blue planet, so they all stay on the same circle. But they’re moving around this circle at different rates! The green planet is […]

August 29, 2015

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8:13 PM | Topolino #3118: misteri misteriosi
Come da consuetudine delle settimane precedenti, ecco la del numero di Topolino attualmente in edicola, assemblata integrando al testo utilizzato per la brevisione su LSB (che dovrebbe uscire domani) i commenti sul resto del sommario, che inizia con Paperink e il nipote ribelle.A differenza di quanto scritto nel titolo tale nipote non è Paperino, ma Felipe De Donlon y Pesetas, nipote di Dona Manuela Danarosa, introdotta da Marco Bosco, sceneggiatore de Il nipote ribelle, e Giorgio Cavazzano in […]
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7:26 PM | New CEA Overview of GDO
The U.S. Council of Economic Advisors has a nice new review of "Gross Domestic Output" (GDO), a simple average of expenditure- and income-side GDP estimates now published by the BEA.In an earlier post I wrote rather negatively about GDO as compared to GDPplus, which is an optimally-weighted blend rather than a simple average. (See the FRB Philadelphia GDPplus site and the corresponding Aruba et al. paper available there.) My view has not changed.But I want to be very clear […]
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2:49 PM | Meeting new people at ICFP
This afternoon I’ll be getting on a plane to Vancouver for ICFP. I’m looking forward to seeing many friends, of course, but I also enjoy meeting new people—whether or not they are “famous”, whether or not I think they can … Continue reading →
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