Mathematical Instruments: Laura McLay

December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mathematical Instruments.

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of a series in which we introduce you to some of the math bloggers listed on our site. Note that the Instruments will be on holidays and will return in 3 weeks. But today:

Laura McLay — Punk Rock OR

What’s your blog’s name? Any other places we can find you on (Twitter, Google+, Facebook etc)?

Punk Rock Operations Research. I’m on twitter, Google+, and FaceBook.

Would you tell us a little bit more about yourself?  E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your background?  Any scientific education?

I am a professor of operations research with a PhD in Industrial Engineering. I am also a wife and mother to three girls. I grew up in suburban Chicago and live in Richmond, VA now. My background is evident in my blog posts.

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs?

Honestly, after I started writing one (for the most part). Most of the OR blogs that I read did not exist when I started blogging. We have a wonderful community now.

When did you start blogging?

April 2007.

Why did you start?

My real motivation for starting a blog was to use it as a platform to somewhat selfishly evangelize students about operations research. I found it difficult to find students inclined to study OR in my department of Statistics and Operations Research in a college of humanities. I naively thought that if I started a blog, students at my university would read it and want to perform research with me and pursue an MS in operations research. That did not happen, but I have no regrets. I love blogging.

What do you write about?

Lots of things. Maintaining a blog is hard. I like to write about how the world can be improved through operations research and math modeling.  I am known for writing about women in the STEM fields. Whenever possible, I write about vampires, zombies, and werewolves (as they relate to operations research, of course!).

Mathematicians on the web have…

An imperative to improve mathematical and scientific literacy in the general public. If we don’t, someone will write an op-ed arguing to do away with algebra requirements in college (Oh wait, that already happened!).

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

I mostly read articles that my tweeps have recommended. And the Blog of Unnecessary Quotations Marks when I need a little pick-me-up.

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Mathblogging.org — The Blog by mathblogging.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.mathblogging.org.

Mathematical Instruments: Haggis the Sheep

December 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mathematical Instruments.

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of the series Mathematical Instruments in which we introduce you to some of the math bloggers listed on our site. Today:

Haggis the Sheep

What’s your blog’s name? Any other places we can find you on (Twitter, Google+, Facebook etc)?

1) Knot your average sheep…
2) What’s on my blackboard?
I’m on Twitter as @haggismaths.

Would you tell us a little bit more about yourself?  E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your background?  Any scientific education?

I live in Edinburgh with my partner-in-crime Julia Collins, who is the Maths Engagement Officer at the Edinburgh University maths department. We finished our PhD in Knot Theory last May and now spend most of our time doing science communication (public lectures, science festivals, school talks, art-science things) and research communication (i.e. telling the world about the great research going on at Edinburgh). Julia also does some undergraduate lecturing and I often make her put sheep-related questions in her problem sheets. :-)

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs?

I’m not sure how to answer this question.

When did you start blogging?

According to WordPress:
1) 25th May 2009
2) 21st June 2011

Why did you start?

1) I wanted to have a place where I could tell people about all the cool maths I learnt, the lovely mathsy people I met, ideas I had for maths communication and interesting places that I travelled to. One of my first posts was a rant about how one of the curators at the National Museum of Scotland told me that maths was boring, but usually my posts are more full of happiness than angriness.

2) Working in a maths department I’ve come to take it for granted that every day I will see blackboards filled with incomprehensible symbols, beautiful pictures and strange words. One day, after seeing a particularly nice picture on the board in my office, I decided that it was about time to share these works of art with the rest of the world!

What do you write about?

1) See previous answer! I write about any sort of interesting experience of seeing, hearing, doing or communicating maths. Often it’s about events I set up myself, such as the Edinburgh Mathsjam, school talks, science festivals or crafty workshops, but sometimes it’s about maths I see on TV or places I’ve travelled with unexpected maths (e.g. the Vatican in Rome). I’m open to suggestions on things to write about!

2) I post up photos of interesting black/whiteboards, sometimes taken by me around the Edinburgh maths department and sometimes sent in by people around the world. Underneath each picture I write a short caption of what the maths is about or a story behind the board itself. If you have a blackboard photo, please send it in to me! It doesn’t have to be a beautiful work of art – it can be a total mess of scribbles, so long as it means something interesting to you!

What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet?

Without the internet, I doubt I would get recognised by random people I’ve never met before. That’s not bad going for a stuffed sheep. More seriously, there are a lot of great events happening to promote maths which I wouldn’t have heard of or been able to get involved with, and a huge number of wonderful maths enthusiasts I’d never have met. For example, the MathsJam community is very much held together by Twitter where we share our favourite puzzles and games every month.

What does the internet need more of?

People leaving comments on blogs. Seriously, I get over 100 views every day, and maybe 2 comments per blog post if I’m lucky. Say something, people!

Mathematicians on the web have…

Not enough of a presence. Whilst there is a good community of people promoting maths and science, I think there are not enough maths researchers out there who are willing to talk about what they’re working on or how it feels to be a mathematician. I know that research-level maths can often be very hard to explain, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

I love the web comics xkcd, Abstruse Goose and PhD Comics. I check up on the BBC News website a few times a day. Twitter – far too often! Richard Wiseman does a weekly puzzle (on Fridays) which are often worth a look. And the Aperiodical is a great new blog for keeping up to date with maths news and interesting articles. But mostly my web reading consists of whatever Twitter points me to!

Creative Commons License
Mathblogging.org — The Blog by mathblogging.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.mathblogging.org.

Mathematical Instruments: Guillermo Bautista

December 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

Mathematical Instruments.

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of the series Mathematical Instruments in which we introduce you to some of the math bloggers listed on our site. Today:

Guillermo Bautista — Math&Multimedia and many more

Any places like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. we can find you on?

My main Twitter account is @jr_bautista. I have also several blogs and every blog has its own Twitter account. I am also on Google+.

Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?  E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?

I am from the Philippines. I have a BS in Computer Science and an M.A in Mathematics. I work at the UP NISMED at University of the Philippines (Diliman Campus). UP NISMED is involved in teacher trainings, curriculum materials development, and educational research. I specialize on the integration of technology in teaching mathematics.

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs?

I know about mathematical blogs since 2003 I think.

When did you start blogging?

I think I started in 2003 when I was in the undergraduate. I had a blog in Friendster but it was not really a math blog. It was a blog with miscellany of topics and several math posts.

Why did you start?

I just want to write about my thoughts and share it with my friends.

What do you write about?

I write about school mathematics and technology in my Mathematics and Multimedia blog. I  also write about math appreciation in The Mathematical Palette. I explain mathematical proofs in Proofs from the Book.

What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet?

Well, I would have wasted a lot of time and I wouldn’t have learned this much.

What does the internet need more of?

People who comment responsibly on controversial issues.

Mathematicians on the web have…

opened opportunities to a lot of non-technical people.

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

I read Yahoo News, Science Daily, Reader’s Digest, Twitter, and Facebook Feeds.

Creative Commons License
Mathblogging.org — The Blog by mathblogging.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.mathblogging.org.

A short service announcement

December 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

While we have about 700 blogs in our database, we are happy that we get a few more every week! But if you have submitted a blog recently, you might be wondering why your submission didn’t show up yet. Let me try to convince you not to give up hope and to stick around for what is about to happen with mathblogging.org. (If you only have 2 more seconds to read this post, jump to the end now.)

One reason for delays we had to give repeatedly in the past was that we are only three volunteers, and our jobs sometimes too often keep us from doing the maintenance that the website and database need. We want to resolve this for good, and we think we have found just the way that will additionally improve what mathblogging.org has to offer.

When we started the website, we didn’t have a clear idea of what it should become; what we thought of can maybe be described as a phone-book for mathematical blogs. Moving forward, it became clear that just listing blogs alphabetically would not provide the service we wanted, so we started experimenting with the representation of the data we collect from the RSS-feeds of the blogs. But, not surprisingly, all our naive efforts in this direction (while well received) did not get half as much positive feedback as the editorial work that went into the weekly picks on this blog and the “hourly picks” on twitter.

Incidentally, the awesome people over at scienceblogging.org (now ScienceSeeker.org) went into a similar direction in rewriting their website from a simple list of blogs to a more dynamic collection with a lot of editorial aspects. And awesome as they are, they publish their SubjectSeeker-code under an open source license!

So we will move away from writing the code for mathblogging.org ourselves, and focus more on editorial challenges. This will also mean that we can have more editors!

At the moment we are busy setting up the new site, and making sure that as much of the old data as possible is transferred. If you are itching to find out what the new website will look and feel like, you can now take a look at the public beta-version! Be sure to let us know what you think about it.

On the downside, this unfortunately also means that right now we have even less time for maintenance of the current site.

We will restrain from giving any precise prediction as to when the new site goes officially up; this post is to let you know that we are still here, that mathblogging.org is not going to be abandoned, and to allow you a sneak-peak at the new design.

tl;dr: New website is coming, even if it looks like nothing is happening right now.

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