Weekly Picks

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s that time of the week! Let’s find you some reading material from last week’s mathematical blogosphere!

There was so much stuff, I’ll try the organized approach this time.

From the research department

From the general education part of town.

From the artistic side of mathematics.

Finally, a few shout outs


Small Database update

April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

We just added some new entries to our database– that’s 263 entries now.

So a quick shout out is in order.


Weekly update

April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Slowly we’re getting back into a weekly rhythm… What’s new?

We just deployed an updated version of our code to the app engine. (Un)fortunately, there’s nothing visible — yet.

After last week’s quota problems, we think we have identified and fixed the latest bug. If you care, here’s what happened. For safety reasons we had started to keep sanitized copies of each entry in the memcache (for things like PlanetMO). But some bloggers write such long posts that this increase blew the 1MB limit of GAE’s memcache. This in turn collided with the real bug — we had forgotten to catch such an error and good old GAE just retried to download and process such feeds indefinitely… Not too surprisingly, this led to an overload in incoming bandwidth and CPU-time.

So the only visible change with this update is that the “problematic” blogs (among them Timothy Gowers’s) are back in our database!

On the bright side, we are almost ready to release a couple of new features. So stay tuned for our next update (or hunt our code to find these easter eggs and let us know in the comments if you like what you see!).

Weekly Picks

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Welcome to last week’s picks. We had to skip a week — our apologies. We hope you’re all the more anxious to read some excellent mathematical blogging — let’s get started!

On Monday, James Colliander criticized the how broken the NSERC peer review is and was seconded by Izabella Laba at The Accidental Mathematician two days later; Tuesday was skipped.

Wednesday was rich of posts. At plus+magazine Marianne Freiberger gave you a fascinating post on combining CAPTCHA’s with chaotic dynamical systems for better and easier encryption, at Theoretical Atlas, Jeffrey Morton started from a paper on the Pioneer Anomaly and took it all the way to an insightful discussion of Agrippa’s Trilemma — great stuff. R.J. Lipton (on Gödel’s lost letter and P=NP) reminded you of how even Hamilton can guess wrong while Nuit Blanche’s Igor Carron convinced you why compressed sensing approach to CT shouldn’t be dismissed.

You thought nothing when Thursday started on a lighter note with reperiendi settling, once and for all, the old argument whether to believe in some form of the axiom of choice and Computational Complexity going off topic in class. But then John Baez hit you with a reminder how fascinating the genetic code is, even for the mathematically inclined, while Ben Webster served the first official PlanetMO-post at the Secret Blogging Seminar discussing his point of view on career questions on mathoverflow (only to follow up the next day with useful advice on job hunting in mathematical academia, excellent). As a perfect ending to a rich blogging day, Elizabeth Beazley at Mathematics&Statistics  made an excellent point comparing mathematics to English as a second language.

Slowing down on Friday, Math Is Not A Four Letter Word made a stand for ‘experience selling’ in math class and Spiked Math gave you an awesome strategy to freak out your students. For something only slighly more serious, The Renaissance Mathematicus gave you a little rant about Leonardo da Vinci.

Come Saturday, Mark at Observational Epidemiology gave you a 1minute video that summed up the everyday experience as a research mathematician while over at Images de Mathématiques Lucien Pirio gave the second part of an amazing series on Anamorphic Geometry (translation).  Then Multiplication by infinity hit you with mechanical Fourier transformations!

On Sunday, you just had to read R.J. Lipton’s writing about libraries at Gödel’s Lost letter and P=NP to finish the week.

Finally, a huge shout out to the prolific Gaussianos — 6000 feed subscribers. Wow!

New feature: Introducing PlanetMO

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, when bugs bring you  trouble, add more functionality! We are happy to announce a new feature on mathblogging.org: PlanetMO!

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on meta.mathoverflow regarding a possible ‘corner’ for discussions close to mathoverflow. The typical example is a question off topic for MO but nevertheless interesting. Where to go to have a discussion? And how to find those discussions?

Among the many tools that were mentioned, an_mo_user (who had started the thread) suggested a ‘Planet Mathoverflow’ similar to Planet Debian, Planet Gnome etc (and not to be confused with the encyclopedia PlanetMath). The idea would be that somebody who is interested in continuing the discussion of a closed question could simply write a blog post, post a link to that post in the comments of the question and moderate the discussion on the blog. Using a suitable tag, this blog post could appear on a Planet-like site. This would solve several problems: the discussion would  be clearly away from MO, there would be no need for general moderators since the blogger would be in charge and finally visibility of such discussions would be achieved through the planet.

After checking with Fred and Felix, I offered that we could realize such a PlanetMO on mathblogging.org. Thanks to Felix’s efforts and some co-operative fine tuning we are able to release this new feature into the wild today! On http://www.mathblogging.org/planetMO you can now check out (in full length) posts from bloggers in our database which were tagged with ‘mathoverflow’, ‘MO’ or ‘PlanetMO’ (although there are only a few right now).

We understand if people feel the full length is a little intrusive. We plan to restrict the Planet to the ‘PlanetMO’ tag soon so that people can use the ‘mathoverflow’-tag without appearing on PlanetMO. But to actually show the advantage of this feature, we are including the other tags for a couple of days.

We hope this feature is helpful, especially for the great community on mathoverflow!

The hidden bug strikes again

April 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

As you may or may not have noticed (at least, Ben Webster at the Secret Blogging Seminar has), we’ve had some problems on mathblogging.org — again.

It’s probably the same bug as last time — the signs are the same, CPU-ressources and incoming bandwidth are drained. For now we’re back online after I tuned the quota towards the “requirements” of this particular bug. That’s very annoying since otherwise we barely reach the free limit that Google gives us, but what can you do 😉

We’ll keep you updated here and on twitter.

Weekly update

April 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well, not much to say this time around (but we’re working on a cool new feature).

We were all rather busy but finally got around to adding some new blogs to our list.


Weekly Picks

April 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last weeks picks are running a little late — the new pile of great posts from this week is already daunting, time to get last week’s picks out there, quick and dirty.

Monday was incredibly rich: sketches of topology had some amazing eye candy for us, republic of math discussed (and ranted a little) about the future of mathematical textbooks, Computational Complexity mentioned the funniest voting system, the accidental mathematician explained why she isn’t on mathoverflow (and check the comments!) and Peter Cameron wrote a wonderful piece on dimensionality.

Tuesday wasn’t much less intense. At the AMS grad student blog, Tom Wright gave advice for campus interviews at grad schools, punk rock OR explained what OR teaches you about having a baby, Terry Tao posted an exemplary erratum on a paper, Women in mathematics (in Berlin) studied websites of fellow BMS grad students and James Colliander reminded us of Vannevar Bush.

Wednesday, Psychology and Statistics informed us how to ask Jeromy a statistics question — including a perfect how-to for stats.stackexchange that can serve just as well for mathoverflow (why has nobody wrote one before?).

On Thursday, Tany Khovanova raised the question whether we’re loosing female mathematicians, and, on a lighter note, Michael Trick appealed to the appeal of sports and OR.

Friday saw Vi Hart giving us a binary hand dance and an amazing April fools video posted at Math4Love.

Saturday, MathLog celebrated Max Ernst’s 120th birthday (translation), rudi matematici enjoyed explaining math awareness month in the US (translation) and everybody could congratulate Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicst to their 100.000 page views per month!

On Sunday, Xian’s Og gave us a piece on the memorial for Julian Besag.

Amazing writers are out there. Thank you very much.

Mathblogging.org downtime

April 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

As you might have noticed, we are experiencing some downtime on mathblogging.org — once again we’ve hit the limits of our bandwidth.

We’re looking into the causes and we’ll be back with an update as soon as possible.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


Update: We’re still not absolutely sure what happened.

The cause of our outage is simple: we had depleted our daily quota for both CPU hours and incoming bandwidth. That’s different from our previous downtime where the sudden popularity via yCombinator led to the depletion of our outgoing bandwidth.

From what we can see right now, two reasons come to mind. The plausible one is that our update last week came with a bug; we probably did not estimate the effect of the new functionality correctly. This thought is supported by the steady increase in bandwidth use since our update. In fact, we only now noticed two shorter outages that we missed both yesterday night and the night before that. Ironically, it might be that the bug came with our efforts to reduce bandwidth (via more efficient caching etc). But such is life.

The much less plausible scenario would involve blaming somebody else, i.e., somebody else’s misdirected script activated our (unprotected) update mechanism for the feeds; given what we can see so far, this scenario does not seem likely but who knows.

Right now we’ve just spend some time to write fixes for both scenarios. Local testing looked good, but we’ll have to wait until the daily quota resets in a couple of hours to see what the reality of things looks like.

We’re sorry if this caused anybody any inconvenience. We’ll keep you updated here and on twitter.

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