Weekly almost-update

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Are we there yet?

Our re-write is complete. We’re testing the our code whenever we find time, but if all goes well, the new code will go online this weekend (and we will, of course, post about this here). There are some minor bugs we still need to hunt down and some cosmetic changes to fix.

All in all, we’re very excited to see if the code behaves as expected once it’s live. If all goes according to plan, virtually nothing will change on the surface of mathblogging.org, but things will finally become smoother under the hood.

We’ll keep you updated!

Weekly Picks

July 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The new week is in full swing but some picks from last week might just be worth your while.

To start off the week, Computational Complexity investigated the myth that good logicians were mentally ill while The Secret Blogging Seminar discussed Doron Zeilberger’s idea for making grant proposals public.

You’d think that blogging spiked on Tuesday. First, emergent math was knocked off the pedestal thanks to a challenging lecture by Alfie Kohn and quomodocumque threw in the proverbial 2 cents about math competitions — including a grueling quote. But there was also Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference and Social Science picking up a piece about the Barber’s paradox of economists while Rhapsody in Numbers wondered about a young woman that wants to be the first on Mars.

Indeed, Wednesday was much calmer, although The Mathematics Blog saw the practical effects of increased tuition at Open University.

But then Thursday came and a flood of great posts came in. On the non-English side, Series Divergentes portrayed John E. Littlewood (translation),  Gaussianos wrote about the magical appearances of Gauss’s Theorem (translation) and Bloghetto started a new series on Pythagoras (translation).

Then Shtetl Optimized gave a simple proof of Rosser’s Theorem using Turing Machines and John D. Cook saw a divide in how programmers and scientists view their software.

Also, you should consider Noncommutative Geometry’s call for support against the re-organization of the Feza Gursey Insititute in Istanbul and Maxwell’s Demon’s call for mathematicians to get involved in preschool mathematics education.

Friday was more relaxed with Gyre&Gimble improving its Riemann Clouds visualization, Mr Honner celebrating a small victory for consistent pricing and Peter Cameron writing about a recent meeting with Anatoly Vershik.

On Saturday, MIXEDMATH tried to give away a journal collection — harder then you think — while Terry Tao gave an introduction to the Erdös divisor bound.

Come Sunday, Psychology and Statistics offered career advice for undergraduate studies in organizational psychology while Mr Palomar tabu walked with a friend (translation).


Weekly non-update

July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

We thought you wouldn’t mind if we updated you a little on our coding work.

Yesterday we had one of your almost-weekly meetings, working across the big pond to work on the code. It has been four weeks since we started working on this major update.  As it turns out the better description would be “complete re-write”.

Since mathblogging.org is our fun project and we’re all doing mathematical research to make a living, we don’t have a lot of time to work on the code. We realize that this is sometimes an inconvenience for the community, especially those 100 blogs that have been stuck in our delayed database update. As we wrote before, the size of the database as brought our puny amateur code to the breaking point. We cannot update the database before we finish this re-write or else the site will become very unreliable. Again, we’re sorry for any inconvenience that is already apparent (such as the infamous “white boxes” in the “by type” view).

The good news is that we’ve had a sort of debugging breakthrough yesterday when we finally solved a few major problems, getting the date view and type view going again. Next week we’re hoping to finish the debugging. We will test for at least one week locally before we push the update. So if all goes well, the biggest update so far (hey, we might even drop the “beta” 😉 ) will be finished this month.

Weekly Picks

July 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

Welcome to this weeks edition of our weekly picks!

Let’s start with some must-reads:

One reason we love blogs is because it is an excellent way to tell others about misconceptions you discovered. It this spirit Numbers Rule Your World explains why Groupon doesn’t have to fear copycats but instead too many dealseekers, and Peter Cameron takes another go on explaining that there are basically two kinds of statisticians, and that you should take care of which kind the result is that you want to use.

Speaking of misconceptions, there were several posts about the difficulties with teaching math last week: David M. Bressoud writes why lectures are not a good tool for teaching, which was picked up and extended by Learning and Teaching Math. That the way math is taught is sometimes far from ideal was also expressed by entertaining but also saddening comparisons by reflectivemathsteacher Dave Gale and several people on twitter (as a sidenote, here’s a cool example on how to visualize a conversation on twitter in a nonlinear way), and exzuberant joins the choir, with a slight twist. If you are wondering how we can do better, maybe Conrad Wolfram in this interview you can see on Wild About Math! has some ideas for you. Also dy/dan (and commenters) muse about how to make stereotypical problems more appealing, while digitizor has found one nice example how this can be done (via la covacha mathemática). Here’s even more from emergent math. Also, do we really need all these days commemorating constants?

But there were also more cheerful posts about beautiful mathematics: Xamuel.com writes about the elegant old proof of the infinitude of primes and how fast one can get to unknown territory from there, Concrete Nonsense remembers the application of Cantor’s diagonal argument to prove the existence of undecidable problems in computer science, Mathlog tells us about the article “the unplanned impact of mathematics” (translation), Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist explains integral transforms, and Gyre&Gimble explains why diagrams might be the more natural way to talk about finite fields.

One focus of our interest is how blogging can help math (and the people learning and practicing it), see Peter’s post on how we should improve our homepages. But if you have a long series of posts on the same subject, then maybe the tutorial of neverendingbooks on how to turn wordpress posts into an epublishing is for you (BTW, you might have wondered what happened to his posts on the Bourbaki code). One step further is FlowingData, with publishing his book Visualize This (congrats!). And for the more interactive parts of research one could maybe experiment with the tools of google+? To name just a few, Machine Learning, etc already found a lot of ML people there, math mama writes was skeptical but then also joined, and so has 0xDE.

This is getting rather long, but here are some more finds:

Phew! And this was of course by far not even close to all that was going on last week. These are just our picks, feel free to find your own on mathblogging.org, and, as always:


Weekly Picks

July 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well it’s already Wednesday — time for some delayed picks from last week!

On the education side of blogging, Angles of Reflection wonders about data resistanceRe-educate Seattle discusses giving tests while students remember the material.

On the research community side of bloggging, Mathoverflow had a good meta-debate about a series of closed posts, Piece of mind recorded personal and professional impressions from the conference in honor of Chang-Shou Lin. Also, Xi’an’s Og did some public refereeing, the Secret Blogging Seminar discusses Elsevier’s newest service and Images des mathématiques logged five days in the life of a mathematician (translation).

On the research side of blogging, Dropsea did some researchblogging about a biological solution to the maximal independent set problem (translation), Built On Facts imagines how relativitiy could have been discovered in the 1860s, Xor’s Hammer is back from a long break and writes about logical interpretations of topology and Good Math, Bad Math talks about code review which seems to apply to all parts of life.

Short notes:


Mid-week non-update

July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

As you may have noticed, we haven’t updated the code and the database of mathblogging.org in a while. We thought you might be interested in what’s going on.

A big update in the working

We’re currently rewriting the core of our code. As you may have noticed, our code has come to its limits. Since the last database update (to now 370 sources!) the infamous “white boxes” have appeared much more frequently on mathblogging.org/bytype. These “white boxes” usually appear when the fetching process times out. More annoyingly, this means that the feeds are not collected which affects our other pages. Especially our own feeds (which a lot of people are using regularly) are sometimes swamped with entries when the fetching of a single blog suddenly works after timing out for a couple of days.

The recent increase of these timeouts told us that our implementation has really come to a limit. It was time to rewrite it and finally start storing everything properly for more reliable access by the dynamically generated pages.

Not only will this rewrite make mathblogging.org more reliable. It will also improve our pages in general; especially mathblogging.org/bystats and PlanetTAG  will offer better results.

Well, at least that’s what we hope. Yesterday, we finished the basic re-write and started debugging… So gives us a few more days months years 😉

The database update delayed

As we tweeted yesterday, we have collected ~100 new entries for mathblogging.org. But we have decided not to update the database before the code has been improved. As explained above, the problems on mathblogging.org are due to the increased size of the database. If we added  a hundred blogs now, things would most likely get much worse.

So if you want us to add your blog, do let us know! We will let you know that we’ve seen it, but please: be patient! Our reply means that we added your blog to our upcoming database update and so your blog will appear on mathblogging.org as soon as the update goes live.

But please don’t make us feel worse than we already do for such a backlog. We are, after all, working on mathblogging.org in our spare time and sometimes we actually do need to work for a living on our research.

Weekly Picks

July 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Almost Wednesday — time for some Weekly Picks!

On the applied side, O.R. by the Beach had a mini-series in the form of a Star Trek comicUnderstanding Uncertainty looked at entropy and Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference and Social Sciences summed up its philosophy of Bayesian data analysis; for useful reference, Statisfaction collected links to non-profit data science associations.

On the pure side, Gaussiano had an excellent guest post by Clara Grima giving an introduction to computational geometry (translation), The Geomblog remembers the late Bob Morris and his stream algorithms and Gli studenti oggi started a socratic miniseries on Greek Geometry (translations 1,2,3,4).

On the general research side, Doron Zeilberger shared an opinion about Grant proposalsPiece of Mind criticized NSERC’s evidence-based-decision-making as decision-based-evidence-making and The AMS Grad Student Blog shared an insightful post on gender, race and sexuality in Mathematics (they are also looking for new writers).

On the teacher side, f(t) took part in a virtual blogging conference on core values writing about making mistakes.

On the fun side, Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folk played Dollar Nim with the kids and Travels in a Mathematical World participated at the East Midlands Big Bang Fair


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