Archive for the ‘academia’ Category

Cédric Villani and other academics at Assemblée Nationale

June 25, 2017

[Posted on june 25, 2017.]

Some observations on the newly elected members of Assemblée Nationale:

***

In other news:

  • Jean-Pierre Kahane passed away at 90
  • Peter Scholze, who has recently been elected to the Leopoldina, has a recent preprint titled Étale cohomology of diamonds which is not yet on the arXiv.
  • a 10-year-old in Cameroon who enjoys math is nearing the end of the high school curriculum there, hopefully he’ll then get the University-level education he deserves (and surely he’s not the only one)
  • I’ve updated my list of Diamond OA journals in mathematics to include Acta Mathematica and Arkiv för Matematik
  • a strange editor’s note in the current issue of Annals of Mathematics, whereby they withdraw a 2001 paper without saying why, and it appears that the paper was never cited in the 16 ensuing years (at least according to google scholar), which is very odd.[update: see this story on Retraction Watch (h/t anon)]

Paris, France by Bob Hall on flickr

The currency of mathematics: ideas vs proofs

February 12, 2017

[Posted on february 12, 2017.]

Quanta magazine has come up with yet another stellar wide-audience article, this time by Kevin Hartnett on the work of several authors in symplectic geometry.

It contains this great quote by Mohammed Abouzaid:

There are two conceptions of mathematics,” Abouzaid said. “There’s mathematics as: The currency of mathematics is ideas. And there’s mathematics as: The currency of mathematics is proofs. It’s hard for me to say on which side people stand. My personal attitude is: The most important thing in mathematics is ideas, and the proofs are there to make sure the ideas don’t go astray.

It’s probably the most reasonable take on that topic.

Now what are other areas of mathematics that have been impacted by these two conceptions in recent years? Of course, the work of Perelman and the controversy with the Cao-Zhu paper quickly comes to mind, but this was then modified by Cao-Zhu within a few months so that the ideas-conception won in that instance.

Are there others, either form the distant past or the recent few years? Feel free to mention any, that’s be insteresting to study.

The mooring line, by Bernard Spragg NZ on flickr

Mirzakhani, Lindenstrauss, Witten, McMullen, Zelmanov sign petition against Trump’s immigration EO

January 28, 2017

[Posted on january 28, 2017.]

Fields Medalists Maryam Mirzakhani, Elon Lindenstrauss, Curtis T. McMullen, Edward Witten and Efim Zelmanov are, with several other prominent US-based mathematicians, among the earliest signatories of the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order petition, and well done to them ! [Edit: Terence Tao and Vladimir Voevodsky also signed.][Further edit: so have Pierre Deligne, Vladimir Drinfeld and Andrei Okounkov.] [Further edit: the members of the Board of Trustees of the AMS also signed and issued a statement.]

All Cedram journals are now Diamond Open Access

January 17, 2017

[Posted on january 17, 2017.]

As mentionned previously on this blog, starting this month all Cedram journals are now Diamond Open Access, so it adds Annales de la Faculté des Sciences de ToulouseAnnales Mathématiques Blaise Pascal, and  Journal de Théorie des Nombres de Bordeaux to the others.  A fantastic piece of news, and I’ve updated my list of DOA Mathematics Journals to reflect this.

***

In other news:

  •  Olivia Caramello has put online her recent HDR Thesis as well as the (very laudatory) referee report
  • Notices of the AMS has a nice piece by Henry Cohn on the sphere packing breakthrough
  • talks by Emmanuel Lepage and by Wojtek Porowski on Shinichi Mochizuki’s IUT are taking place in Nottingham

Cliffs of Moher by khdc on flickr

(Alternative title: ‘compromise’ is not a swear word)

AMS data on the backlog of math journals

November 11, 2016

[Posted on november 11, 2016.]

Since every year in november a new batch of data regarding the backlogs of mathematics research journals is published in Notices of the AMS, let’s look at this a little. Here is the data from the past 6 years : 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Now, while backlogs are one thing, perhaps the most significant column is “Median Time (in months) from Submission to Final Acceptance”. The results for a subjective selection of some of the most well-known titles are as follows (click to enlarge) :

some_ams_data_backlog_math_journals

Those median times are thus usually very steady and under 12 months, which is conforting, but with some occasional sudden marked increases for the very select journals that can reach 20 months, which can be a problem for young folks on the job market…

Are there important informations from the whole data worth mentioning beyond this? Comments welcome.

***

In other news, some items noticed recently :

  • there will be a Gabberfest next june at IHÉS with an A-list of speakers (there are several anecdotes about Gabber’s aura on the web, whether on MO or blogs)
  • next summer at the Newton Institute is due to take place a promising Big Proofs Programme aimed “at the challenges of bringing proof technology into mainstream mathematical practice
  • the Institut Fourier turns 50
  • the 5th digit in arXiv identifiers was used fo the first time last month, the counter reaching 10100
  • integral calculus was performed for the first time by Leibnitz on this very day, some 341 years ago
  • some people are remarkably versatile: Pierre Jalinière’s very recent PhD Thesis deals with “three independent works in cryptography, p-adic Hodge theory and Numerical analysis“!

Heart-shaped devotion by Marneejill on flickr

(which, for some reason, I’m inclined to rename as Two Americas…)

Some august 2016 news: Epiga, mathinfoly, …

August 8, 2016

[Posted on august 8, 2016.]

  • The first mathematics journal produced by Episciences.org, a platform for arXiv overlay journals, has been listed recently. It is Epiga, which stands for Épijournal de Géométrie Algébrique.  (Well, technically there is also the Hardy-Ramanujan journal, which previously existed as a paper journal and which adopted the Episciences platform in 2014, but it hasn’t published anything  for a year and a half.)    The editorial board of Epiga looks like it contains many very distinghuised people, so while it has not published any papers yet, it will probably be a high-quality journal. Let’s see how that pans out…
  • Jumping to another topic, it is fantastic that a summer school for interested high-schoolers, mathinfoly2016, will take place in a fortnight at ENS Lyon : the set of speakers looks great and diverse (and it includes in particular recent EMS prize winner Vincent Calvez). The courses will be completely in french (which is better for that age group I think).
  • At CIRM the semester on Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems and their Applications to Number Theory (within the setting of a Jean Molet Chair to Mariusz Lemańczyk) has just started.    One can still register to the december conference (which has an impressive list of speakers and a scientific comitee that includes Artur Avila–is he turning his powers to Number Theory? That would be great!) as well as to the doctoral school (deadline early september).
  • Finally there’s a nice portrait here of Jean-Pierre Serre, who turns 90 this year, on the occasion of a talk he gave last month in Bordeaux. He still has “projects in the fridge”!

Pic du Cap Roux, Antheor Saint-Raphael, by Cedric Biennais on flickr

Consequences of Brexit on mathematics

June 30, 2016

[Posted on june 30, 2016]

Like many observers, I have been quite stunned by the result. So, even though I have no legitimaticy for this (as I’m not an academic — I do have a british PhD but to some Leavers this is a bias), I’m posting this to gather opinions on possible impacts of Brexit on mathematics : both straightforward ones and chain reactions. I’d like in particular to explore how to mitigate the effects of the negative ones.

For general issues beyond mathematics there are several relevant articles in the THES : on EU grant application, (and that earlier one) and on non-british students and academics. (Edit 02 july: see also these frightening figures for Cambridge alone). As yet, Article 50 has not been triggered, so what follows only makes sense under the hypothesis that at some point before the end of the year it will.

1) Clearly one specific issue for mathematics is the health and standing of the UK math departments :

1.a) what is the share of EU-funded Postdocs and Postgraduates students there ? In particular what are the numbers in the very select places like Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, Warwick… ?

1.b) what is the annual share of EU-funded conferences ?

How to mitigate a potentially complete stop to both funding and free movement ? Might a form of dual diplomas and dual conference system work (systematically coupling things with an EU partner that has funding)  ?

2) One possible ripple effect is the movement of academics to nearby EU countries (or Switzerland) to follow that pool of students and postdocs :

2.a) which continental places would likely benefit, and would they actively try to lure away UK-based mathematicians ?

2.b) what about the US and Canada, is brexit seen as an opportunity there to recruit UK-based mathematicians ?

3) Are there specific mathematics-related issues not mentioned above ?

(Note: the comments to this post will go to the moderation queue, which I can review about twice a day usually).

Brexit logo by swissbert on flickr

Late april items

April 30, 2016

[Posted on april 30, 2016]

In no particular order :

  • the latest issue of Gazette de Mathematiciens has just appeared, it  includes an introduction to the Berkovich line by Jérôme Poineau, and also part of an exchange between Alice Jacquet and Claire Mathieu on the work of the latter and her collaborators on the emergence of a glass ceiling in social networks (here is the paper of Mathieu et al itself, and note also a talk about this at BNF next month) among lots of other things
  • Claire Voisin has very recently been elected to the newly created Chaire de Géométrie Algébrique du Collège de France
  • an article from the Harvard Crimson about tenure choices in the math departement
  • a curious case of nearly full Open Access : Elsevier-owned Comptes Rendus Mathématiques will henceforth provide some of its articles for free, for that the corresponding author must have a french affiliation (technically, an email at an insitution based in France) otherwise the article will stay behind a paywall for readers but with the strange and fortunate freedom to post the final pdf on the institutional server of the authors (but not on a preprint server for 3 years).
  • the Spiegel has recently featured Peter Scholze (behind a paywall)

Low clouds over the lake, by claudiadea131 on flickr

Errata in the age of Open Access journals

January 31, 2016

[Posted on january 31, 2016]

Nearly nine years ago (time flies!) on this blog I wondered aloud about errors in mathematical papers (errors that are made even by the best authors, in the best journals with very competent referees), and the problem of the subsequent errata that are possibly being missed by readers (at least for a good few months maybe). So I proposed at the time as a solution a centralised system listing all errata in a single place.

In the meantime, MO was born, and I asked there a question about when to take published results for granted at all, the consensus seemingly being: never.

So in the world (indeed, the era) of paper journals, it was hoped that the readers would find the erratum early enough that it doesn’t affect too nastily any work building on the problematic proofs. But in the age of Open Access online journals, one might wish things to change a bit.

To wit, the Open Access Electronic-only journal Algebraic Geometry has issued its first erratum at the end of last year. But, as of today, if one downloads the original paper, nothing warns the reader about the erratum.

Wouldn’t it be wise, and very feasible technically, to add above the title in the pdf of the original article a note like “an erratum for this paper has been issued” with a link to it ?

Mid-summer bits and pieces

August 8, 2015

1) There exists a handy map of french Masters in mathematics (note that it’s obviously too late to apply for this year in most cases).  I wonder if such a map exists in other countries.

2) Some people are really great speakers, here are two examples with 15 minutes proofs in videos at the upper undergraduate level :

  •  Dror Bar-Natan on Arnold’s version of Abel-Galois non-resolubility of the quintic
  •  Benson Farb on the Poincaré-Hopf index theorem

3) as an outsider, I’ve never understood the incredibly one-sided voting results of SMF elections : here they are for 2015, then 2014, and 2013. Anyhow, there’s about 500 to 600 people involed in pure maths in France these days then (yes, some people won’t vote or are not members, but still it’s probably the right order of magnitude).