Pre workout thoughts: graphic software and North Korea …

Just so you know where Korea and Guam are; many Americans do not.

I am not worried about North Korea attacking the United States; having a reliable ICBM with a miniaturized warhead is a huge technological task. But a new Korean war would be a human disaster for not only Korea but possibly for those in Japan and other nearby states. The first one devastated Korea, burned down almost every major town and killed more than 1,000,000 people.

In times such as these, I want cool heads to prevail.

Graphic software: in the days of old, if you wanted to get a mathematics paper published, you’d send out the paper, get it refereed, and if it was accepted, technical typists and artists would write up the paper and you would review it.

Now, it is up to the author to type set it (I can do is a minor pain) and draw it…and well, it is tough to make good drawings with just “Paint”. I am trying to learn Inkscape and am running out of patience. I am sure I will be a pro when I finally learn it but ugh…that isn’t how I want to spend my time.

Workout notes: yesterday, 8 miles of hills; untimed but it was a steady effort. Great weather for it; I could not make myself go into the gym to do timed laps.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, politics, walking, world events | | Leave a comment

low energy all around but life is good

I was sort of low energy today. I slept in..that felt good but I still had time for 10 miles:

My time: 2:33…15-15:10 mpm. Not much energy but I got it in.

Then I had lunch with Tracy and assembled a chest of draws for her; I am just terribly incompetent.

By the time I was done…I was tired and resolved to go home and rest..I had given up on making the Chiefs game; it was 5:45 and the Chiefs game started at 6:30. But I said…”what the hell” and left the house at just before 6.

I had time to get a ticket, get a cheeseburger and watch the game (3-1 Timber Rattlers winning; 2 run home run and then an insurance run in the top of the 9’th).

Contrast the above to the 7 dollar ticket that I got for Friday night’s White Sox vs. Cleveland game:

It was a full, if unproductive, day.

I have much to write about, re: my Chicago trip, but this trip, my nights were taken up by 2 White Sox games (one with a buddy) and travel. I also had a very pleasant lunch with a friend.

With Pat at the Cubs vs. White Sox game (Cubs won 6-3; good game though)

Our view (better than the other one)

Michelle agreed to go to lunch; I had not seen her since 1974 (in Yokota High School, Yokota Air Force Base, Japan). I played football with her brother Johnny.

I walked a bit; I did two Lakeshore path courses. This is from Northerly Island. You can see some of the skyline and Soldier Field.

From below the Shedd Aquarium

There was some great mathematics too. There were a couple of talks I wish that I had prior to teaching certain courses, and one that I wish that I had early in graduate school.

This is Dusa McDuff. She was the main speaker and gave three great talks. She is a professor at Columbia and..a member of the National Academy of Science (a very elite list, very elite; most Ivy league faculty do not make it). And yet..she rode the L to get to the airport. Someone of her accomplishment in, say, economics, would have been given a personal limo.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | baseball, Friends, mathematics, travel, walking | , , | 1 Comment

A bit of fun…

I’ll say something about the Sessions testimony (lying sack of….) and the shooting of the Congressman (deplorable, but where was the GOP calling for “toning it down” when Giffords was shot?)

But for now, something pleasant:

From here:

Ok. Suppose you choose at random. A and D are the same answer, so you can choose A/D, B or C. So you have a 50 percent chance of hitting A/D or not. That means that the correct answer is 50 percent, (B) but you have a 25 percent chance of selecting B with a purely random selection, which puts you back in the A/D or “not A/D” which puts us back to 50 percent….
and so on.

This is a version of the “this sentence is a lie” paradox (a statement that can’t be assigned a truth value); there is no correct answer to the question.

Workout notes
rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10: went well), incline presses: 10 x 135, 5 x 160 (good..decent hips), 6 x 150, military: 15 x 55 seated, supported, 10 x 50 standing, 10 x 40 standing. One arm rows: 2 sets of 10 x 50, 10 x 60

Then a treadmill run: 2-2-2-2 to 8 minutes, (5.2-5.5), then up 2 (6.7-7.0, last 2 minutes were 7.1 to 19:12 (2 miles), 7.2 to 20 minutes (2.1 miles). That was harder than usual.
Then goblet squats: 50, 50, 60, 65, 70, 70 (sets of 5)

June 14, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, running, weight training | | Leave a comment

A good reason to take a calculus of variations course

What is going on here? One path is shorter but ..


March 6, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, physics | 1 Comment

Why I usually don’t like math/science movies that *should* interest me

I kind of cringed when my wife wanted to take me to see Hidden Figures, a story about 3 black women who worked as engineers/mathematicians/programmers for NASA.

Oh do not get me wrong; these women were crazy-good; they would not have had their jobs at that time in US history (or at any time for that matter) if they weren’t, and their story deserves to be told to a wide audience. No argument there.

And yes, movies are not documentaries; there is going to be some embellishment, rearranging incidents to make a better story, and of course the “mathematics” that they would show would be mostly math jargon used out of context. And I was not disappointed though one scene showed Schrodinger’s equation on the blackboard (and ironically, I often teach Euler’s method in differential equations class, as well as Graham-Schmidt in linear algebra).

But there were many other errors; they described NASA as being segregated at a time when it was not, and they showed that one of the ladies as not being allowed to author a report, as she actually did. And the computer supervisor got that title in 1948, not 1961 (so here, real life was even more impressive than the movie).

And yes, a small kid factoring a polynomial with integer coefficients is moderately impressive, though not what most would call a prodigy; my guess is that the real person was able do much more than that.

But with all that being said, it was still a good movie (plot, excitement, suspense, relationships, and gives a reminder of our painful past). So by all means, see the movie; it IS well done. But expect some “liberal feel good, White Savior” bullshit, and remember that the real life women were actually *more* impressive than the movie shows. And if you know math, expect to wince from time to time.

You can find a “fact check” here.

Workout notes: Monday, easy 1 hour 5 mile hilly run (gentle pace)
Tuesday: same course, this time a walk after weights:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 good sets)
bench press: dumbbells, 10 x 70, 10 x 75, 10 x 80
incline press: dumbbells, 7 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45 (standing)
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
incline press: Hammer machine, 2 sets of 10 (45, then 70 each arm) then 1 sets of 7 with 90 (each arm; 180 total)
lots of sets of 5 squats, most with 45 pound plate…maybe 6-7?
2 sets of 10 x 250 leg presses
abs( 2 sets of 12 twist crunches, 10 leg lifts, 5 moving bridge
head stand (sort of unsteady for a while)
side planks: 30 seconds each.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, movies, running, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

In defense of “Safe Spaces” (of a type)

Ok, let me make it clear what I am not defending: while I understand male/female bathrooms and locker rooms, I do not approve of having a university sanctioned area where only men, or women, or someone of a specific race are allowed.

What I am talking about: voluntarily limiting one’s social circle when it comes to certain things.

Here is one instance: usually, I make it a point to never discuss mathematics except with other mathematically inclined people (mathematicians or experienced STEM field people).

Reason: I teach for a living, and correcting someone’s elementary error is not a pleasant exercise for me, especially when they try to insist that they are right.

This is not how I want to spend my “off work” time.

I broke my rule of thumb, and paid a small price. Here it is:

Prove: 1 = 2.

x^2 - x^2 = x^2 - x^2 Ok, true enough.

x(x-x) = (x+x)(x-x) Yes, this is true: (x+x)(x-x) = (x(x-x) + x(x-x)) = x^2 -x^2 +x^2 - x^2 = x^2 - x^2 . Yes, this also equals 2x^2 - 2 x^2 .

Now that we have x(x-x) = (x+x)(x-x) Cancel an x-x factor on each side.

This gives x = 2x which leads to 1=2 after cancelling the x.

Of course, this is wrong; we were not allowed to divide both sides by x-x as that is zero.

But someone tried to tell me that iwas ok to divide by zero even if the numerator did NOT go to zero…Oh boy.

February 27, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Why I mostly talk about topics on which I don’t know what I am talking about

Yes, I talk about the issues of the day; sometimes I am very noisy. Often the topics have a highly technical aspect of which I am ignorant. So, I tend to try to find out where “expert consensus” and go with them for my “base facts”. Often the debate is what to make of those facts. And sometimes one has to prioritize what they want (e. g. more safety for some vs. more liberty for others, etc.)

But there are a couple of items that I tend to NOT discuss in public: mathematics and mathematics education.
Yes, I have a modest publication record in mathematics (primarily in topology, though I have a couple of analysis papers too) and I’ve taught, in one form or another, since the summer of 1986. So I probably know more about teaching undergraduate mathematics (especially calculus) than anything else.

Yet, that is a topic that I tend to avoid, at least in public (social media).

The reasons are many.

Mathematics: at the research level, it is a highly technical field, and explaining research to those who don’t heave at least a master’s degree is all but pointless. Not only is the subject loaded with technical jargon (by necessity), but one needs some experience to even begin to understand why a particular question is interesting and worthy of investigation.

And, if you are not a mathematician, you’ll just have to trust me on this statement: most “popular explanations” of technical mathematics is TERRIBLE.

Mathematics education: most people have questions about grade school education, and I am not qualified to answer that. My experience has been with, say, teaching calculus to science, engineering or business students. These students have already met a qualifying process, and what works with them might not work with a less talented, less motivated bunch.

And there are the typical comments “I am smart but couldn’t learn math”, therefore “the teachers sucked” or “math is useless in real life” of “teachers need to be able to reach students who have “different ways of thinking”.
Frankly, I haven’t the patience to endure such conversations, hence i make a practice to avoid them.

I excuse myself from such conversations and let the “unappreciated smart people” talk among themselves.

I might talk to a non-specialist privately, but they have to be someone I really like and am already good friends with.

January 5, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, social/political | Leave a comment

Not so profound

Workout notes: I had bigger plans but my legs weren’t ready. So I did a 10K shuffle in 1:09:42 (the 5.1 mile course plus an out and back down the upper Bradley Park Hill).

Yes, the Marathon Route signs are up; Race day is the 16’th of October (Sunday)


Last week’s failure has me hungry for “a finish”; time goal just isn’t that important to me now. There was a time when I took a marathon finish for granted; that time was over a long time ago (2009?)

Personal: I thought that I had something profound to say about the moment generating function and the negative binomial distribution. I don’t. In any event, I can’t talk about it in class until I talk about joint density functions.

I was also pleased with myself when I worked about the old “every vector space has a basis” argument in my head (and mostly got it right) until I realized: “yes, you are SUPPOSED to know this stuff”. Oh well. (hint: Zorn’s Lemma)

Time to type a boring request.

September 29, 2016 Posted by | mathematics, running | Leave a comment

back in Peoria

Math Fest: decent conference, but too much driving. Traffic and construction added time to the normally 5:45 hour drive. But my Google maps application helped me around one traffic jam on the way home. I did get some ideas to consider though.

Workout notes: 3.12 miles on the hotel treadmill in 30 minutes; 11:10 first mile then 17:50 for 2 miles. That was enough. I don’t think that I am caught up on sleep; I should dial back expectations for tomorrow’s longish run (maybe 14?)

Math note: I did look up something that I heard about during a talk and thought: “THAT got published?” That gives me more incentive to work on my current paper, which I think is better than some of the stuff I see in print. The editors might not agree though. 🙂

August 6, 2016 Posted by | mathematics, running, travel | Leave a comment

Recovering from a stinging rebuke (resentment and whining alert)

Workout notes: easy 2 mile jog on the treadmill (22:15). I just had breakfast and am waiting for rush hour traffic to lighten up a bit before getting on the road.

Weird FANS note: I did one lap with Centurian John Greene. He is also a math professor; he was working this years event as a volunteer. We..talked math.

He told me about two of his published results. One was about unique factorization domains (UFD): his result showed that every UFD has an “almost Euclidian algorithm”. His other was about the trace of 2 x 2 matrices and how the trace behaves under matrix multiplication. It turns out that when 3 matrices are multiplied (in various orders), a certain property is obeyed with probability p = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}} . Note: the assumptions is that the matrices have real entries and that the entries are selected via a normal probability distribution.

Now how cool is that? I had a moving mathematics seminar. 🙂

Note on yesterday’s baseball game and today’s hotel stay
Yes, I had club seats (splurge, though I paid a discount price). I was uncomfortable with all of the service (being deferred to by attendants, etc.). I ate breakfast at the hotel. I got the “full” breakfast and ate..what I normally eat. My tummy just can’t hold that much anymore. I don’t like trying to drive while stuffed.

For me, luxury (middle class luxury anyway) is a big waste of money (even when purchased at discount rates), or at least these luxuries.

I’d never cut it as a Republican. 🙂

Accepting defeat and moving on

This result stung. I won’t pretend otherwise. I was struggling 1/3 of the way into the race and that is not a good place to be, at least so early on. I’ve thought about what went wrong, and it is possibly one of two things:

1. I didn’t do enough of the “right kind” of training (e. g. monthly 6-8 hour training sessions) even if my total weekly milage was ok.

2. I just can’t do these events any longer.

And yes, there is a bit of envy when I see the successful basking in the glow of their successes …my thinking “dammit, that used to be me”. Well, it is not me any longer. When it comes to sports, you are what you do…that is, what you CURRENTLY do, not what you did 10-12-15 years ago.

But there is still plenty of time for redemption. I have some ideas for a math paper (more important than my sports), and I still am on track to attempt to run a marathon this fall, hopefully in less than 5 hours. My “long run pace” is right as is my training mileage, and this weekend’s event didn’t set me back. So I have goals to work toward, and striving for these, rather than envying others or longing for past successes, is the way to emotionally heal. Nurturing resentments doesn’t help.

And there is my home. My wife: yes, I am glad that the fitness bug bit her in a minor way. This should add some quality of life for her and I want to remain encouraging. But: last night, she listened to my whining for about a minute or two and then wanted to know if I remembered her text about what SHE did…parked 2.5 miles away from lunch, walked to lunch, and walked 2.5 miles back. Yeah, I know, my first marathon and 50K were very slow (7:12, 8:40 respectively, but remember I was going at my “I hope to go much longer than this pace”) but in my current emotional state, it is hard for me to work up much enthusiasm for my wife’s “feat”, even if she got a ton of “likes” for it on Facebook, way more “likes” than any of my marathons/50 milers get. 🙂

But that’s how it works. A “I got an A on my calculus test” gets more attention than “I published another math paper”; it is WHO you get the kudos from that counts.

June 6, 2016 Posted by | mathematics, relationships, walking, whining | , , | Leave a comment