After one instance too many of getting needlessly irked by certain views on MathStackExchange, and belatedly realising that what seems to be the majority ethos is one I feel deeply out of step with…
… je l’ai quitté pour soigner mon âme.
Adieu l’Antoine, je t’aimais pas bien.
Adieu l’Antoine, je t’aimais pas bien, tu sais:
J’en crève de crever aujourd’hui -
Alors que toi, tu es bien vivant,
Et même plus solide que l’ennui…
Update 2nd October 2012
Moore has withdrawn his claim: see the comments at 1209.2063v4. Thus, the amenability or otherwise of F remains open!
The original post now follows beneath.
While the rest of the mathematical blogosphere is probably more excited about the announced proof of the ABC conjecture — and who can blame them, or you? — this bear of little brain was rather more enthused by other developments today.
Thompson’s group F is amenable.
(Thompson himself apparently raised this question back in the 1970s; see this MathOveflow post for some details.)
It has long been known that F is not elementary amenable and has exponential growth, so that in some sense it cannot be “amenable for bvious reasons”.
A preprint is apparently forthcoming; obviously, Moore’s purported proof will require a good deal of scrutiny. (That’s even before one goes into the unfortunate history surrounding previous announcements by various authors regarding the amenability or non-amenability of F…) Still, if everything holds up, I for one will be very interested to see the details; not least because Moore has previously obtained lower bounds for the growth of Følner sequences for F.
Update 2012-09-11: the preprint is now on the arXiv at 1209.2063.
I’ll start … with the case against [basket-weaving]. Suppose you were exposed to that subject as a sub-cabalistic ritual of manipulating [toves] and magical [borogoves] according to rules justified (if at all) only by a transparently false origin myth — that is to say, you had to endure what is still an all-too-common sort of intro. [basket-weaving] class — or, perhaps worse, a “research methods” class whose content had fossilized before you were born. Suppose you then looked at the genuinely impressive things done by the best of those who call themselves “[trendy container architects]“. Well then, no wonder you think “This is something new and wonderful”; and I would not blame you in the least for not connecting it with [basket-weaving]. Perhaps you might find some faint resemblance, but it would be like comparing a child’s toy wagon to a Ducati.
Modern [basket-weaving] is not like that, and has not been for decades.
With thanks, and apologies, to this post of Cosma Shalizi, which is well worth reading.
update 2012-08-17: not so much a Rorschach test as a spam magnet, it would seem. Comments now off.
(Update: broken link fixed 06/06/2013)
Having received an unsolicited email fromsome folks calling themselves iAMscientist.com, who describe themselves as
the first crowdfunding platform for science, technology and medical projects… committed to helping accelerating research by helping to fund the best and most innovative projects from top faculty members
and having quickly checked via Google that they appear to be a genuine company at time of writing, may I just say:
Claude P. Sheer employs incompetent spammers.
After all: if you start your email with “Dear [firstname]“, then the least you can do is get my name right. At the very least, don’t put a common surname as the erroneous first name. You may be “a media executive with a strong track record for building and growing businesses”, whose goal is “to accelerate discovery by creating a platform to encourage and reward entrepreneurship in research”, but in the present context you just strike me as getting even the basics of tinned meat distribution wrong.
As for iAMscientist’s claims that
We believe that everyone has a stake in research to support discovery in science, technology and medicine. We further believe that if practicing researchers participate in vetting and supporting research proposals, funding can be faster and easier for everyone.
- oh, go and look up “peer review” and “grant application”, and then stick your cant where the sun doesn’t shine. I’m sure you can even crowdsource suggestions from practising researchers as to the depth or orientation of the insertion.
I am rather tickled by the following piece of auto-generated/collaged spam, left on one of my previous posts:
Which leaves me, at least, with only one (unexpected) question: whether, despite Cowling’s keen understanding of England’s cultural quandary, his method of writing history has not led him towards something like faint and undue optimism. His only suggestion for how a second-generation Christian cultural sensibility might be recovered, apart from some cultural crisis that would spark a new generation of conversions, is “the slow influence which might be exerted by a Christian literature.” At this point, though, I wonder whether Cowling’s study might not profitably ballast itself with some element of material history. By all means, we should always be guilty of what Marx called ideology, and recognize that ideas shape culture at least as decisively as material conditions shape ideas, but one must ask whether, by confining his work to the rarefied atmosphere of intellectual discourse, Cowling does not allow himself to keep artificially alive debates that history has already decided.
The prose is somewhat less irksome than some academese (or worse still, pseudo-intellectual bloggese) that I’ve seen, although one should note that a study can’t really “profitably ballast itself”. (For that matter, I don’t know of any hot air balloons which can ballast themselves, profitably or otherwise.)
I have some ongoing refereeing/reviewing commitments which limit my time; moreover, as my work does not involve variable Lebesgue spaces, while I might be able to verify the technical correctness of the claims, I cannot confidently give an assessment of importance or novelty (important in view of JMAA’s desire to be more selective).
Have also just accepted a refereeing job for a Springer journal. This does not make me a fan of Springer, much less someone who believes that they are the White Knights standing virtuously away from the Evil Seer; the decision was based solely on the article being of more interest to me and one where I felt my judgement might be more accurate.
… Apparent mix-up’s really quite remiss.
This afternoon I’ve been reading what I find an interesting article by Michael Cowling, purportedly on “The Future of Mathematical Publishing”, in the April 2012 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. It makes a refreshing change, for this curmudgeon at least, from some rhetoric that I’ve seen deployed on the internet.
I should come back and blog at further length about this. (Yes, I know; how many times have I said this before and not followed through?) But that’s not the topic for this post. Rather, I was surprised to see, in the footnote matter, the following:
Michael G. Cowling is honorary senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow. His email address is Michael.Cowling@glasgow.ac.uk.
Why the surprise? Well, the Michael G. Cowling I know of is a professor at the University of New South Wales (having briefly spent time as a professor in Birmingham, UK). The NAMS article matches his writing style, which I’ve seen both in research articles and in some “advice for authors on submission of articles”, and the author refers to being “an editor of an Australian Mathematical Society journal”.
Some searching online shows me that there is a Michael Cowling who is an honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow … but in the Department of Engineering. (There appears to have been a professor Mike Cowling in the Marine Engineering department there, but the pages I could find looked out of date.)
I find it hard to believe that MGC has moved back across the globe, not even into a Mathematics department, taking a demotion, and dropping the middle initial that seems to be used in most of his official writing. So: NAMS sub-editors. What gives?
Update 2012-06-25: I’ve been slow to notice this, but the June issue of the Notices contains a correction of this footnote (which can be found, for those reading online, in the “Letters” pages).