- Gamergate's attackers move on from (female) indie game developers to (female) game researchers (G+)
- Scammy publisher uses your name as the author of fake papers (G+)
- Escher-like impossible figures by Regalo Bizzi based on a triangular grid (G+)
- James Turrell installation in Las Vegas (G+)
- Waiting for Godot: The Game (by Zoe Quinn; G+)
- Fedorov's Five Parallelohedra, a complete classification of the shapes that can tile space by translation (G+)
- On the high variance in journalistic standards for plagiarism (G+)
- How many median graphs are there? (G+)
- SODA/ALENEX/ANALCO 2015 preregistration closes Monday, Dec. 1 (G+)
- Hexagonal diamond, a crystalline carbon structure even harder than true diamond (G+)
- The Laves graph, an infinite symmetric 3-regular graph that forms yet another possible carbon crystal (G+)
- An experiment in allowing journal reviewers to reveal their names (the G+ post has several additional links on academics including some well known graph theorists taking money to deliberately distort university rankings)
- Pumpkin geometry: stereographic projection of shadows from carved balls (G+; no actual pumpkins involved)
- Clint Fulkerson: an abstract artist whose work feels somehow both geometric and organic (G+)
- Paper popups by Peter Dahmen (G+)
- Crochet Platonic polyhedra by June Gilbank (G+)
- Advice for combining autoref with shared counters for theorems and lemmas (and in the G+ post, a plea for something similar that will work with the LIPIcs LaTeX format)
- A topological trick with duvet covers (G+)
- Harborth's conjecture on graph drawing with integer edge lengths (G+)
- A cryptic crossword by Thore Husfeldt featuring parameterized complexity and my name (G+)
- Giving scientific advice that turns out to be incorrect is not a crime (G+)
- Chvátal-Sankoff constants (the expected length of a random longest common subsequence; G+)
- Automatic Voynich (G+)
- Magic squares on stamps (G+)
- Polyhedra in which all faces are holy, and an update on big Life spaceships (G+)
- Photos of mechanical calculators (via Wired and BB; G+)
- Kinetic origami sculpture by Jo Nakashima (G+)
- How pineapples help finding Steiner trees (G+)
- ICALP 2015 conference web site and call for papers (deadline Feb.17; G+)
- Mass resignation from an open access journal (G+)
- A hardness result for organizing your Google Scholar profile (G+)
- Wikipedia, a Professor's Best Friend, and a tangential note about binary logarithms (G+)
- When women stopped coding, an analysis of why and how long we've been seeing a decline in the number of women in computer science (G+)
- Fake classes for athletes at UNC, or why I'm happy UCI doesn't have a football team (G+)
- WADS 2015 conference web site and call for papers (deadline Feb.20; G+)
- City maps colored by grid orientation (MF; G+)
- Scientist sues open-peer-review site commenters (G+)
- Wikipedia emerges as trusted internet source for ebola information (G+)
- Was the Knuth-Plass line breaking output ever subjected to a blind experiment? (G+)
- At the far ends of a new universal law, a popular-press article about the Tracy–Widom distribution (G+)
- Brands of nonsense, on university's attempts to apply corporate branding dogma to themselves (G+)
- Why academic writing stinks or, keep it simple (G+)
- Sad news of the death of Ferran Hurtado (G+)
- A visual compendium of glowing creatures, scientific illustration by Eleanor Lutz (G+)
- Women in computer science get tenure at significantly lower rates than men even after normalizing for research productivity (G+)
- Tietze's graph, Wikipedia article expanded with a new illustration of why it has the name it has: it was an earlier counterexample in the theory of coloring graphs on non-orientable surfaces (G+)
- Abdel Kader Haidara awarded Germany's 2014 Africa Prize for rescuing Timbuktu manuscripts (G+)
- Adobe Digital Editions 4 spying on users by sending a listing of the contents of your entire digital library in cleartext (G+)
- NASA Invents a Folding Solar Panel Inspired by Origami (G+)
- Optimal randomized comparison sorting: a question on the CSTheory exchange observing that randomization can break the decision tree lower bound and asking what's known about upper bounds (G+)
- More on the strange scale-free Babylonian concept of number, in which 1 and 60 were apparently indistinguishable (G+)
- Robert le Ricolais’s Tensegrity Models, architectural models that could as well be abstract art (G+)
- European Science Foundation demands retraction of criticism in Nature, threatens legal action (G+)
- SoCG 2015 conference web site and call for papers (G+)
- Unexpected shapes in smoke plumes, as photographed by Thomas Herbrich (G+)
- ISAAC 2014 and COCOA 2014 accepted paper lists (G+)
- FOCS 2014 program and best paper winners (G+)
- Kinetic sculpture made of wooden balls on threads, with some extensive software simulation behind its design (G+)
- How a 19th century math genius taught us the best way to hold a pizza slice, or, a practical application of the theorem that when a flat surface is embedded in 3d, it remains flat in at least one direction (G+)
- Centered octahedral numbers on Wikipedia (G+)
- Interesting esoterica summation (G+)
- A Möbius-Invariant Power Diagram and Its Applications to Soap Bubbles and Planar Lombardi Drawing (journal version of two of my old conference papers; G+)
- Researcher loses job at NSF after government questions her role as 1980s activist (G+)
- Pi visualized as a public urban art mural (G+)
- How not to reference papers (a sad story by Igor Pak of academic misattribution; G+)
- Steinitz Theorems for Simple Orthogonal Polyhedra (journal version of another of my papers; G+)
- Editorial board of Journal of K-theory goes on strike over publisher profiteering (G+)
- An interview with Haida artist Jim Hart (G+):
- Persi Diaconis discusses mathematics and magic (G+)
- A still-unsolved question about whether it's possible to compute edit distance in sublinear space and polynomial time (G+)
- A New York Times story about how scheduling software makes part-time workers' lives harder. Or does it? The MF discussion of the article makes it clear that managers have been doing the same things with lower tech for a long time. (G+)
- Kerfuffle over SoCG colocation with STOC, later resolved (G+)
- Barrier resilience on Wikipedia (G+)
- Robert Lang talks about the way mathematics done purely for its aesthetic value (in this case mathematical origami) can turn around and have practical applications. (G+)
- The Troll Slayer. New Yorker profile of classics professor Mary Beard, who knows better than most exactly how long men have been silencing women. (G+)
- A study on how social media causes us to self-censor our opinions (G+)
- My UCI colleague Scott Jordan takes a position advising the FCC about net neutrality (G+)
- Sculpture by Zachary Abel, one of my new co-authors on the flat-folding paper (G+)
The nymwars are the struggle to maintain online safe havens for pseudonymous free speech, for people who don't feel safe linking their opinions with their real names (for fear of religious persecution / sexual predation / current or future job prospects / whatever else) in the face of attempts by Facebook, Google, and others to force everyone to cross-link all their personal information. Soon after its launch in 2011, Google+ took a strong stand that only people willing to post under their real names would be welcome on the site, and (as one very minor consequence) I stopped posting there. Now, finally, Google+ has relented and will allow arbitrary user-chosen identities. They could have been more apologetic about it, but it's enough for me to return there.
I don't intend to change my Livejournal posting habits much, as I've been using my Google+ account for a somewhat different purpose: posting brief links to web sites that catch my attention and that I think might be of interest to my (mostly technical/academic) circles of contacts there. Here's a roundup of a dozen or so links I've posted so far (skipping the ones where I linked back to my LJ postings).
- Memo to academic journal reviewers: Don’t tell your editor what a study is not. Some advice that would also be useful for CS conference reviewers. (G+)
- 3D weaving produces strong, flexible solids (G+)
- These things are related. On several recent instances of misogyny/sexism in science. (G+)
- Wink Space: An immersive kaleidoscopic mirror tunnel inside a shipping container. Zippered mirrored polyhedra. (G+)
- The Miura fold: art and mathematics of origami. (G+)
- Graph Drawing contest, GD 2014 accepted papers, and IPEC 2014 accepted papers.
- Colombian student faces prison charges for sharing an academic article online. (G+)
- Journey to the center of a triangle, one of a set of CC-licenced educational films from the 1970s. (G+)
- Mathematical analysis of geometric hallucinations, helping explain how the human visual system works. (G+)
- Selections from Tallmadge Doyle’s ethereal Celestial Mapping Series. (G+)
- Robo rehab. Newspaper coverage of some research by one of my UCI colleagues, David Reinkensmeyer, who's using mechanical-linkage exoskeletons to assist injured and disabled people. (G+)
I'll probably miss SoCG, in Kyoto this year, but for those who will be going, there will be an associated workshop in honor of Asano's 65th birthday.
Free access to my works is much more important to me than their imprimatur. If I wasn't already boycotting Elsevier, this would certainly be enough by itself to make me want to. By this move, Elsevier has shown that it views itself only as a predator of, and not a part of, the academic research community.
In computational geometry, we're still supporting an Elsevier journal, Computational Geometry: Theory and Applications, by having officially endorsed special issues in it for conferences including SoCG and CCCG. I think it's time to stop doing that.
Nationality-based blacklisting from academic publishing. Via Gowers. Given that I apparently live in a rogue surveillance state that tortures people, conducts undeclared cyberwar against the French, etc., this sort of collective punishment for government misbehavior troubles me. I suppose it's better than bombing them, though.
And, to make up for all that seriousness:
PingFS: keeping your data in the cloud by juggling raindrops.
You know how I recently posted that attaching labels to the things they label by curves or slanted lines would be better than axis-parallel polylines? This isn't what I meant. And many more bad ideas in information visualization, via MF.
Hexadecimal metric system. Complete with a new method of writing hexadecimal numbers, using a system of syllables for digits in which the consonant of each syllable tells you the digit value (in the obvious ordering q, b, p, v, f, z, s, d, t, j, c, g, k, y, x, w, h) and the vowel tells you what power of 16 it should be multiplied by.
It may be entertaining, but it's not good for the literature for it to be cluttered up with this sort of cargo-cult imitation of research, and it's not good for universities and academics (and the students they teach) to be pressured into publishing this sort of junk in order to keep up a pretense of being a research university. (Also, before you say that impact factors will sort these things out, someone on the post I found this on has already commented that this journal's impact factor is pretty high; impact factors are easily manipulated and there's a lot of motivation for doing so.)
In connection with this I found a paper by Tom Fawcett that made very similar points, nearly a decade ago. But it's easy to find recent and highly-cited works that don't take Fawcett's lessons to heart.
At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, combinatorics flourished in German mathematics research, under the leadership of Carl Hindenburg. Later opinion has not been kind:
"ill-advised and purposeless modification" — Sir Thomas Muir 1906
"of limited scope and restricted application" — Encyclopaedia Brittanica 1910
"mired in the mathematical trivia by which the School itself was plagued" — Manning 1975
"The faults of his [Euler's] time found their culmination in the Combinatorial School in Germany, which has now passed into oblivion" — Cajori 1991
"thousands of pages filled with esoteric symbolism that must have impressed many nonmathematicians" — Knuth 2006
Knuth goes on to call Heinrich August Rothe "Hindenberg's best student", and says that his work is "not completely trivial", but cites as evidence only an algorithm for finding the successor and predecessor of a morse code sequence in lexicographic order.
Here are some Rothe's other contributions, from just one of his publications:
- The first definition of the inverse of a permutation
- A proof that the number of inversions of a permutation (the concept that Muir called "ill-advised and purposeless") is the same as for its inverse
- A proof that the determinant of a matrix is the same as for its transpose
- A diagram (the Rothe diagram) still used for visualization of permutations and inversions
- The first definition of a self-inverse permutation
- A simple recurrence formula for the number of self-inverse permutations
Not completely trivial?!
Yes, these results are easy nowadays, but in part that's because we learn about permutations from our beginning years of college, if not earlier. And where did what we learn about come from?
So anyway, for the last few weeks (in my copious spare time) I've been clearing out the red from List of people by Erdős number. It was never intended to be comprehensive; that's for the Erdős number project or maybe for the collaboration distance calculator built into MathSciNet. Rather, it's just supposed to list the subset of people who both have (or should have) Wikipedia articles and have a small Erdős number. The #3 section of the list has been clear of red for a long time, and now the #2 is. Most of what I did was to remove names, but along the way I found quite a few people who (it seemed to me) should so clearly have articles that I made new ones. They are:
Baruch Awerbuch, Robert G. Bland, Hans Bodlaender, Derek Corneil, Danny Dolev, Rod Downey, Amos Fiat, Benedict Freedman, Nancy Freedman, Uriel Frisch, László Fuchs, Curtis Greene, John P. Hayes, David Jerison, Lila Kari, Anna Karlin, Jon Lee, Darrell Long, Heikki Mannila, Paul G. Mezey, Cris Moore, Bernard Moret, George Nemhauser, Nathan Netanyahu, Noam Nisan, Alfred van der Poorten, John E. Savage, Boris M. Schein, Norman Schofield, Eli Shamir, Mike Steel, Ileana Streinu, Subhash Suri, Stevo Todorčević, Dorothea Wagner, Stan Wagon, Tandy Warnow, Dominic Welsh, Moti Yung, and William S. Zwicker.
(There are one or two in there that I didn't make but expanded someone else's recently created one. And at least one of the names above is not actually on the Erdős number list.)
You might notice that they're not all the same length or level of detail. That has very little to do with how important I think these people are, and very much to do with how easy I found it to write about them. Also, the fact that I removed a name doesn't imply that I think that person hasn't met the Wikipedia inclusion criteria for articles on academics: there were quite a few other names that I removed from the list for whom I would support the creation of an article, but wasn't ready to do it myself.
In general I've found the English-language Wikipedia's coverage of German-language topics in the sciences to be somewhat spotty. Maybe it's because of the language barrier; maybe it's because the German-language Wikipedia is itself pretty good so German speakers don't feel the need to use or improve the English one. Whatever the reason, there's plenty more to be done in that direction.
Mike Goodrich had an interesting recent post on Google plus arguing that, for reasons of scalability, academic conferences should aim for a stable year-to-year acceptance rate rather than (as seems more typical now) aiming for a stable year-to-year absolute number of accepted papers. In the comments to Mike's post, I raised a related issue, which is that (in my opinion) reduced acceptance rates lead to a greater emphasis on fashion and conventionality and a reduced fraction of speculative papers at the conference. I gave some reasons why I think that happens in the comment, but I thought I'd try to quantify that a little more precisely here.
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I'm sure it's an unrelated coincidence, but in retrospect some of his titles start to sound a little sinister: "Collaboration of untrusting peers with changing interests", "Collaborate with strangers to find own preferences", "Tell me who I am".