## Saturday, March 31, 2018

### Research Soundtrack

## Friday, March 30, 2018

### A Pitch for My New Novel

*A dystopian fairy tale about a dissatisfied doctor's vacation to expose her social media addiction.*

By the way, my d30 (where I rolled again for any results from 27–30) rolled 20 three times during this process, and its only roll below 18 was a single 14, with all but those two rolls in the 20s (including a few of at least 27). Clearly, this is a damage die.

Also, can we get a chart like this for cover letters and grant proposals, please?

P.S. A social media addiction should be contrasted with an antisocial media addiction.

(Tip of the cap to Jennifer Ouellette.)

## Wednesday, March 28, 2018

### Cover Letters When Responding Reviewers

I read this before at some point, and it's still really funny now. (And also way too close to the truth.)

Definitely adding a Review of Irrelevant Literature to my next paper | https://t.co/MlOLNd3O6E pic.twitter.com/khcbyHydBj

— Academia ɐɹnɔsqO (@AcademiaObscura) March 28, 2018

## Tuesday, March 27, 2018

### "Interval Signatures of Celebrities and Researchers on Twitter"

It's always nice to be analyzed (for my tweeting behavior) alongside luminaries like Katy Perry, Shaquille O'Neal, and Steve Martin. Lots of my peeps from network and data science are also put under the data-analytic microscope (or perhaps I should write 'mesoscope') on this page.

### The Perils of Generating Functions (and Submitting a Note from a Parent with an Exam)

I had this posted on my door at Georgia Tech when I was a postdoc, and I found the note a year ago today when I was going through an old spiral notebook.

As a @Caltech undergraduate, I taught a probability course (Math 1d) and introduced freshmen to the glories of generating functions.

— Mason Porter (@masonporter) March 27, 2018

My exam instructions included a line like: "You may also use a note from your mother, though you won't need one."

One student took me up on it. pic.twitter.com/I2Ocif9ttA

## Sunday, March 25, 2018

### Congratulations to Dr. Se-Wook Oh!

The title of Se-Wook's thesis is

*Complex Contagions with Lazy Adoption*. You can read about some of Se-Wook's work in our joint paper, which was published recently in

*Chaos*.

## Tuesday, March 20, 2018

### In Conclusion, Hilarity Ensues.

### What Happens in Provo Stays in Provo

I will somehow deal with the fact that I am not allowed to have coffee on campus. :)

## Sunday, March 18, 2018

### Algorithms in the Form of IKEA Instructions

This is brilliant: Common algorithms explained in the style of IKEA instructions. https://t.co/BIHCed5o0T pic.twitter.com/wTd1DMY2GR

— Thomas Roth (@StackSmashing) March 17, 2018

(Tip of the cap to Lior Pachter.)

### We Kid the Statisticians Because We Love Them

Found on the roadside: @SpringerStats yellow book, beside empty vodka bottles & cigarette packs pic.twitter.com/R8LawGlA7W

— Noah Williams (@Bellmanequation) March 18, 2018

(Tip of the cap to Kerstin Nordstrom.)

## Saturday, March 17, 2018

### Some Really Old Boardgames

I like the cover of "The Magic Ring". :)

Board game aficionados! We dug through @HoughtonLib's archives to find the oldest games in their collections — some created over 300 years ago https://t.co/jbg55aHuyM

— Harvard University (@Harvard) March 17, 2018

(Tip of the cap to Gabrielle Birkman.)

### Society for Impure Mathematics (SIM)

Here's a Fun (Alternative) Fact: The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics used to be known as "Society for Impure Mathematics" (SIM), because those of us who do applied mathematics are less pure than other types of mathematicians, bless their hearts.

But perhaps this great organization really ought to change its name to "Society for Impure Mathematics", to appease the theoretical mathematicians who like to call themselves "pure" mathematicians.

As you may have gathered, I find the phrasing "pure mathematics" to be incredibly demeaning towards applied mathematics and applied mathematicians. (The term "unadulterated mathematics" is even worse, so I suppose that my subject of choice is "adulterated mathematics".) I really dislike being considered impure, by implication of the term in use. "Pure mathematics" should really be called "theoretical mathematics", just like in every other science.

Additionally, here are two of my tweets on this and related subjects.

From now on, can we say "theoretical mathematics" instead of "pure mathematics"? It's much less obnoxious.

— Mason Porter (@masonporter) August 25, 2017

From me, an impure mathematician

The Mathematics Subject Classification (MSC), required on the AMS cover sheet when applying for US mathematics faculty jobs, is very poorly suited for classifying applied mathematicians and leads to interdisciplinary applicants falling through the cracks.https://t.co/zcJ0vmArv4 pic.twitter.com/6KC4pg2f1y

— Mason Porter (@masonporter) December 2, 2017

**Update:**I corrected the acronym (I had written "SIP"), because apparently I am having a problem with English today.

**Update:**If we want to preserve the acronym SIAM and don't mind a bit of redundancy, it can stand for "Society for Impure and Adulterated Mathematics". :)

### Visual Illusion: Snakes on a Plane

Snakes appear to move. pic.twitter.com/HggajNQsHY

— Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka) March 17, 2018

(Tip of the cap to Maggie Koerth-Baker.)

## Friday, March 16, 2018

### Old Article: "On the Fracture of Pencil Points"

Here is an old article on pencil-tip fracture (by Henry Petroski). The picture below, which comes from an even earlier article, sets up the the geometry of a pencil tip.

(I was thinking about this because a 'Number 2' pencil showed up in The Grimm Legacy, which I am currently reading.)

## Thursday, March 15, 2018

### RIP Philip J. Davis (1923–2018) and Writing Uncountably Many Articles

I have a pet peeve in the above obituary: Don't write sentences like "He wrote countless books, articles, and book reviews imbued with his personal perspective." in the obituary of a mathematician, especially if he is an analyst (with much work in numerical analysis, in this case). Trust me: it's countable (and, actually, it's finite).

For most of us, we'll be more familiar with the many essays and (especially) book reviews that Davis wrote for SIAM News.

(Tip of the cap to the SIAM Twitter account.)

### "Title of a Paper"

I’ll soon be giving what amounts to a tutorial for my UCLA Ph.D. students, who will be embarking on writing papers, and — as I was thinking about what materials to prepare — my mind went to a dark, sarcastic place.

— Mason Porter (@masonporter) March 15, 2018

(Inspiration from "Title of the Song" by Da Vinci's Notebook.) pic.twitter.com/N1n3xSY6xr

**Update:**It turns out that I did this so quickly that I mixed my Oxford and UCLA affiliations. Oops.

## Tuesday, March 13, 2018

### Best. Erratum. Ever.

This is quite a correction for the misspelling of one author's name by a single letter. pic.twitter.com/PJgwmETSIj

— Retraction Watch (@RetractionWatch) March 13, 2018

(Tip of the cap to Nalini Joshi, whose 'liking' of this tweet led me to find it.)

## Saturday, March 10, 2018

### Playing Mario Kart on Google Maps to Celebrate Mario Day!

I have a key question: Where are the best places to inflict lightning bolts on people?

In conclusion, come get some!

(Tip of the cap to Gabrielle Birkman, who indicates that there are places to get banana peels and turtle shells.)

###
The Multiplex Social–Slayage Network of *Buffy the Vampire Slayer*

*Buffy the Vampire Slayer*.

The Buffy social network: slayage and love links. https://t.co/xwQ0DoKpAG

— Peter Sheridan Dodds (@peterdodds) March 11, 2018

This figure is definite fodder for talks. Also, if somebody sets up the adjacencies, we should compute some centrality and versatility measures.

## Friday, March 09, 2018

### Pure Evil Versus Applied Evil

### Feedback on Homework Assignments: Getting the Important Stuff Right

You've got to get the important stuff right.

(My submitted feedback also included more substantial comments.)

I also told the lecturer about this in person, of course. :)

#fbf

### New Word Proposal: "Scientificially"

It was just a typo, but I may have to adopt this as a new word for when somebody does something artificial in science.

Example usage: "Those data were estimated scientificially to follow a power law."

## Wednesday, March 07, 2018

### Video project: "Faces of Women in Mathematics"

Quoting the project page: "In February 2018, women mathematicians from all over the world responded to a call for clips in which they were asked to introduce themselves. The result includes 146 clips of 243 women mathematicians from 36 different countries and speaking 31 different languages. Supported by the Committee for Women in Mathematics of the International Mathematical Union."

Take a look at the video!

I met Eugénie, a fellow Somervillian, at last summer's Somerville mathematics reunion (and informal Erdmann-fest). I just found out that she is also a fellow Project NExTer (i.e., a fellow 'dot').

## Tuesday, March 06, 2018

### "Hyperchaos" in the White House

And now I see this article, which predominantly consists of an interview with nonlinear dynamicist (and pioneer of chaos) Jim Yorke, including discussions about both mathematical chaos and hyperchaos.

Here is how the part with Yorke begins:

*"That's not chaos, according to James A. Yorke, Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Maryland at College Park."*It goes on from there.

Just think about it: Jim Yorke, an expert in chaotic dynamics, was interviewed by CNN about Donald Trump, precisely because of the former's expertise in mathematical chaos. Yup, we've gone full Illuminati.

(Tip of the cap to Bruno Eckhardt and fuzzy sweatshirt particle.)

## Monday, March 05, 2018

### "Making Sense of Complexity": A Very Nice Introductory Comic Strip

## Friday, March 02, 2018

### Important Advice from Lego Grad Student to Prospective Graduate Students

It's tempting to fixate on specific professors or features of departments, and to get sold by their pitches. And that all matters. But you never know how your research interests will change over time. What remains constant and critical is the need for caring and supportive peers.

— Lego Grad Student (@legogradstudent) March 2, 2018

**Reaction:**YES! YES! A million times YES! (And, for the top tweet, I would change "seriously consider" to "absolutely go to".)

P.S. Lego Grad Student is awesome.

### Proposal: Use Computational Topology to Study Aversion to Pictures of Holes

For science!

## Thursday, March 01, 2018

### Is 1 the Loneliest Number?

*"One is a number divided by two"*, because that is just a trivial existence statement.

(Some — most? — versions of the song actually have the line

*"One is the number divided by two"*, which is even worse, because of the "the".)

I suppose that this doesn't bother anybody else?

### Is There a Mathematical Formula for How Long it Takes for a Child to Ask "Are We There Yet?"?

I was looking at Dwight Barkley's Wikipedia page, and I noticed that apparently he is

*also known for deriving an equation to estimate how long it will be until a child in a car asks the question "are we there yet?"*

You can read about it (and see the equation) in this short article.

### "Complex Contagions with Timers"

**Title:**Complex Contagions with Timers

**Authors:**Se-Wook Oh and Mason A. Porter

**Abstract:**There has been a great deal of effort to try to model social influence—including the spread of behavior, norms, and ideas—on networks. Most models of social influence tend to assume that individuals react to changes in the states of their neighbors without any time delay, but this is often not true in social contexts, where (for various reasons) different agents can have different response times. To examine such situations, we introduce the idea of a timer into threshold models of social influence. The presence of timers on nodes delays adoptions—i.e., changes of state—by the agents, which in turn delays the adoptions of their neighbors. With a homogeneously-distributed timer, in which all nodes have the same amount of delay, the adoption order of nodes remains the same. However, heterogeneously-distributed timers can change the adoption order of nodes and hence the “adoption paths” through which state changes spread in a network. Using a threshold model of social contagions, we illustrate that heterogeneous timers can either accelerate or decelerate the spread of adoptions compared to an analogous situation with homogeneous timers, and we investigate the relationship of such acceleration or deceleration with respect to the timer distribution and network structure. We derive an analytical approximation for the temporal evolution of the fraction of adopters by modifying a pair approximation for the Watts threshold model, and we find good agreement with numerical simulations. We also examine our new timer model on networks constructed from empirical data.