Monday, September 28, 2020

RIP Jay Johnstone (1945–2020)

Baseball player and noted prankster Jay Johnstone died today. Here is ESPN's article about it.

Also, read his books. They're hilarious.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Personal Dice

Thursday, September 17, 2020

2020 Ig Nobel Laureates

This year's Ig Nobel laureates were announced in today's ceremony

 I have some fondness for the Physics prize (for exciting Faraday-like waves in earthworms), given that nonlinear dynamics and pattern formation are involved, and several of the other ones are also very amusing, but I think that my favorite one this year is the one in Management:

(奚广安) Xi Guang-An, (莫天祥) Mo Tian-Xiang, (杨康生) Yang Kang-Sheng, (杨广生) Yang Guang-Sheng, and (凌显四) Ling Xian Si, five professional hitmen in Guangxi, China, who managed a contract for a hit job (a murder performed for money) in the following way: After accepting payment to perform the murder, Xi Guang-An then instead subcontracted the task to Mo Tian-Xiang, who then instead subcontracted the task to Yang Kang-Sheng, who then instead subcontracted the task to Yang Guang-Sheng, who then instead subcontracted the task to Ling Xian-Si, with each subsequently enlisted hitman receiving a smaller percentage of the fee, and nobody actually performing a murder.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

"Spatial Applications of Topological Data Analysis: Cities, Snowflakes, Random Structures, and Spiders Spinning Under the Influence"

One of my papers was just published in final form today. Here are some details.

Title: Spatial Applications of Topological Data Analysis: Cities, Snowflakes, Random Structures, and Spiders Spinning Under the Influence

Authors: Michelle Feng and Mason A. Porter

Abstract: Spatial networks are ubiquitous in social, geographical, physical, and biological applications. To understand the large-scale structure of networks, it is important to develop methods that allow one to directly probe the effects of space on structure and dynamics. Historically, algebraic topology has provided one framework for rigorously and quantitatively describing the global structure of a space, and recent advances in topological data analysis have given scholars a new lens for analyzing network data. In this paper, we study a variety of spatial networks—including both synthetic and natural ones—using topological methods that we developed recently for analyzing spatial systems. We demonstrate that our methods are able to capture meaningful quantities, with specifics that depend on context, in spatial networks and thereby provide useful insights into the structure of those networks. We illustrate these ideas with examples of synthetic networks and dynamics on them, street networks in cities, snowflakes, and webs that were spun by spiders under the influence of various psychotropic substances.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Usage of the Word 'Oy'

Friday, September 11, 2020

"{Location, Location, Location}"

I am amused by today's xkcd.

I am going to steal the mouseover text for other nefarious purposes: "The most important attributes of a vector in 3-space are {Location, Location, Location}"

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

RIP Paul Steen (?? – 2020)

I received the sad news early today that Cornell Professor Paul Steen died on Friday.

I took a class on bifurcation theory from Paul, who was very supportive. My class project, in which I needed to use AUTO (an important aspect of the course), led to this publication.

Here is an excerpt from the Acknowledgements section:

Additionally, we express our gratitude toward Alan Champneys for several productive suggestions regarding the numerics, Alejandro Rodríguez-Luis for providing a preprint of his manuscript, and Paul Steen, whose guidance for this work as a project for ChE 753 (on which this paper is based) was particularly valuable.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

RIP Lou Brock (1939–2020)

We've lost another one of the great ones: Hall-of-Famer Lou Brock died today at the age of 81. You can see his statistics at this web page.

(Tip of the cap to Gregg Schneider.)

Tales from the ArXiv: "Dandling" Ends in Networks

The typo in this paper is pretty amusing, and I think that the authors should go with it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

RIP Tom Seaver (1944–2020)

Baseball Hall-of-Famer and pitching legend Tom Seaver has died. You can marvel at his career statistics on this page.

(Tip of the cap to Gregg Schneider.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

UCLA's New Undergraduate Major in "Data Theory"

UCLA has a new undergraduate major in Data Theory. Here is its catalog entry.

Update: Also see some hyperlinks in my previous blog entry about our new major.