I have had my hands full for quite a while. I intend to get back to blogging now — starting with a few short notes.
First, as some of you may know, I recently posted and submitted a survey paper on one of my main areas of research, viz., growth in groups:
In retrospect, it was a very good thing that I was required to write it (by the conditions on this). It has allowed me to summarize a great deal of what I have been doing in the last few years, as well as to explain other people’s work (to the best of my ability). Participants in the field come from many different areas – I hope I have managed to render ideas from different sources accessible in a fairly transparent way and in one single place.
As many of you also know, and as some others will be saddened to learn from the dedication in the survey paper above, one of my main coauthors, Ákos Seress, passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 54. I look back fondly to our many conversations on permutation groups and to our friendship. He will be missed.
As most readers of this blog know, I am spending a month in Madrid, lecturing on growth in groups and otherwise enjoying myself.
Yesterday, a group of us went to Segovia:
View from the alcázar
The city is notable for (a) its aqueduct, which the Romans must have built at least in part to show off; (b) its fortress, or alcázar. Before the Arab conquest of Spain, there must have been no impressive fortresses, pillows or pins.
On Thursday evening, I was ten minutes late to a reading of the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer. I was not the only one late; going first into the elevator, I noticed that the person going with me was Vargas Llosa.
“Me siento menos mal de llegar diez minutos tarde,” said I.
“Es que la manifestacion esta bloqueando la calle hasta [Madrid toponym]…”, explained Vargas Llosa.
I was trumped, though, the following day, when I retold my interesting conversation at the local maths department. Another person had once stepped on Cortazar’s shoes.
“Me estas pisando los pies”, dijo Cortazar.
I am a little disappointed that he had exactly two.
Correction: The person involved in the second anecdote reports that Cortazar’s exact words were: “Estas caminando sobre mis zapatos”. Much more poetical!
Abro una pagina del diccionario de la Real Academia y encuentro: carolo, cárolus, caromomia carón, carona, caroncharse, caroncho, caronchoso, caronjo, caroñoso (ojo: no carroñoso), caroquero, caroreño, carosiera, carosiero, carosis, carota. In other words, no recognizable word entre las mas caseras carolino and caroteno. And all I wanted to know was whether catala was a real word…
Back in July, I spent some time in Goettingen. As most readers of this blog, it is an old university town with plenty of history – Gauss, Riemann, Hilbert and their friends
all worked and lived there. There was a rather nice workshop on the circle method, and we all had coffee somewhere between the display cases of a nifty collection of mathematical instruments from the pre-digital era.
How to take an inverse Fourier transform in the nineteenth century.
I paused the blogging for a bit due to other commitments. To summarize the last few months: AGRA went well, I got a paper on three primes out, and, after the usual conference season, I am back in home ground.
I recently asked a question on the symmetric group on mathoverflow. I liked I. Pak‘s answer, but I am curious as to whether anybody has more to say on the matter.
While in a Paris cinema the other night, a realization came upon me: not only do we need a remake of Battle Chess (with a modern engine), but the animations must absolutely be reanimations of actors from the sixties and seventies who have sadly passed away by now. Interpolate from a large database of striking facial gestures…
I postulate that one of the queens must be played by late-period Romy Schneider. (Arguments: (a) she is just the sort to electrocute other characters, (b) there would be that scene with the rook.) Thinking about it, it is obvious that Klaus Kinski (impersonating Benedict XVI, of course) should be a bishop. If this is to be Europeans vs. Americans, what about Burt Lancaster (as in Il Gattopardo) as king? But then, that setup would deprive us of Toshiro Mifune…
It’s a pleasure to present (es un placer anunciar…) the website for AGRA.
This is a two-week school (first half of April 2012) on number theory and associated fields. The place is Santiago, Chile; all courses will be given in Spanish. There are travel funds available for students and young researchers within South America. The deadline is February 20.
(If you want to come from a different landmass with (at least in part) your own funding, you are more than welcome!)