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December 31, 2016

NSA Axes Math Grants

Posted by Tom Leinster

Old news, but interesting: the US National Security Agency (NSA) announced some months ago that it was suspending funding to its Mathematical Sciences Program. The announcement begins by phrasing it as a temporary suspension—

…[we] will be unable to fund any new proposals during FY2017 (i.e. Oct. 1, 2016–Sept. 30, 2017)

—but by the end, sounds resigned to a more permanent fate:

We thank the mathematics community and especially the American Mathematical Society for its interest and support over the years.

We’ve discussed this grant programme before on this blog.

The NSA is said to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the world, and has been under political pressure for obvious reasons over the last few years, so it’s interesting that it cut this programme. Its British equivalent, GCHQ, is doing the opposite, expanding its mathematics grants aggressively. But still, GCHQ consistently refuses to engage in any kind of adult, evidence-based discussion with the mathematical community on what the effect of its actions on society might actually be.

Posted at 3:39 AM UTC | Permalink | Followups (2)

December 17, 2016

Globular for Higher-Dimensional Knottings (Part 2)

Posted by John Baez

guest post by Scott Carter

This is the second post in a series about Globular. To load Globular, open a new tab in a Chrome browser window and have a a 3-button mouse plugged into your computer. The papers to read about Globular are Data structures for quasistrict higher categories by Jamie Vicary and Krzysztof Bar, and Globular: an online proof assistant for higher-dimensional rewriting in which Aleks Kissinger joins Jamie and Krzysztof to explain further and give some nice examples of globular’s potential.

Posted at 2:15 AM UTC | Permalink | Followups (17)

December 16, 2016

Globular for Higher-Dimensional Knottings

Posted by John Baez

guest post by Scott Carter

About 7 months ago, Jamie Vicary contacted me with a Globular worksheet of which, initially, I could make neither heads nor tails. He patiently explained to me that what I was looking at was an example that I had worked out for Bruce Bartlett one evening. He explained how to read it. Fast forward through a number of late night (for him) Skype sessions and a number of heartbreaking system errors for me, and now I feel that Globular is not only the best way to do higher dimensional knot theory and diagrammatic calculations, but it has the potential to be revolutionary. It will give insight into classical theorems and it will be used in the near future to create diagrammatic proofs of new theorems.

This first post will be about ordinary 3-dimensional knots.

Posted at 6:53 AM UTC | Permalink | Followups (5)

December 15, 2016

Field Notes on the Behaviour of a Large Assemblage of Ecologists

Posted by Tom Leinster

I’ve just come back from the annual conference of the British Ecological Society in Liverpool. For several years I’ve had a side-interest in ecology, but I’d never spent time with a really large group of ecologists before, and it taught me some things. Here goes:

Posted at 12:44 AM UTC | Permalink | Followups (21)