Skip to the Main Content

Note:These pages make extensive use of the latest XHTML and CSS Standards. They ought to look great in any standards-compliant modern browser. Unfortunately, they will probably look horrible in older browsers, like Netscape 4.x and IE 4.x. Moreover, many posts use MathML, which is, currently only supported in Mozilla. My best suggestion (and you will thank me when surfing an ever-increasing number of sites on the web which have been crafted to use the new standards) is to upgrade to the latest version of your browser. If that's not possible, consider moving to the Standards-compliant and open-source Mozilla browser.

February 5, 2009

Temptations of Mathematical Structures

Urs Schreiber:

I find that plenty of people are studying plenty of structures with great enthusiasm whose whose true origin and meaning is clearly unknown. I find this eerie, too, but maybe in a different sense: it’s not so hard to just fiddle around with structures and study axiom systems. What is harder is finding out where these naturally live.

When I was a sophomore at Harvard, I took the Mathematical Methods in Physics course. The syllabus in the printed course catalogue contained a long list of interesting topics to be covered, including “Milbert Spaces.”

On the first day of class, the professor gave an overview of what he planned to cover for the semester. When he got to the aformentioned topic, he said

As pure Math, the theory of Milbert Spaces is really fascinating. But, it turns out, what’s relevant to Quantum Mechanics is the theory of Hilbert Spaces. So that’s what we’ll do, instead…

Posted by distler at 11:46 AM | Permalink | Followups (3)

February 4, 2009


Two years ago, I decided to adapt a well-know Rails-based wiki to my nefarious purposes. Twenty five months and 350 commits later, my fork of Instiki had diverged markedly from the original.

This was a source of considerable confusion. If, say, you searched for instiki, my site would show up in the first page of results. But the other, now radically-outdated, application would show up first. Perhaps I should have chosen to change the name.

Or perhaps not.

If you wander over to the main Instiki website, and scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll notice something curious. It’s running my version of Instiki.

After some discussions, the current maintainer, Matthias Tarasiewicz, decided to adopt my branch (lock, stock and barrel) as the next version of Instiki.

The main Instiki Source Repository has moved to Github (yay!) and mirrors1 mine. The, soon-to-be released, “next” version of the main line of Instiki will be my Version 0.16.2.

My branch is now at Version 0.16.3, based on the latest Rails 2.3.0RC1. One cool new feature is that it automatically chooses between Mongrel (if available) and WEBrick (if not). You just type

./instiki --daemon

and it will automatically select the best available webserver to use.

You’ll always be able to get the latest and greatest version from my site. But, hopefully, releases of the main line of Instiki will never again lag too far behind.

1 One really annoying feature of Git is that it ignores empty directories in commits. Why do people put up with that? There are a bunch of such directories in Instiki (and, indeed, in most Rails apps), so Git seems particularly ill-suited as a source repository for such projects.

Posted by distler at 11:42 PM | Permalink | Followups (5)