## Simon posts?

I haven’t posted for over a month, although, in my defense, it was a rather short month. I have been home for a week after having gone through the busiest quarter of my life so far. I’ll be somewhat less busy next quarter with 9(?) fewer units than last quarter, although my most normal standards, it will still be a relatively busy quarter. Hopefully I’ll find time to learn something as opposed to doing schoolwork nearly all the time. We’ll see.

Putnam scores came in a few days ago. I got 43 points, which is 130th. I’m very disgusted with my score and have returned to questioning whether or not I have any skill whatsoever as far as mathematics goes. I guess one need not actually be good at math in order to do math successfully, and it’s certainly enjoyable.

I have been doing a bit of combinatorics from Richard Stanley’s first book and some field theory from O’Meara’s book on quadratic forms. Non-archimedian valuations are very strange things, but they have some advantages. For example, if a sequence {a_n} converges to 0 in a non-archimedian valuation, then sum a_n converges. How sensible it is! Too bad that doesn’t happen with archimedian valuations.

Hi. I'm Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo. I'm a mathematics postdoc at Dartmouth College. I'm also a musician; I play piano and cello, and I also sometimes compose music and study musicology. I also like to play chess and write calligraphy. This blog is a catalogue of some of my thoughts. I write them down so that I understand them better. But sometimes other people find them interesting as well, so I happily share them with my small corner of the world.
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### 16 Responses to Simon posts?

1. Hey Simon! Long time no see! I didn’t have time to sign up for the 2004 Putnam, but I really wanted to take it again! It’s just that last year I took it (the 2003 Putnam) but we never got our scores back! I’ll have to say kudos to you on your Putnam score! I think one year, the highest score at Berkeley was only 30-something. And congrats for being in the top 150 in the nation! That’s something to be marvelled at!

2. aknoln says:

Two things:
1) You don’t have to be awesome.
2) But you’re awesome.

• Simon says:

Re: Two things:
Or else I constantly raise my standards of awesomeness so that I’m never part of it.

3. rippledance says:

Simon posts! *laughs*
There’s always next year for the Putnam.

• confuted says:

Technically, there is only a next year three times for the Putnam (after having messed up once).

• Simon says:

I only have a next two years for the Putnam.

4. intrepia says:

What does it mean to be good at math?

• Simon says:

Hm good question. Being good at math probably involves not being me.

• intrepia says:

I don’t know if I believe that, but surely there are better ways to measure how good one is at math than by Putnam scores…

• Simon says:

Perhaps, but the Putnam is an extremely easy benchmark to go by for a college student. I do, however, believe that a prerequisite for being good at math (or anything else, for that matter) involves not being me.

• Simon says:

I suppose I should stop bashing myself for everything and should try to make a point of noticing when something actually goes well.

• bob_mysty says:

hm. not bad. that is about 4 and a half problems out of 10, right?

5. confuted says:

I got my score today. Imagine Floor[Pi/3]-1.

6. mathfanatic says:

Well, you got one more than the meaning of life. I’d say that’s not something to snort phlegm at.
Congratulations!
(Besides, 130th out of all the college students is better than USAMO-qualifying.)

7. Anonymous says:

You shouldn’t beat yourself up over your school on the Putnam. They grade harshly. So you could’ve done really well but your proofs weren’t “up to mark” in their view. Also, I know a guy at my college (U of Chicago) who never did well at the Putnam but is now at Harvard doing his PhD. It’s not the end of the world. “Being good at math” isn’t equivalent to “being good at a 6 hour exam on one cold december saturday morning.”
Just my 2 cents.

• Simon says:

Of course this is true, but if my proofs aren’t up to the mark, then something is wrong, and I don’t think it will get better if I just say that all is well and don’t do anything about it.