First of all, here’s a grad school update: accepted at Stanford, Michigan, UCLA; rejected from Princeton; still waiting for responses from five more places. Unfortunately, Stanford and Michigan have their open houses at the same time, so I will not be going to Michigan’s. UCLA is looking very tempting right now, but my reasons for determining these things are so bad: on Tuesday I was browsing around on the UCLA math website, and I found that they have a seminar devoted to proving this theorem: Given a positive definite integral quadratic form, every positive integer is representable if and only if 1, 2, 3, …, 290 are representable(!!!). I think that any school that has seminars devoted to proving such incredible theorems have to be taken very seriously. (I imagine it shouldn’t take much to convince me that my decision-making procedures are extremely bad.)
For the first time in college, I really think I might be taking too many courses this quarter (eight I’m actually taking, and then I’m auditing one on the history and philosophy of CCS). I don’t have a problem getting my work done; rather, I have problem concentrating during all the lectures. It is rather embarrassing to realize in the middle of a lecture that I haven’t been paying attention to anything that was said in the past fifteen minutes. It’s even more embarrassing that I’m one of my computer science professor’s favorite students, so sometimes when he’s not doing a very good job of explaining something, he asks me if I understand/can explain it. I don’t really want him to know that I tune out the boring bits! Naturally, the first class of each day (algebraic topology on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; elliptic curves on Tuesdays and Thursdays) always get my full attention; is it any surprise that these classes are my favorites (other than the history and philosophy of CCS class, which generally manages to keep my attention despite its hideous time)?
My Aristotle class, on the other hand, is really boring. Don’t philosophers have better things to do than to quibble about minute semantic points? It’s all completely content-free. Aristotle may have been a very clever man, but he didn’t really say anything at all. Do nonmathematicians find mathematics as nitpicky as I find philosophy? I really can’t understand why such trivial details could be of interest to anyone, but there do seem to be philosophy majors and people like that in the world.
My computer has been extremely unwell for the past three weeks. (It’s unlikely to survive longer than half an hour without giving me a BSOD, and reverting to factory conditions + data disk did nothing to help the situation; in addition, when I try to turn it on, most of the time the lights flash, but it doesn’t actually boot.) While this is very frustrating, it has also been very helpful in some ways. There are actually more things to do than I thought without a computer. (Okay, so it’s not hard to find computers to use, and I even installed MikTeX on one of them, but it’s much easier to waste time on my own computer.) Yesterday I went to a meeting/interview thing with a candidate for a CCS lecturer in computer science. I figured after going through all this stuff last year for the math faculty, I could contribute something. Maybe that was the case; maybe it wasn’t. But at any rate I had fun participating. On the other hand, there’s also a lot more potential to be bored without a computer. Perhaps it’s just as well that the computer had to crash during such a busy quarter. At any rate, it’s definitely going back to Fry’s in two weeks.
On Thursday Agboola recommended that we watch a video of Jean-Pierre Serre lecturing on how to write mathematics badly, and I watched it yesterday. Here is a link. I had a lot of fun watching it. It’s mostly not very technical.