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Ben Babcock

4 Articles in May 2010

  1. You ain't seen nothing yet

    Shorter entry this week, as I didn't do much new and exciting in week 2 of my research project. I'm still having fun, but because it's so early in the summer, that fun mostly takes the form of reading.

    As tweeted earlier, the secret to reading (and understanding) math papers is simple. First, always read it twice. Then read it again. But to make sure you really understand, you need to take notes. Write down what's implicit in the paper, the steps the author leaves out because "it is obvious" or "it is clear to the reader" or, even worse, "this has been left has an exercise for the reader." Once you've done that, the final step is to read the paper again.

    I spent all week reading two papers, one of which expands on the findings of the other. The first investigates the spreading and covering numbers in relation to the ideal generation conjecture. Much of the paper goes over my head. Nevertheless, there were some very useful figures, and the use of graph theory in one paper and set theory in another helped improve my comprehension of what these numbers are. The second paper, in particular,…

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  2. Start me up

    Chalk board in my office

    I am now into the second week of my NSERC summer research project. So far, I'm having a lot of fun. The subject of my research is interesting and exactly the type of mathematics that I want to study. The "daily grind," such as it is, does not grind at all--it helps that there are three other undergraduate students doing research this summer, and we all share the sessional lecturer office. We can distract each other, when needed, and pick each other's brains for help with particularly puzzling proofs.

    So what exactly am I doing? Well, it's esoteric even for those who enjoyed math up until the first years of university. I'm going to drop some math jargon in the next few paragraphs, so don't worry if your eyes start to glaze over. Photos and hilarious video will follow!

    Since my prof was leaving town at the end of the week, we met several times so he could give me some lectures and we could discuss my project. The work I'm doing relates to ring theory, which is a course I took nearly two years ago, so I have a lot of review to do. Most of the week,…

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  3. Thanks to the Hugos, I have not totally abandoned democracy

    Those of you who read science fiction and fantasy and spend a good deal of time online are probably aware that we're in the middle of the 2010 Hugo Awards. You can see this year's nominees here.

    While I fall into both of the above categories, I only paid the Hugos passing notice. Certainly, if a book has won the Hugo Award, or even been nominated, then I might give it more consideration before I begin reading it. But not every winner is a winner, if you know what I mean.

    This year's different, though. This year, I'm going to pay more attention, because I'm voting in the Hugo Awards.

    Earlier this week, John Scalzi posted on his blog about the 2010 Hugo Voters Packet being available. This is an electronic copy of many of the works nominated for Hugo awards, which is distributed to people who have registered for AussieCon4 (and are thus eligible to vote in the awards).

    A full ticket to AussieCon4 is $310 Australian dollars--and I have no intention of attending a convention. But all you need for voting rights is a supporting membership, which is only $70 Australian. I didn't even need to…

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  4. Game Over: Would you like to play again? How Conservatives and copyright broke my spirit

    Last summer, the government of Canada held an open consultation on the issue of copyright reform. The result: over 8,300 submissions, over 6,000 of which expressed opposition to another copyright reform bill similar to Bill C-61. You can read my submission here.

    It turns out that I and anyone else who submitted to the consultation, wrote a letter to his or her MP, showed up for a meeting or rally, or participated in the Facebook groups or online discourse, have done this all for nothing. We've been wasting our time. Because we're about to do this all over again.

    What's sad is that it didn't have to be this way. Tony Clement is the Industry Minister now, and his attitude toward copyright reform is more sensible than Jim Prentice's. Apparently he was open to a different approach than the one Bill C-61 took--and considering how unacceptable Bill C-61 was, I'll take that. Alas, it looks like Mr. Clement and his fellow cabinet minister, James Moore have differing opinions. So Grandfather Harper intervened.

    The result will apparently be a "Canadian DMCA" that is, as Cory Doctorow puts it, a "goddamned disaster." While…

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About Me

I’m a 27-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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