My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

3 Articles from June 2010

  1. Music must change

    I like to joke with my friends about how easy I have it this summer. I'm sitting in a cozy little office with a fan, proximity to a kettle, and a high-speed Internet connection. Unlike a summer research student in, say, chemistry or biology, I don't have to manipulate lab equipment or sex fruit flies (Cassie :P). The extent of my experimentation will involve uploading programs to a high-powered computing network and asking it kindly to compute a few more numbers for me. I Google math papers relevant to my problem, try to understand what they say, and see if I can come up with my own ideas. One thing I love about math research, especially in my area of interest, is how much it's thought. All I really need is a blackboard and chalk, or pencil and paper. (That being said, the high-powered computing network does help when I get to the computation step!)

    Of course, it's not all fun and games (even though I did learn how to solve a Rubik's cube last week). Maths is hard! And right now, even though I've been in university for three years, I feel like an amateur groping around an unsolved…

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  2. Why I hate Facebook's news feed

    For reasons beyond my ken, I cannot sign into AIM at the moment I'm writing this. This lapse in stimulus caused my brain to seek more meaningless information bombardment before it collapsed into a pile of quivering, atrophied jelly. That's right: I went on Facebook. And as I sat here, staring at the New Feed on the homepage, I sighed.

    The News Feed is useless for my purposes, as are many of the tools Facebook purports to offer me.

    Now, although I have been (and continue to be) critical of Facebook's privacy policies, I did not quit Facebook and have no plans to do so. Despite my forthcoming complaints, Facebook is a useful tool in some respects; managed properly, privacy is a concern but not enough motivation for quitting the service altogether.

    My experience with Facebook has had incredible highs and some lows. Facebook reunited me with some friends, with whom I lost touch after moving across town, from elementary school. They are now friends in this newfangled adulthood thing I'm trying on for size. On the other hand, I've accepted friend requests from people I barely knew in high school (or barely remember from elementary school), purely because I…

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  3. Guitar and pen

    Yes, yes, I know. At this rate, my weekly recap will become bi-weekly. I didn't do a lot the week before last, owing to Victoria Day making for a shortened week. So rather than two very short blog posts, I decided to forbear and write one short blog post instead.

    The last two weeks have been more reading, more learning, and a little thinking. I hesitate to ascribe a label like "productive," since it's hard to quantify. I think I understand my problem now, but there remains a lot for me to learn in order to start trying solutions.

    I tried running the original algorithm for computing the spreading number, which was written in CoCoA, on my computer. I had hoped that my 2 GB of RAM and 1.83 GHz processor would have enough memory to compute some additional numbers. Alas, CoCoA stubbornly crashed (after several long hours) each time I instructed it to do so.

    So I ported the code to Macaulay2. It's even slower, which makes me suspicious that I'm missing something--after all, I am learning both languages, so I'm sure that in transliterating the code I managed to miss an obvious way to make it…

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