Blogging the JMM: Friday

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I love the exhibit hall. I love books, and the exhibit hall is full of some of my favorite kinds of books. I spend hours picking through the texts, flipping through their pages. The AMS sold me on a great book directed at undergraduates on Fourier analysis and an advanced text on Riemannian manifolds. In fact, they managed to photograph me mid-purchase! I also learned they are selling their first ever children’s book this spring.

I also love technology, especially mathematical technology, and the exhibit hall is full of mathematical technology. Wolfram Research always has the best swag. This year I scored a sweet deck of Mathematica cards from the Wolfram Research guys. Maplesoft was raffling various prizes, including an Apple laptop loaded with Maple 17. (They also offered a Maple workshop at the meetings which I signed up for, but it turns out it conflicted with a minicourse I participated in.) But my favorite technology exhibits are those of free, open source software projects like MathJax, Sage, and WeBWorK. There you can talk to the software developers themselves, ask them about design decisions and future directions for the software, discuss your potential uses and ask about best practices, complain about bugs, and learn tips and tricks you would never have otherwise discovered. Today I got a chance to talk to William Stein about the internal architecture of the notebook interface in his amazing new project SageMath Cloud, I told Jason Grout about an issue I had with the Sage Cell Server and asked him advice about mentoring student projects, and I got a great perspective from Peter Krautzberger about the widespread misunderstanding among professional mathematicians about modern browser technologies important for communicating math on the web.

I did manage to get to some talks. I gave a short talk in the Special Session on Geometric and Complex Analysis on results from a recent paper of mine, and I caught several of the other talks in this session.

The student poster session was in the late afternoon. It’s always a blast to talk to the students about their projects. It’s also a great way to get a feel for the kinds of projects undergraduates can work on if you are interested in mentoring student projects. The most impressive poster I saw was a project of a freshman Harvard student who investigated congruences in the coefficients of the Taylor series expansions of modular forms. This freshman student didn’t just regurgitate words she had recently learned, she seriously new her stuff–and her stuff is extraordinarily sophisticated. Unfortunately I didn’t catch her name.

The AWM poster session was also a lot of fun in part because several of my old friends from Texas A&M University where I did my PhD presented their research. (And who else should be there presenting a very impressive poster but Aly Deines, the number theorist from yesterday!)

In my last post I wondered which famous mathematician I would run into. The answer? Ken Ono, master of the partition function.