Math journals and the fight over open access Friday, Jan 18 2013 

Some may have heard me talk about this before, but I’ve caught the open source bug. At least, I’ve caught the collaboration and free-dissemination bug. And I don’t just mean software – there’s much more to open source than software (even though the term open source originated in reference to free access to source code). I use open source to refer to the idea that when someone consumes a product, they should have access to the design and details of implementation, and should be able to freely distribute the product whenever this is possible. In some ways, I’m still learning. For example, though I use linux, I do not know enough about coding to contribute actual code to the linux/unix community. But I know just enough python to contribute to Sage, and do. And I’m getting better.

I also believe in open access, which feels like a natural extension. By open access, I mean free access to peer-reviewed scholarly journals and other materials. It stuns me that the public does not generally have access to publicly-funded research. How is this acceptable? Another thing that really gets to me is how selling overpriced and overlarge calculus textbooks can allow the author to do things like spend 30+ million dollars on his home? This should not happen. At least, it shouldn’t happen now, in the internet age. All the material is freely available in at least as good of a presentation, so the cost of the textbook is a compilation cost (not worth over $100). But these books are printed oversize, 1000+ pages, in full color and on 60-pound paper. That’s a recipe for high cost! It’s tremendously unfortunate, as it’s not as though the students even have a choice over what book they buy. But this is not the argument I want to make today, and I digress.

Recently, I was dragged down a rabbit hole. And what I saw when I emerged on the other side made me learn about a side of math journals I’d never seen before, and the fight over open access. I’d like to comment on this today – that’s after the fold.

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Three number theory bits: One elementary, the 3-Goldbach, and the ABC conjecture Friday, Jun 15 2012 

I’ve come to realize that I’m always tempted to start my posts with “Recently, I’ve…” or “So and so gave me such and such a problem…” or “I happened across this on…” It is as if my middle school English teachers (all of whom were excellent) succeeded so well in forcing me to transition from one idea to the next that I can’t help it even today. But, my respect for my middle school teachers aside, I think I’m going to try to avoid that here, and just sort of jump in.

Firstly, as announced at Terry Tao’s Blog, two new polymath items are on the horizon.  There is a new polymath proposal at the polymath blog on the “Hot Spots Conjecture”, proposed by Chris Evans, and that has already expanded beyond the proposal post into its first research discussion post. (To prevent clutter and to maintain a certain level or organization, the discussion gets cut up into 100-comment size chunks or so, and someone summarizes some of the key points in the header each time. I think it’s a brilliant model). And the mini-polymath organized around the IMO will happen at the wiki starting on July 12.

Now, onto some number theory – (more…)

Points under Parabola Thursday, Nov 24 2011 

In my last post, I mentioned I would post my article proper on WordPress. Someone then told me about latex2wp, a python script that will translate a tex file into something postable on WordPress. So I did it, and it works pretty well! Other than changing references (removing them) and a few stylistic things here and there, and any \begin{align} type environments, it works perfectly.

So here it is:

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Finding the Number of Lattice Points Under a Quadratic Thursday, Nov 24 2011 

I always keep an eye on the Polymath Projects, ever since I became interested in Polymath 4 (link to Polymath4 wiki). While I worked on Polymath4 as an REU student under Dr. Croot, I fell upon a method to ‘quickly’ count the number of lattice points under a quadratic (with no linear term and rational coefficient). Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to direct improvement, so I didn’t post it on the wiki.

But I did a short write-up of the method, and it’s here: Points under Parabola.

At some point, I’ll try to write it up on this blog proper.