Joint Meeting

06Jan12

No, this is not about sharing joints (even in moderation).

This week I am at the joint meeting of the American Math Society and Math Association of America in Boston, MA. It is a huge conference with around 7000 participants, but more cohesive than many other mega-conferences including Informs and ISMP that I have visited.

The meeting takes place in two hotels and a conference center, right around the Prudential Centre mall. It is a brisk 7-minute walk between hotels which makes for some good exercise… but I am very happy that the walk is not too brisk, because it is entirely indoors.

The program is immense. Navigating the first two days was easy because I attended a mini-course of Joseph O’Rourke and Satyan Devadoss on discrete (and computational) geometry. I’ll talk some more about one thing from this mini-course once I get back home and find my camera.

The proper conference started on Wednesday and continues until Saturday. Here is one quotable moment from Jim Propp:

A proof is a conjecture’s way of making more conjectures.

(This is a riff on a classical quote.)

I tried going to one talk in a “history of mathematics” session, which I thought was interesting because it talked about intuition, computing, and proof. A pet theory I have about these concepts is that learning to program is good for mathematicians, because debugging a computer program can give some lessons about the importance of writing bug-free proofs. Instead, the talk was about the early history of automated proofs, and posited that Polya’s famous work on fundamental proof methods was actually motivated by early automated proof methods.

Image

Yesterday I gave a talk on discrete geometry using computational methods (pictured) and tomorrow I will give a talk about the Computer Science Circles website. In-between I have been mostly attending talks on graphs, bijections, and voting theory… and enjoying the fine coffee shops in and around Copley Square!

Update: I did two cool things with tools I heard of at a talk by Matthew Leingang. One, I now can use dlvr.it to have my RSS show up in Facebook automatically (sadly G+ seems impossible still). Two, I uploaded my education talk to slideshare.

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