Hair in the book

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

There is a common joke in my country:

Q: Why aren’t you studying for your exams?

A: I can’t. I found a hair in my book and now I can’t open the book anymore because of the disgust.

I had a very similar experience few days ago while solving problems from the competition I mentioned earlier. From the very beginning, I tolerated poor English, wrong problem statements, but that day I found out that one of the problems in the list was trivial. It required absolutely no imagination, knowledge or idea whatsoever. Combined with an ad hominem argument I found out about the competition’s organizer, it made me close my notebook and toss the problem set in the wastebasket. I know it is silly, but it seemed to me that one trivial problem spoiled it all to me – now I would seek for triviality in every other problem – challenge would be ruined for good.

Categories: Uncategorized

The ninth art

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Bertrand Russell in Logicomix

I consider myself a comic book fan – although I’m not a collector anymore. Every now and then I choose something new – last time it was The Five Fists of Science, and now it’s Logicomix. While the former was an interesting read and nothing more, the latter one (which I read after recommendation from a friend) has been both an interesting read and a form of inspiration.

As you might recall, I wrote an SF story which has been rejected by the publishers. Personally, I’m extremely satisfied with its content, but its form seems too unnatural. After reading Logicomix, I realized that my story is meant to be a graphic novel! Now I just need an artist to help me do this – since I can’t draw a same face twice, which makes me a lousy comic book artist.

I’m aware that this story will not be the next bestseller as Logicomix was – but being a bestselling author is not my goal – I just want to tell the story.

Categories: Bookshelf


March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I miss the old days in high school: mathematical competitions, IMO qualifications, training, problem solving. Due to the fact that my home institution does not compete in any serious university-level mathematical competitions, there was no chance for me to try out that form of competitions.

Few days ago, I found an email in my mailbox – list of 30 mathematical problems – high school and undergraduate level, deadline for solutions – this fall. I almost forgot how pleasurable problem solving is – writing solutions on napkins, calculating while in the shower… Makes you feel alive again (it migt sound pathetic, but that is how I feel right now).

P.S. Today, I mailed my first IMO problem proposal to the committee. If I haven’t reached the immortals’ seat as the contestant (yep, my 2 IMOs were way down on the fail scale) I might catch it as the problem proposer. July 18/19 are the D days…

Categories: Uncategorized


January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Preferans, anyone?

Sometimes I miss the old days when I used to play computer games (point and click adventures and football management simulations mostly). Now there are only three games I play, both live and via PC: chess, go and preference (preferans). What made me write a post about games? Well, some people are trying to persuade some other people that poker is a sport on a forum – I couldn’t care less, to be honest – if they would just stop making the relationship between poker and mathematics so mysterious and blurry – and using that same relationship as an argument why poker is a sport. In the same time, I ask the poker advocate whether preferans is a sport – and he says no. I bet he had never played preferans – just like most people. Everyone played poker, everyone knows poker rules, but no one plays preferans. Now that’s a shame – no one plays go, no one plays preferans, and what a paradox – social games no one plays except for me make me more and more asocial!

Categories: Uncategorized

IMO & Google

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

IMO logo - knot theorist probably designed it

Google financed the organization of the International Mathematical Olympiad with $1,000,000 (link). Finally! Finally the market recognized the value of IMO. I usually frown upon attracting big sponsors to the world of science and education, commercializing it that way  – but in this case I will make an exception: Kudos, google!

Now, the problem of participating countries financing their trip and preparations of the team remains – we can just hope that after a global player has entered the game, local players will show some interest.

С днем рождения, Лев Давидович!

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Lev Davidovich Landau

It is Lev Landau’s birthday – and I wish to remind you all that this year we can expect the movie Dau (directed by Ilya Khrzhanovsky) in this year’s Cannes Festival. Until then, enjoy the book Krug Landau!

Categories: Vignette

Dear John

January 20, 2011 1 comment

Judd Hirsch - now everyone knows him as Alan Eppes from Numb3rs...

The following post has nothing to do with the “Dear John” TV show, as you might have guessed, seeing that screen shot. I just used the title – this post is inspired with John Baez’s latest post on Petri nets.

Very often I find the things I study as an EE student totally useless. Few weeks ago we had a lecture on Petri nets in the Distributed systems course – and today I read John’s excellent post about it. It reminded me of John’s TWF posts about analogies in various branches of physics (electrical engineers could enjoy it starting with week 289).

Thank you John for showing me that there are ways for a mathematician (I doubt I’m a mathematician, but I am certainly not an engineer either) to enjoy engineering courses.