The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider

Joint Meetings 2009 — Day 3

Today’s special session on homotopy theory and higher categories seems to have pushed its higher categories until the afternoon, so I got a chance to see Dan Teague (of Dartmouth) talk about “Making Math out of Style”.

This was rather interesting to me, since the jumping-off point was the identification of Pollack paintings by box-counting dimensions. I really liked this story when it came out, since it’s a great story to relate mathematics to art. The talk continued to discuss efforts to identify authorship of some of the Federalist Papers, and of one of the Wizard of Oz books. Then there was identifying forged Van Gogh paintings (which I think I saw on Scientific American Frontiers a few months ago). Neat stuff.

In the afternoon, John Baez led off, talking about the classifying space of a 2-group. I’ll also him later discussing groupoidification in the categorification and link homology. I wanted to make this post now in a bit of down time so I could remind people that I’ll be at Tryst at 8, and to pass on this bit of wisdom from Baez’ first talk: X is just M in a really weird font.

[UPDATE]: Paul is right in his comment below. Dan Rockmore gave the talk, and Dan Teague introduced him. I met someone else the next day who confirmed both this fact and that he was initially confused by it as well.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Joint Meetings 2009 — day 2

Today was a little thin. I had to meet someone in the exhibit hall when it opened, and the talks I saw after that in the morning were sort of lackluster. After lunch I saw a couple topology and applied mathematics talks, but then had to head off for another meeting about a job prospect. After that rather than sticking around for Mikhail Khovanov’s invited address (I probably know what he’d say anyway), I decided to hit the metro and try to beat the beltway traffic.

One talk in the early morning caught my attention. David Clark talked about the functoriality of the \mathfrak{sl}_3 analogue of Khovanov homology (which is based around \mathfrak{sl}_2. The talk itself I don’t care to talk about much here, but I was glad to see that the first step was to pass from links to tangles, and to treat them as the natural setting. Now if I can just get the term “tangle covariant” to catch on…

Oh, I wasn’t able to join the Secret Blogging Seminar’s drinking tonight. Tomorrow night, however, I’m thinking I’ll be at Tryst. I’m done with special sessions by 6, and I’ll be wanting to have dinner of course. So I’ll say “8 PM”. Here’s a map.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment