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


  1. I don’t know Dan Teague, and probably never will. This means that unfortunately, the image I’ll be stuck with is of “Big Dan Teague” from the Coen brothers’ movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (the “cyclops” played by John Goodman).

    Comment by Todd Trimble | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. You know, I had the exact same thought. Great (or small) minds, eh?

    Comment by John Armstrong | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  3. I wasn’t there, but the program at states his name is Dan Rockmore, not Dan Teague. Dan Teague is from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and did a session on teaching calculus in high school, and Dan Rockmore is from Dartmouth, and gave the “Making Math out of Style” talk.

    Comment by Paul Hertz | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  4. Odd.. The introductory slide clearly said Teague.

    Comment by John Armstrong | January 7, 2009 | Reply

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