The Priority of Education

Is not learning. Here’s a question. What’s the best outcome that can happen when you take a course? The most common answer (and one I would give myself) is to get 100%. To do everything perfectly, never making a mistake. Most students agree that this would be the ultimate goal. How could anything be better than getting a perfect grade? When you look back on a course, what do you think about? Chances are, the…

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Mathtimidation by analytic solution vs curse of computing by simulation

Recently, I was chatting with Patrick Ellsworth about the merits of simulation vs analytic solutions in evolutionary game theory. As you might expect from my old posts on the curse of computing, and my enjoyment of classifying games into dynamic regimes, I started with my typical argument against simulations. However, as I searched for a positive argument for analytic solutions of games, I realized that I didn’t have a good one. Instead, I arrived at…

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Climate change and compassion fatigue

I’m a climate scientist, and I don’t worry about climate change very much. I think about it every day, but I don’t let it in. To me climate change is a fascinating math problem, a symphony unfolding both slowly and quickly before our very eyes. The consequences of this math problem, for myself and my family and our future, I keep locked in a tiny box in my brain. The box rarely gets opened. The…

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A Splash of Colour

When giving a presentation, it’s difficult to present ideas in science or mathematics without the use of equations. It’s possible, but unless you’re exploring a geometry problem, you’re probably out of luck. If you want to get a message across to your audience that is more substantive than a bunch of emphatic adjectives about science, you need to use equations. Unfortunately, equations in presentations don’t have a habit of looking (How shall we say it?)…

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Methods and morals for mathematical modeling

About a year ago, Vincent Cannataro emailed me asking about any resources that I might have on the philosophy and etiquette of mathematical modeling and inference. As regular readers of TheEGG know, this topic fascinates me. But as I was writing a reply to Vincent, I realized that I don’t have a single post that could serve as an entry point to my musings on the topic. Instead, I ended up sending him an annotated…

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Industry will always be there

I dedicate this blog to my past, present and future post-docs and graduate students. Know that I’m proud of whichever career you choose. – AB *** When I was a teenager in the 1980’s, there were comparisons between two British new wave pop stars Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran and David Sylvian of Japan. While… Read More Industry will always be there

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Outside the Curriculum

Do you feel like you’re not getting enough out of what you do in class? Does mathematics feel boring, just a bunch of rules that you follow without more or less knowing why? I don’t blame you. This isn’t necessarily your teacher’s fault either. Instead, it’s a mentality that we’ve adopted with respect to your education. Take a bunch of mathematical concepts that are easy to test, and make students like you do lots of…

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Software monocultures, imperialism, and weapons of math destruction

This past Friday, Facebook reported that they suffered a security breach that affected at least 50 million users. ‘Security breach’ is a bit of newspeak that is meant to hint at active malice and attribute fault outside the company. But as far as I understand it — and I am no expert on this — it was just a series of three bugs in Facebook’s “View As” feature that together allowed people to get the…

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