Archive for the University life Category

the Ramanujan machine

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2021 by xi'an

Nature of 4 Feb. 2021 offers a rather long (Nature-like) paper on creating Ramanujan-like expressions using an automated process. Associated with a cover in the first pages. The purpose of the AI is to generate conjectures of Ramanujan-like formulas linking famous constants like π or e and algebraic formulas like the novel polynomial continued fraction of 8/π²:

\frac{8}{{{\rm{\pi }}}^{2}}=1-\frac{2\times {1}^{4}-{1}^{3}}{7-\frac{2\times {2}^{4}-{2}^{3}}{19-\frac{2\times {3}^{4}-{3}^{3}}{37-\frac{2\times {4}^{4}-{4}^{3}}{\ldots }}}}

which currently remains unproven. The authors of the “machine” provide Python code that one can run to try uncover new conjectures, possibly named after the discoverer! The article is spending a large proportion of its contents to justify the appeal of generating such conjectures, with several unsuspected formulas later proven for real, but I remain unconvinced of the deeper appeal of the machine (as well as unhappy about the association of Ramanujan and machine, since S. Ramanujan had a mystical and unexplained relation to numbers, defeating Hardy’s logic,  “a mathematician of the highest quality, a man of altogether exceptional originality and power”). The difficulty is in separating worthwhile from anecdotal (true) conjectures, not to mention wrng conjectures. This is certainly of much deeper interest than separating chihuahua faces from blueberry muffins, but does it really “help to create mathematical knowledge”?

love thy command line [Bourne again]

Posted in Books, Kids, Linux, R, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2021 by xi'an

“Prebuilt into macOS and Unix systems (…) the command line (also called the shell) is a powerful text-based interface in which users issue terse instructions to create, find, sort and manipulate files, all without using the mouse. There are actually several distinct (…) shell systems, among the most popular of which [sic?] is Bash, an acronym for the ‘Bourne again shell’ (a reference to the Bourne shell, which it replaced in 1989).”

An hilarious rediscovery of the joys of shell (line) commands in Nature! Which I use by default for most operations on my computer, albeit far from expertly (despite the use of a cheat tee, from time to time!). One of the arguments in the article, “The mouse doesn’t scale,” is definitely mine as well. Among other marketing lines, wrangling files with no software interference (check), handling huge files (very rarely), manipulating spreadsheets (I don’t), parallelising work on remote servers (check), automate via cron (not anymore)…. Unsurprisingly, most of our students are never using terminals of command lines.

foundations of algorithmic fairness

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , on February 14, 2021 by xi'an

Just forwarding the announcement of an online workshop on algorithmic fairness, on 12 and 16 March (great idea to separate the two afternoons, GT-wise afternoons). It is organised by Paris, Genoa and Saarbrücken ELLIS units, and, although a member of the Paris unit, I am not involved in this event. (The speakers are pictured above.)

international day of women and girls in science

Posted in Kids, University life with tags , , , , , , , on February 11, 2021 by xi'an

why should I pay $350 for an on-line conference?!

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on February 11, 2021 by xi'an

Last year, I was invited to the SIAM-CSE20 conference for a session on ABC, in München, and was about ready to leave when the conference was posponed for pandemic reasons. My hotel in Garching charged me the entire stay, Danke sehr!,  and I am uncertain about having been fully reimbursed for the reservation. The conference is taking place this year as an on-line meeting and I got re-invited. However, when trying to register, I found that the fees were the same as last year. And did not see the point, given the possibility of delivering a high quality virtual conference for free!, except to support SIAM. Hence withdrew my participation to the meeting, which was not particularly high on my list anyway… (On the same day I received another invitation for an Insurance conference, but they got me confused with my namesake!)