Sunday, September 23, 2018

Some Bits Crossing My Mind This Month

A miscellany today...:

1)  FIRST, in case you've been living under a rock... on the planet Zorka... in Galaxy 134-18B this last week and don't know, TOMORROW (Monday) Michael Atiyah is giving a 45-min. talk entitled simply, "The Riemann Hypothesis" at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, claiming "a simple proof using a radically new approach." I have no idea how serious of a "proof" this is (other than Atiyah being a serious mathematician, but still hard to take this at face-value, given how many radically new, simple approaches have already been tried). Either way, math cyberspace should be abuzz tomorrow with commentary following the presentation:

I believe the talk will be live-streamed and recorded at the HLF YouTube channel here:
Also, a couple of the Aperiodical bloggers will be in attendance and reporting on the meeting (I assume they'll check in after the dust settles, but maybe they'll do some live-blogging or tweeting  as well? -- surely there will be some live-tweeting from #HLF18).

==> ADDENDUM 9pm. 9/23... the proof, by contradiction, has now been posted here (h/t to @sigfpe on Twitter):

ADDENDUM II 9/24:  one of the live-tweeted threads from Atiyah's talk (now over) is here:

...needless to say, a lot of skepticism being expressed across the Web by those who understand the math/logic; no doubt there will be a lot more commentary today, and even if negative, much food-for-thought may still emerge from this.

2)  Speaking (loosely) of proofs... logician George Boolos would’ve been 78 this month… had he not died at the relatively young age of 55 in 1996. For any relative newbies, one of my favorite mathy pages on the Web is his famous, delightful single page explaining Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem “in words of one syllable” (worth reading for fun at least once every year!):

It can probably even make a nice introduction to Gödel for younger folks.

3)  Curses, curses, curses to Jordan Ellenberg who has gotten me regularly reading Martin Shkreli’s prison-composed blog, ever since Jordan cited it in a tweet.  I first wrote about it back here:

And in his 9/6/18 entry, after seeking help with some math he was working on, Shkreli ended by writing:

Thank you to all the professors, postdocs and other math professionals who have reached out to help me. It has been great to communicate with you all. Bear with me as I order my thoughts and respond in the limited way I can.”

I don’t know if this is bluster, bluff, or actuality, but if it is for real, I’d sure be curious to hear about what substantive math any “math professionals” have taken up with Martin, if you’d care to share? Ought to be some sort of interesting backstory there.

[...Also, Martin regularly recommends Bio-Pharm stocks to buy or avoid (or short), and even though I don't dabble in bio-pharm stocks myself I'd be curious if anyone else has found his judgments useful/profitable.]

4)  For those interested in cognition, science writer John Horgan has a new Web-accessible volume out on mind-body problems. I’ve enjoyed John’s writing in the past, but also tire a bit of this topic that seems forever shrouded in sound and fury, without much ever resolved. As John says, the book offers my subjective takes on my subjects’ subjective takes on subjectivity.” So I wasn’t expecting too much from his latest, but in fact enjoyed it immensely, partly because of the portraits it paints of specific diverse, fascinating thinkers; their foibles and makeup, in addition to their academic or cerebral selves, while delving into their thoughts on mind/body issues. You can read the whole volume here: 

…or you can download it from the Web for a small price.
There are probably many Douglas Hofstadter fans out there, so as one sample chapter, I recommend Chapter Two which is with Dr. Hofstadter (p.s… one small side-note that I learned here, and didn’t even realize before, is that David Chalmers did his PhD. under Hofstadter):

Speaking of books, Scott Alexander (just a bit behind the times) offers a long review of Nassim Taleb’s “The Black Swan” here (followed by 250+ comments):

5)  For those with the chops to follow it, Steve Strogatz recently passed along this history of the Langlands Program:


6)  And I'll close out with this gem that surfaced on my Twitter feed yesterday:

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