Saturday, July 11, 2009

Re: arXiv:The Modern Cure For B.A.D Mathematicans?

This'll be a short one. But hopefully something I'll comment on more in the future.

I've found a terrific article by Professor Melvin Henriksen published in The Mathematical Intelligencer in 1993 and republished online at the Topology Atlas by him.Henriksen-if you're unfamiliar with him-is currently Professor Emertis at Harvey Mudd College and he's one of the few remaining active-sort of-mathematicans in one of my favorite areas of mathematics:point set topology. He's also published quite a bit in algebra,has been very active in historical aspects of mathematics and is currently one of the major overseers of the mammoth virtual site Math Forum supported by Drexel University.

The elitism in mathematics is nothing new-nor,sadly,is it unique to mathematics among academic endevors.Henriksen-never one to keep his opinions to himself-summed up the situation-and the reasons behind it-beautifully and informatively,in this article:

http://at.yorku.ca/t/o/p/c/10.htm



If anything,the situation has WORSENED since he wrote this article.When you mention certain branches of mathematics at some unmentionable universities that believe only the half a dozen places on Earth called "Ivies" are where civilized humans exist and everywhere else is untamed jungle with blood drinking,grunting barbarians with pieces of paper masquerading as educated humans-you actually get audible laughter. They don't even try to be kind about it. Why should they? Anyone who can't see that they're right is a fool and won't get promoted anywhere. At least,not if they have anything to say about it-and sadly,they do.

I'm currently investigating the possible role of general topology in additive number theory. To be honest,if arXiv-simply called "Archive" by most of us-didn't exist,I doubt I could publish it ANYWHERE. This remarkable tool has changed publishing forever through open access and free publishing in mathematics and physics with no formal refereeing-and therefore no monkey buisness. Any attempts to shut it down or seriously regulate it should be met with savage resistance. Such attempts at regulation has already begun in the form of the vote in 2004 by the Archive board to allow only preprints-presumably because copyright issues could arise that could jeapordize corporate profits. The bottom line is that it's begun-the attempts to control it.
(The copyrighting of concepts as property is a terrifying phenomenon that I hope to tackle in depth another time.Suffice to say this is a Pandora's Box that threatens all original thinking if it's not strictly controlled.)
It's a wonderful reality we live in currently in this regard-free publishing. Let's not let the B.A.D. crew wreck it like they've wreaked whatever doesn't serve thier purposes.
In other words,buisness as usual on Planet Earth.

3 comments:

Daavid said...

Hello, Andrew L. I uncovered your blog whilst viewing the CUNY Queens College Mathematics bulletin board. I must say -- I enjoy it immensely. However, it saddens me that you do not update the blog as much as you used to. As an undergraduate College student whose major is soon-to-be Mathematics, I'm able to relate to the majority of your entries, despite being unable to understand the complexities involved in Graduate-based Mathematics. Through your entries, I have read up on a variety of Mathematical texts and attempted to refine my knowledge. Furthermore, I've decided to take my undergraduate studies more rigorously(I did before, but now it's amplified).

Thank you for creating this wonderful blog and, I hope in the future, you post more entries. I'd love to read more of your opinions.

Regards,
An anonymous undergrad.

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Andrew L. said...

Dear Daavid,
First of all,thank you so much for your very kind comments.I,too,am VERY saddened I don't have time to update it as often as I want to. But having family obligations,my own illnesses and attempting to salvage a PHD from it has been eating all my time. I'm also enormously gratified that you're pursueing your studies with such vigor in an age of declining importance of eduction,which is leading to most scientists trained in the U.S. now to be foriegn born. This is a tragic sign of the twilight of America as a society other countries take seriously.
I hope to be updating the blog daily over the summer as I begin to prepare for my Master's oral exam in August.If you can,do me a favor:Join the QC Mathematics society if you haven't already and do as much active recruiting as you can. Most of us are graduating and I'd hate to see it die after that.
If you want to stay in touch with me,you can reach me on my Facebook page:I update that practically every day.
Keep the faith!
Sincerely,
Andrew L.