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31                <title>Finite configurations in sparse sets</title>
32                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/finite-configurations-in-sparse-sets/</link>
33                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/finite-configurations-in-sparse-sets/#comments</comments>
34                <pubDate>Wed, 03 Jul 2013 17:30:43 +0000</pubDate>
35                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
36                                <category><![CDATA[mathematics: research]]></category>
37
38                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3458</guid>
39                <description><![CDATA[One more paper finished: &#8220;Finite configurations in sparse sets,&#8221; joint with Vincent Chan and Malabika Pramanik. The paper is available here, and here is the arXiv link. Very briefly, the question we consider is the following. Let be a closed set of Hausdorff dimension . Given a system of matrices for some $m \geq n$, [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3458&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
40                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>One more paper finished: &#8220;Finite configurations in sparse sets,&#8221; joint with Vincent Chan and Malabika Pramanik. <a href="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/kptpatterns.pdf">The paper is available here</a>, and <a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.1174">here is the arXiv link</a>.</p>
41<p>Very briefly, the question we consider is the following. Let <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E+%5Csubseteq+%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E &#92;subseteq &#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='E &#92;subseteq &#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' /> be a closed set of Hausdorff dimension <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Calpha&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;alpha' title='&#92;alpha' class='latex' />. Given a system of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=n+%5Ctimes+%28m-n%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='n &#92;times (m-n)' title='n &#92;times (m-n)' class='latex' /> matrices <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=B_1%2C+...+%2CB_k&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='B_1, ... ,B_k' title='B_1, ... ,B_k' class='latex' /> for some $m \geq n$, must <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> contain a &#8220;non-trivial&#8221; k-point configuration</p>
42<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%281%29%5C+%5C+%5C++x+%2B+B_1+y%2C%5C+...%2C%5C+x+%2B+B_k+y&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(1)&#92; &#92; &#92;  x + B_1 y,&#92; ...,&#92; x + B_k y' title='(1)&#92; &#92; &#92;  x + B_1 y,&#92; ...,&#92; x + B_k y' class='latex' /></p>
43<p>for some <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=x+%5Cin+%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='x &#92;in &#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='x &#92;in &#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' /> and <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=y+%5Cin+%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5E%7Bm-n%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='y &#92;in &#92;mathbb{R}^{m-n}' title='y &#92;in &#92;mathbb{R}^{m-n}' class='latex' />? </p>
44<p>In general, the answer is no, even when <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Calpha%3Dn&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;alpha=n' title='&#92;alpha=n' class='latex' />. For instance, Keleti has constructed 1-dimensional subsets of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}' title='&#92;mathbb{R}' class='latex' /> that do not contain a similar copy of any given triple of points <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%28x%2Cy%2Cz%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(x,y,z)' title='(x,y,z)' class='latex' /> (in fact, his construction can avoid all similar copies of all such triples from a given sequence), as well as 1-dimensional subsets of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}' title='&#92;mathbb{R}' class='latex' /> that do not contain any non-trivial &#8220;parallelograms&#8221; <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5C%7Bx%2C+x%2By%2C+x%2Bx%2C+x%2By%2Bz%5C%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;{x, x+y, x+x, x+y+z&#92;}' title='&#92;{x, x+y, x+x, x+y+z&#92;}' class='latex' />. In <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}^2' title='&#92;mathbb{R}^2' class='latex' />, given any three distinct points <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a%2Cb%2Cc&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a,b,c' title='a,b,c' class='latex' />, Maga has constructed examples of sets of dimension 2 that do not contain any similar copy of the triangle <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=abc&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='abc' title='abc' class='latex' />; he also constructed sets of full dimension in <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' />, for any <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=n%5Cgeq+2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='n&#92;geq 2' title='n&#92;geq 2' class='latex' />, that do not contain non-trivial parallelograms.</p>
45<p>Additive combinatorics suggests, however, that sets that are &#8220;random&#8221; in an appropriate sense should he better behaved in that regard. Along these lines, Malabika Pramanik and I proved in an earlier paper that if <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E%5Csubset+%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E&#92;subset &#92;mathbb{R}' title='E&#92;subset &#92;mathbb{R}' class='latex' /> has dimension close enough to 1, and if it also supports a measure obeying appropriate dimensionality and Fourier decay estimates, then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> must contain a non-trivial 3-term arithmetic progression. The same proof applies to any other configuration <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=x%2Cy%2Cz&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='x,y,z' title='x,y,z' class='latex' />, with the dimension bound depending on the choice of configuration.</p>
46<p>This paper gives a multidimensional analogue of that result. We define, via conditions on the matrices <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=B_j&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='B_j' title='B_j' class='latex' />, a class of configurations that can be controlled by Fourier-analytic estimates. (Roughly, they must have enough degrees of freedom, and they must be &#8220;non-degenerate&#8221; in an appropriate sense.) For such <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=B_j&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='B_j' title='B_j' class='latex' />, if <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E%5Csubset+%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E&#92;subset &#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='E&#92;subset &#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' /> has dimension close enough to <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='n' title='n' class='latex' />, and if it supports a measure with dimensionality and Fourier decay conditions similar to those in my paper with Pramanik, then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> must indeed contain a non-trivial configuration as in (1).</p>
47<p>The main new difficulty is dealing with the complicated geometry of the problem. There&#8217;s a lot of linear algebra, multiple coordinate systems, multilinear forms, and a lot of estimates on integrals where the integrand decays at different rates in different directions. At one point, we were actually using a partition of unity similar to those I remembered from my work in multiparticle scattering theory a very long time ago. That didn&#8217;t make it into the final version, though &#8211; we found a better way.</p>
48<p>I won&#8217;t try to state the conditions on <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=B_j&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='B_j' title='B_j' class='latex' /> here &#8211; they&#8217;re somewhat complicated and you&#8217;ll have to download the paper for that &#8211; but I&#8217;ll mention a few special cases of our theorem.</p>
49<ul>
50<li><b>Triangles in</b> <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}^2' title='&#92;mathbb{R}^2' class='latex' />. Let <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a%2Cb%2Cc&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a,b,c' title='a,b,c' class='latex' /> be three distinct points in the plane. Suppose that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E%5Csubset%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E&#92;subset&#92;mathbb{R}^2' title='E&#92;subset&#92;mathbb{R}^2' class='latex' /> satisfies the assumptions of our main theorem. Then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> must contain three distinct points <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=x%2Cy%2Cz&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='x,y,z' title='x,y,z' class='latex' /> such that the triangle <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Ctriangle+xyz&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;triangle xyz' title='&#92;triangle xyz' class='latex' /> is a similar (possibly rotated) copy of the triangle <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Ctriangle+abc&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;triangle abc' title='&#92;triangle abc' class='latex' />.
51<li><b>Colinear triples in</b> <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' />. Let <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a%2Cb%2Cc&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a,b,c' title='a,b,c' class='latex' /> be three distinct colinear points in <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' />. Assume that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E%5Csubset%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E&#92;subset&#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='E&#92;subset&#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' /> satisfies the assumptions of our main theorem. Then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> must contain three distinct points <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=x%2Cy%2Cz&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='x,y,z' title='x,y,z' class='latex' /> that form a similar image of the triple <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a%2Cb%2Cc&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a,b,c' title='a,b,c' class='latex' />.
52<li><b>Parallelograms in</b> <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='&#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' />. Assume that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E%5Csubset%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5En&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E&#92;subset&#92;mathbb{R}^n' title='E&#92;subset&#92;mathbb{R}^n' class='latex' /> satisfies the assumptions of our main theorem. Then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> contains a parallelogram <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5C%7Bx%2Cx%2By%2Cx%2Bz%2Cx%2By%2Bz%5C%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;{x,x+y,x+z,x+y+z&#92;}' title='&#92;{x,x+y,x+z,x+y+z&#92;}' class='latex' />, where the four points are all distinct.
53</ul>
54<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3458/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3458/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3458&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
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63                <title>Visibility of unrectifiable planar sets</title>
64                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/visibility-of-unrectifiable-planar-sets/</link>
65                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/visibility-of-unrectifiable-planar-sets/#comments</comments>
66                <pubDate>Tue, 25 Jun 2013 00:24:39 +0000</pubDate>
67                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
68                                <category><![CDATA[mathematics: research]]></category>
69
70                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3432</guid>
71                <description><![CDATA[Matt Bond, Josh Zahl and I have just completed a new paper &#8220;Quantitative visibility estimates for unrectiable sets in the plane,&#8221; now available on the arXiv. This post is an informal introduction to the paper; for more details, you will need to download the actual article. There are several questions known as &#8220;visibility problems&#8221;, and [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3432&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
72                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Matt Bond, Josh Zahl and I have just completed a new paper &#8220;Quantitative visibility estimates for unrectiable sets in the plane,&#8221; <a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/1306.5469">now available on the arXiv</a>. This post is an informal introduction to the paper; for more details, you will need to download the actual article.</p>
73<p>There are several questions known as &#8220;visibility problems&#8221;, and the one we address is the following. We are given a compact set <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> in the plane, and a point <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> not in <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' />. Define <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a' title='P_a' class='latex' /> to be the radial projection from <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />:</p>
74<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28x%29+%3D+%5Cfrac%7Bx-a%7D%7B%7Cx-a%7C%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(x) = &#92;frac{x-a}{|x-a|}' title='P_a(x) = &#92;frac{x-a}{|x-a|}' class='latex' /></p>
75<p>Then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(E)' title='P_a(E)' class='latex' /> is the set of angles at which <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> is visible from <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />. Our &#8220;visibility problem&#8221; is then to estimate the size of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%7CP_a%28E%29%7C&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='|P_a(E)|' title='|P_a(E)|' class='latex' />, or equivalently, the proportion of the part of the field of vision that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> takes up for an observer situated at <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />.  </p>
76<p>One class of sets that we will study is 1-dimensional unrectifiable self-similar sets. A good example to keep in mind is the &#8220;4-corner set,&#8221; constructed via a Cantor iteration as follows. Start with a square, divide in into 16 congruent squares, and keep the 4 small squares at the corners, discarding the rest. Repeat the same procedure for each of the 4 small surviving squares, then iterate the construction. The first and second stage of the iteration are shown below. </p>
77<p><a href="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/4corners1.jpg"><img src="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/4corners1.jpg?w=300" alt="4corners1" width="300" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-3436" /></a></p>
78<p><a href="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/4corners2.jpg"><img src="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/4corners2.jpg?w=300" alt="4corners2" width="300" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-3434" /></a></p>
79<p>We will use <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K_n' title='K_n' class='latex' /> for the <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='n' title='n' class='latex' />-th iteration of this set, and <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' /> for the Cantor set <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K+%3D+%5Cbigcap_%7Bn%3D1%7D%5E%5Cinfty+K_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K = &#92;bigcap_{n=1}^&#92;infty K_n' title='K = &#92;bigcap_{n=1}^&#92;infty K_n' class='latex' />. </p>
80<p>What can we say about the visibility of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' /> from points <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> in the plane? We will assume that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a+%5Cnotin+K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a &#92;notin K' title='a &#92;notin K' class='latex' />, so as to avoid trivial debates over whether a point is visible from itself. We will be asking this question in terms of the size of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28K%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(K)' title='P_a(K)' class='latex' />, as expressed in terms of its Lebesgue measure and/or Hausdorff dimension. </p>
81<p><span id="more-3432"></span></p>
82<p>It&#8217;s easy to see that for every <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />, the set <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28K%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(K)' title='P_a(K)' class='latex' /> has dimension at least 1/2. This is because at least one of the sides of the &#8220;outer square&#8221; is visible from <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> at a non-zero angle, and <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' /> intersects each of these sides in a set of dimension 1/2. Can we say more than that? What about the upper bounds? There are directions (e.g. slope 1/2) where the <i>linear</i> projection of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' /> has positive Lebesgue measure; can that happen for <i>radial</i> projections?</p>
83<p><b>Upper bounds.</b> Using projective transformations (to convert linear projections to radial projections), it is easy to deduce from Marstrand&#8217;s projection theorem that a purely unrectifiable 1-dimensional set <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> is invisible from almost every point: <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%7CP_a%28E%29%7C%3D0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='|P_a(E)|=0' title='|P_a(E)|=0' class='latex' /> for Lebesgue-a.e. <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a%5Cin+%7B%5Cbf+R%7D%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a&#92;in {&#92;bf R}^2' title='a&#92;in {&#92;bf R}^2' class='latex' />. Marstrand (1954) proved the stronger result that the set of exceptional points from which <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> is visible can have Hausdorff dimension at most one, and gave an example showing that a 1-dimensional set of exceptional points is indeed possible.</p>
84<p>That does not, however, happen for self-similar sets such as <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' />. Simon and Solomyak (2006) proved that 1-dimensional unrectifiable self-similar sets are in fact invisible from every point: we have <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%7CP_a%28K%29%7C%3D0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='|P_a(K)|=0' title='|P_a(K)|=0' class='latex' /> for all <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a%5Cin+%7B%5Cbf+R%7D%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a&#92;in {&#92;bf R}^2' title='a&#92;in {&#92;bf R}^2' class='latex' />. The underlying principle is that, for self-similar sets, radial projections are better behaved than e.g. linear projections because they have averaging over angles built into them already. This will be a recurring theme in this work.</p>
85<p><b>Lower bounds.</b> Using Marstrand&#8217;s theorem and projective transformations again, it&#8217;s easy to see that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(E)' title='P_a(E)' class='latex' /> has dimension 1 for Lebesgue-a.e. <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> in the plane. There&#8217;s no lower bound on how small <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(E)' title='P_a(E)' class='latex' /> can be for the exceptional points. For example, we could take <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> to be a product of two Cantor sets in polar coordinates <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=r&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='r' title='r' class='latex' /> and <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Ctheta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;theta' title='&#92;theta' class='latex' />, of dimension <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=1-%5Calpha&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='1-&#92;alpha' title='1-&#92;alpha' class='latex' /> and <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Calpha&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;alpha' title='&#92;alpha' class='latex' /> respectively; then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_0%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_0(E)' title='P_0(E)' class='latex' /> has dimension <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Calpha&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;alpha' title='&#92;alpha' class='latex' />, which could be any number between 0 and 1, endpoints included. (In an extreme case, <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> could lie on a line, and then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(E)' title='P_a(E)' class='latex' /> would consist of a single point for every <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> on the same line. But then <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> would not be unrectifiable.)</p>
86<p>For self-similar sets, however, the stronger statement is true that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=P_a%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='P_a(E)' title='P_a(E)' class='latex' /> has Hausdorff dimension 1 for every <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />. This is a consequence of recent deep results of Hochman and Hochman-Shmerkin. The argument was pointed out to us by Mike Hochman, and we&#8217;re grateful to him for allowing us to include it in our paper.</p>
87<p><b>Quantitative upper bounds.</b> This brings us to the main subject of our paper, namely quantitative visibility bounds. We start with upper bounds for self-similar sets such as <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' />. Recall that <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K_n' title='K_n' class='latex' /> is the n-th Cantor iteration of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' />. The result of Simon and Solomyak implies that </p>
88<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%7CP_a%28K_n%29%7C+%5Cto+0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='|P_a(K_n)| &#92;to 0' title='|P_a(K_n)| &#92;to 0' class='latex' /> as <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=n+%5Cto+%5Cinfty&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='n &#92;to &#92;infty' title='n &#92;to &#92;infty' class='latex' />. </p>
89<p>What about the rate of decay? It turns out that this can indeed be quantified. In the case of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K_n' title='K_n' class='latex' />, we prove that</p>
90<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%281%29+%5C+%5C+%7CP_a%28K_n%29%7C+%5Cleq+C_p+%28+%5Clog+n%29%5E%7B-p%7D%2C+&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(1) &#92; &#92; |P_a(K_n)| &#92;leq C_p ( &#92;log n)^{-p}, ' title='(1) &#92; &#92; |P_a(K_n)| &#92;leq C_p ( &#92;log n)^{-p}, ' class='latex' /></p>
91<p>for any <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=p+%3C+1%2F12&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='p &lt; 1/12' title='p &lt; 1/12' class='latex' />. This is a consequence of the following result. Let <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=Fav+%28E%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='Fav (E)' title='Fav (E)' class='latex' /> be the Favard length of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' />, that is, the average (with respect to angle) length of its linear projections. Then if <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' /> is a self-similar set defined by homotheties with equal contraction ratios, and <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E_n' title='E_n' class='latex' /> is its <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='n' title='n' class='latex' />-th iteration, we have</p>
92<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%282%29+%5C+%5C++%7CP_a%28E_n%29%7C+%5Cleq+C_1+%5Csqrt%7B+Fav%28E_%7BC_2%5Clog+n%7D%29%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(2) &#92; &#92;  |P_a(E_n)| &#92;leq C_1 &#92;sqrt{ Fav(E_{C_2&#92;log n})}' title='(2) &#92; &#92;  |P_a(E_n)| &#92;leq C_1 &#92;sqrt{ Fav(E_{C_2&#92;log n})}' class='latex' /></p>
93<p>with the constants uniform for <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> in a fixed compact set disjoint from <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' />. Combining this with the known Favard length estimate for <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K_n' title='K_n' class='latex' /> (due to Nazarov, Peres and Volberg), we get (1). For general self-similar sets defined by homotheties with equal contraction ratios, we can instead use a result of Bond and Volberg to estimate the right side of (2), and get that</p>
94<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%283%29+%5C+%5C+%7CP_a%28E_n%29%7C+%5Cleq+C_1+%5Cexp+%28-+C_2+%5Csqrt%7B+%5Clog+%5Clog+n%7D+%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(3) &#92; &#92; |P_a(E_n)| &#92;leq C_1 &#92;exp (- C_2 &#92;sqrt{ &#92;log &#92;log n} )' title='(3) &#92; &#92; |P_a(E_n)| &#92;leq C_1 &#92;exp (- C_2 &#92;sqrt{ &#92;log &#92;log n} )' class='latex' /></p>
95<p>The constants in (1)-(3) can be taken to be independent of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> if <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' /> is restricted to a compact set disjoint from <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E' title='E' class='latex' />. If the self-similar set is defined by more general similitudes, with rotations and/or different contraction ratios, we can still get a weaker analogue of (2), but unfortunately no effective Favard length estimates are available in this case.</p>
96<p><b>Quantitative lower bounds.</b> Here, we consider a wider class of &#8220;discrete unrectifiable 1-sets&#8221; defined in the paper. This includes <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta' title='&#92;delta' class='latex' />-neighbourhoods of self-similar sets as above, but also other more general examples such as diffeomorphic images of self-similar sets. For example, <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta' title='&#92;delta' class='latex' />-neighbourhoods of 1-dimensional unrectifiable product Cantor sets in polar coordinates fall in this category.</p>
97<p>If <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=E_%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='E_&#92;delta' title='E_&#92;delta' class='latex' /> is discretized on scale <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta' title='&#92;delta' class='latex' /> (essentially, a union of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta' title='&#92;delta' class='latex' />-balls), we clearly have <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%7CP_a%28E_%5Cdelta+%29%7C%5Cgeq+%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='|P_a(E_&#92;delta )|&#92;geq &#92;delta' title='|P_a(E_&#92;delta )|&#92;geq &#92;delta' class='latex' /> for all points <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />. In general, we cannot say much more about visibility from any individual point: it could be as small as <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta%5E%7B1-%5Cepsilon%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta^{1-&#92;epsilon}' title='&#92;delta^{1-&#92;epsilon}' class='latex' /> for any <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cepsilon%3E0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;epsilon&gt;0' title='&#92;epsilon&gt;0' class='latex' />. (This can be seen by considering the above example of product sets in polar coordinates, where the &#8220;angular&#8221; dimension is <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cepsilon&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;epsilon' title='&#92;epsilon' class='latex' />.) However, it is reasonable to expect that the set of points of low visibility should be small. </p>
98<p>In that regard, we have the following result. Let <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Clambda+%5Cin+%280%2C1%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;lambda &#92;in (0,1)' title='&#92;lambda &#92;in (0,1)' class='latex' />, and let <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=F%5Csubset+%5Cmathbb%7BR%7D%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='F&#92;subset &#92;mathbb{R}^2' title='F&#92;subset &#92;mathbb{R}^2' class='latex' /> be a compact set. Then </p>
99<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%284%29+%5C+%5C+%7C%5C%7Ba%5Cin+F+%5Ccolon+%7CP_a%28E_%5Cdelta%29%7C+%3C+%5Clambda+%5C%7D%7C++%5Cleq+C_1%7C+%5Clog+%5Cdelta%7C%5E%7BC_2%7D+%5Clambda%5E%7B2%7D.&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(4) &#92; &#92; |&#92;{a&#92;in F &#92;colon |P_a(E_&#92;delta)| &lt; &#92;lambda &#92;}|  &#92;leq C_1| &#92;log &#92;delta|^{C_2} &#92;lambda^{2}.' title='(4) &#92; &#92; |&#92;{a&#92;in F &#92;colon |P_a(E_&#92;delta)| &lt; &#92;lambda &#92;}|  &#92;leq C_1| &#92;log &#92;delta|^{C_2} &#92;lambda^{2}.' class='latex' /></p>
100<p>If moreover <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Clambda+%3C+%5Cdelta%5E%7B1%2F2-%5Cepsilon_0%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;lambda &lt; &#92;delta^{1/2-&#92;epsilon_0}' title='&#92;lambda &lt; &#92;delta^{1/2-&#92;epsilon_0}' class='latex' /> for some <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cepsilon_0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;epsilon_0' title='&#92;epsilon_0' class='latex' /> small enough, then there is an <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cepsilon_1%3E0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;epsilon_1&gt;0' title='&#92;epsilon_1&gt;0' class='latex' /> such that </p>
101<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%285%29+%5C+%5C+%7C%5C%7Ba%5Cin+F+%5Ccolon+%7CP_a%28E_%5Cdelta%29%7C+%3C+%5Clambda+%5C%7D%7C++%5Cleq+C_1%7C+%5Clog+%5Cdelta%7C%5E%7BC_2%7D+%5Clambda%5E%7B2%2B%5Cepsilon_1%7D.&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(5) &#92; &#92; |&#92;{a&#92;in F &#92;colon |P_a(E_&#92;delta)| &lt; &#92;lambda &#92;}|  &#92;leq C_1| &#92;log &#92;delta|^{C_2} &#92;lambda^{2+&#92;epsilon_1}.' title='(5) &#92; &#92; |&#92;{a&#92;in F &#92;colon |P_a(E_&#92;delta)| &lt; &#92;lambda &#92;}|  &#92;leq C_1| &#92;log &#92;delta|^{C_2} &#92;lambda^{2+&#92;epsilon_1}.' class='latex' /></p>
102<p>We also have analogues of (4) and (5) for sets of dimension <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Calpha+%5Cin+%280%2C1%29&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;alpha &#92;in (0,1)' title='&#92;alpha &#92;in (0,1)' class='latex' />; see the article for the definitions and numerology. The first estimate (4) is proved using <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=L%5E2&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='L^2' title='L^2' class='latex' /> incidence combinatorics; (5) starts similarly, but the additional key ingredient is Bourgain&#8217;s &#8220;discretized Marstrand projection estimate&#8221;.</p>
103<p>In the case of self-similar sets such as <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' />, we identify <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K_n&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K_n' title='K_n' class='latex' /> with a <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta' title='&#92;delta' class='latex' />-neighbourhood of <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='K' title='K' class='latex' /> (in this case, <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cdelta%3D4%5E%7B-n%7D&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;delta=4^{-n}' title='&#92;delta=4^{-n}' class='latex' />). The dimensionality result mentioned above implies that for every <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a+%5Cnotin+K&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a &#92;notin K' title='a &#92;notin K' class='latex' />, and for every <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%5Cepsilon%3E0&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='&#92;epsilon&gt;0' title='&#92;epsilon&gt;0' class='latex' />, we have</p>
104<p><img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=%286%29+%5C+%5C+%7CP_a%28K_n%29%7C+%5Cgeq+C%28a%2C%5Cepsilon%29+4%5E%7B-n%5Cepsilon%7D.&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='(6) &#92; &#92; |P_a(K_n)| &#92;geq C(a,&#92;epsilon) 4^{-n&#92;epsilon}.' title='(6) &#92; &#92; |P_a(K_n)| &#92;geq C(a,&#92;epsilon) 4^{-n&#92;epsilon}.' class='latex' /></p>
105<p>Pointwise, (6) is stronger than (4) or (5). On the other hand, (6) is not uniform in <img src='http://s0.wp.com/latex.php?latex=a&amp;bg=ffffff&amp;fg=000000&amp;s=0' alt='a' title='a' class='latex' />, therefore does not provide any estimates on the size of sets in (4), (5).</p>
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123                <title>The limits of writing for free</title>
124                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/the-limits-of-writing-for-free/</link>
125                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/the-limits-of-writing-for-free/#comments</comments>
126                <pubDate>Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:23:59 +0000</pubDate>
127                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
128                                <category><![CDATA[academia]]></category>
129                <category><![CDATA[research funding]]></category>
130                <category><![CDATA[science]]></category>
131                <category><![CDATA[writing]]></category>
132
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134                <description><![CDATA[Earlier this year, and to the disgust of much of the science writing community, Jonah Lehrer gave a speech at the Knight Foundation in which he apologized for his misdeeds. He was paid 20K for the appearance. Lehrer, you might recall, is the bestselling science writer who recycled old articles for pay, plagiarized stuff, and [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3388&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
135                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Earlier this year, and <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23worth20K&amp;src=hash">to the disgust of much of the science writing community</a>, Jonah Lehrer <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/204136/jonah-lehrer-apologizes-makes-everyone-angrier/">gave a speech at the Knight Foundation</a> in which he apologized for his misdeeds. He was paid 20K for the appearance. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah_Lehrer">Lehrer</a>, you might recall, is the bestselling science writer who <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/187249/wired-investigator-finds-dozens-more-examples-of-jonah-lehrer-plagiarism-recycling/">recycled old articles for pay</a>, <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/08/jonah_lehrer_plagiarism_in_wired_com_an_investigation_into_plagiarism_quotes_and_factual_inaccuracies_.single.html">plagiarized stuff</a>, and <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/183298/jonah-lehrer-accused-of-fabricating-bob-dylan-quotes-in-imagine/">fabricated Dylan quotes he used in one of his books</a>. </p>
136<p>That&#8217;s the first data point. The second one is more recent. Last month, Nate Thayer started a lively debate on the future of journalism by <a href="http://natethayer.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-freelance-journalist-2013/"> publishing an email exchange between himself and an Atlantic editor who asked for an article for free</a>. See for instance <a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2013/03/05/the-problem-with-online-freelance-journalism/">this analysis by Felix Salmon</a> and <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/03/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-digital-editor-2013/273763/">a must-read response from Alexis Madrigal</a>. But the article I&#8217;d like to highlight is Ezra Klein&#8217;s <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/10/revenge-of-the-sources/">&#8220;Revenge of the sources&#8221;</a>:</p>
137<blockquote><p>
138<i></p>
139<p>The salaries of professional journalists are built upon our success in convincing experts of all kinds working for exposure rather than pay. Now those experts have found a way to work for exposure without going through professional journalists, creating a vast expansion in the quantity and quality of content editors can get for free. [...]</p>
140<p>Now, the people who were once sources can write their own blogs, or they send op-ed submissions or even feature articles to editors looking for vastly more content. Think about Brad DeLong’s blog, Marginal Revolution, or the Monkey Cage. This work often doesn’t pay — at least not at first — but it offers a much more reliable, predictable and controllable form of exposure. It’s a direct relationship with an audience rather than one mediated by a professional journalist.</p>
141<p></i>
142</p></blockquote>
143<p>Time for the third and last data point. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the <a href="http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/about/Pages/aboutus.aspx">&#8220;main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences&#8221;</a>, declares in its <a href="http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/FundingGuide.pdf">funding guide</a> (page 32) that:</p>
144<blockquote><p>
145<i>Investigators are expected to participate in activities that seek to engage the public with engineering and science. Results from individual research projects may provide opportunities to engage the public through various forms of media communication.<br />
146</i>
147</p></blockquote>
148<p>In official terminology, this is <a href="http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/kei/impacts/Pages/peimpact.aspx">Public Engagement</a>, part of something called <a href="http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/guidance/preparing/Pages/economicimpact.aspx">Pathways to Impact</a> which is a mandatory component of a grant application. <a href="http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Publications/reports/PEguideAug11.pdf">This guide</a> advises the researchers &#8211; among other things &#8211; to plan a public engagement strategy, develop &#8220;an activity timeline or Gantt chart&#8221; (?), and &#8220;[t]hink about [their] public engagement role as one that is ongoing&#8221;. (On paper at least, this seems to go quite a bit beyond NSF&#8217;s &#8220;broad impact&#8221;. While &#8220;public engagement&#8221; is listed as only one way of fulfilling the &#8220;impact&#8221; requirements, in practice many researchers might not have other options available.)</p>
149<p>In other words, academics are told to practice journalism for free &#8211; the same thing to which Nate Thayer and others reacted so strongly.</p>
150<p><span id="more-3388"></span></p>
151<p>Science is beautiful and awesome, and talking about it can be one of the most satisfying things we ever do in this profession. I get it that the general public, having paid for our science through taxes, deserves to be informed of what we do. It&#8217;s also clear, for example from the proliferation of science websites, that there is considerable demand for science writing and genuine interest in the subject. More and more often, readers seek out the original sources instead of indirect reporting. They want to hear from the scientists themselves. I&#8217;m happy about that. I&#8217;d love to tell them about my research area and my own work. And Klein does have a point about the benefits of having one&#8217;s own public voice. </p>
152<p>It&#8217;s a common myth that scientists need to be &#8220;sold&#8221; on blogging and public exposure in general, that they need to be convinced of its benefits, persuaded that they might enjoy it. The first problem with this is that I haven&#8217;t observed scientists showing any kind of group-think in this regard. Some ignore popular writing and the blogosphere, others are enthusiastic about it. The second problem is that, even if we&#8217;re already ardent believers in science communication, blogging and public outreach, even if we know that we&#8217;re good at it and that we&#8217;d enjoy it, <i>it is not what we are required and paid to do.</i> We have full-time jobs already. We do what we can in our free time, but sometimes we just hit a brick wall: there aren&#8217;t enough hours in a week, our brain needs rest after the intensity of research work, or (often) both.</p>
153<p>I can only think of it as naive and uninformed when Klein writes that academics &#8220;have day jobs that are happy to subsidize the time they spending [sic] working for media exposure,&#8221;. (Then again, he also says that &#8220;anybody can write.&#8221;) I&#8217;m reminded, among other things, of <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/01/03/the-least-stressful-jobs-of-2013/">Susan Adams&#8217;s infamous piece in Forbes</a>:</p>
154<blockquote><p>
155<i><br />
156University professors have a lot less stress than most of us. <b>Update: Well maybe not, see ADDENDUM below.</b> Unless they teach summer school, they are off between May and September and they enjoy long breaks during the school year, including a month over Christmas and New Year’s and another chunk of time in the spring. Even when school is in session they don’t spend too many hours in the classroom. For tenure-track professors, there is some pressure to publish books and articles, but deadlines are few. Working conditions tend to be cozy and civilized and there are minimal travel demands, except perhaps a non-mandatory conference or two. As for compensation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for professors is $62,000, not a huge amount of money but enough to live on, especially in a university town.<br />
157</i>
158</p></blockquote>
159<p>The &#8220;addendum&#8221; &#8211; &#8220;retraction&#8221; would have been a better word &#8211; was added after Adams and her publisher Forbes received numerous comments explaining in detail what a professor&#8217;s timetable actually looks like and pointing to blog posts on the subject. Just follow the links from the addendum or the comments; a quick google search should bring up much more. I&#8217;ve detailed my own teaching workload <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/teaching-load-itemized-part-1/">here</a> and <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/teaching-load-itemized-part-2/">here</a>, and my administrative workload <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/a-brief-guide-to-a-full-professors-administrative-work/">here</a>. It&#8217;s not getting any better, either: always more committees, more meetings, more reporting requirements, more micromanagement of teaching. I&#8217;ve been planning to write something similar about research workload and never got around to it, but <a href="https://medium.com/thoughts-on-creativity/bad7c34842a2">this does a good job of explaining the baseline</a>: we need as much time for it as we can get.</p>
160<p>It&#8217;s often said that public outreach and expository work should be better appreciated and rewarded, for example it should count towards tenure, promotion and merit pay increases. I agree, but I don&#8217;t think that it goes far enough. As long as our teaching and administrative duties remain unchanged &#8211; or rather creep steadily up, as they usually do &#8211; any increase in the time spent on outreach has to come at the expense of time spent on research. And research time, at least to research mathematicians like me, is a precious commodity that we cannot afford to lose. Even if outreach gets me the same merit ranking, it still means less research getting done, and research is and always has been the reason why I&#8217;m in academia in the first place. I would add that if the idea is to get the actual researchers (rather than journalists or other intermediaries) to talk to the public &#8211; a worthy goal that I support &#8211; they need to have enough time to continue their research at their normal level. Trading one for the other compromises the purpose. </p>
161<p>Which brings me back to Lehrer&#8217;s 20K. To someone in my position &#8211; tenured or tenure-track faculty at a research university &#8211; it would be teaching buyout money. For those unfamiliar with the practice, an institution can pay a certain amount of money to a researcher&#8217;s university, in return for having that researcher released from part of their teaching responsibilities. The amounts can range from 8K to 25K per course (as per anecdotal evidence), depending on the institution and the purpose of the buy-out. This covers the cost of hiring someone else to teach a course and often leaves a surplus which is kept by the university. For instance, an institute might offer a teaching buyout for a researcher to participate in a semester-long thematic program. </p>
162<p>Suppose that the Knight Foundation or the Atlantic offered me a 1-course buyout in return for writing an article (a longer piece, presumably) or giving a public lecture. <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/teaching-load-itemized-part-1/">I&#8217;ve calculated before</a> that teaching one course, here in the UBC mathematics department, is equivalent to 6-7 40-hour work weeks. With a buyout, I&#8217;d have all that time available to work on the article. I could, for instance, try to actually do what funding agencies love to ask for: track down a complete path from pure math research to the latest tech gadget and write about it for the lay audience. I could try to explain my own research to laypeople, starting with grade school level math background and going far enough that they would get some taste of my work. I could try to explain in specific detail how the research ecosystem works, how curiosity-driven pure math creates an environment where technological inventions and progress in other sciences are possible even when it does not contribute to them directly, how the activity of many researchers working independently and often in competition with each other merges into a coherent whole. </p>
163<p>There are of course many writers out there who could write an entertaining and informative article of comparable length for less than that. Many of them would do an excellent job. But if the governments, funding agencies and general public really want what they ask for so often &#8211; for actual leading researchers to be out there, engaging the public and answering questions such as those above &#8211; then that&#8217;s how I would recommend they should go about it, and that&#8217;s how much it might cost. For there are no short answers to such questions, nor can they be addressed meaningfully without significant effort, without collecting and analyzing information, without thinking deeply and at length about both the substance of the matter and communicating it to lay audiences. </p>
164<p>And why stop there? How about teaching releases similar to those for administrative work? Indeed, why not have a new type of academic positions, with less or no teaching in return for an ongoing and substantial commitment to science communication? How about splitting our time 40/40/20, not between research, teaching and service, but between research, science writing and outreach, and service? If we really want active senior researchers to speak to the masses, why not create positions that would actually have that mandate? I&#8217;ve said here before that, at least in the case of first and second year math classes, there isn&#8217;t necessarily a strong case for having active researchers teach them. There&#8217;s a lot of qualified candidates out there who could do it just as well, possibly better, and many of them are looking for jobs. (And yes, I would hope that they would be offered decent conditions, with good salary, job security and benefits. Too much to ask?)</p>
165<p>I&#8217;ve seen my share of articles on science communication and I know what gets rolled out, so I&#8217;ll address two arguments often used to support the thesis that we should just grit our teeth and do it anyway. One is that there are outstanding scientists (often mentioned by name) who are also excellent communicators at all levels, which proves that this is possible and desirable, and we should all emulate them even if it means sacrificing our free time. To this I would respond, it depends on what the goal is supposed to be. If we are happy to have only a small handful of researchers engaged in outreach, we need do nothing. No matter the obstacles, there will always be exceptional individuals who will find a way. But if we aim for a broad platform of science communication where a large percentage of active researchers are engaged on a regular basis, that requires institutional support of the kind that makes room for it in our schedule &#8211; and not at the cost of research.</p>
166<p>The other is that we should do it because more practice in communication makes us better scientists. To be clear, <a href="http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/literally-psyched/2013/04/12/why-grad-schools-should-require-students-to-blog/">there are contexts where this argument is perfectly sensible and justifiable</a>. The reality, though, is that there are many things out there that would make us better scientists (and better teachers, and better lab managers&#8230;). We do them when we can &#8211; for instance, I would include my 3-year stint on the Putnam problem-setting committee in that category &#8211; but we&#8217;ll never have time for all of them. Additionally, I&#8217;ve become wary of attempts to extract free extra work from employees (academic or otherwise) by framing it in terms of learning and apprenticeship, especially in situations where one can claim legitimately that learning need never stop because no matter how good we are already, we could always get better. I can (and do) go along with that on occasion, depending on costs and benefits. But as a permanent model, it&#8217;s neither stable not workable.</p>
167<p>So, there&#8217;s the choice. We, as a society, could decide that having senior scientists engage with the public is a thing worth money. We could set up infrastructure that would make it possible. Or else, we could continue what we&#8217;re doing now, in academia and <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407,0,7162845.story">elsewhere</a>: hiring fewer people, making them work more for less, and setting out unrealistic expectations. </p>
168<p>For 20K, a science or media foundation could get a leading scientist to work on a popular article or lecture for several weeks. That would be someone who is immersed in research, knows more science in more depth than most journalists &#8211; even those with science backgrounds &#8211; ever will, and respects the basic principles of adhering to truth and backing up the facts. </p>
169<p>Or they could just ask Lehrer. </p>
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179                <title>Cherry blossoms</title>
180                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/cherry-blossoms/</link>
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182                <pubDate>Sun, 14 Apr 2013 19:04:34 +0000</pubDate>
183                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
184                                <category><![CDATA[photography]]></category>
185
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187                <description><![CDATA[It&#8217;s been a busy spring, with several research projects under way and/or near completion. More on that and other matters soon. Meanwhile, there&#8217;s this.<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3404&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
188                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>It&#8217;s been a busy spring, with several research projects under way and/or near completion. More on that and other matters soon. Meanwhile, there&#8217;s this.</p>
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203                <title>More on commenting and the publishing reform</title>
204                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/more-on-commenting-and-the-publishing-reform/</link>
205                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/more-on-commenting-and-the-publishing-reform/#comments</comments>
206                <pubDate>Fri, 01 Mar 2013 06:45:01 +0000</pubDate>
207                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
208                                <category><![CDATA[academia]]></category>
209                <category><![CDATA[journals]]></category>
210                <category><![CDATA[mathematics: general]]></category>
211                <category><![CDATA[publishing]]></category>
212
213                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3361</guid>
214                <description><![CDATA[Ingrid Daubechies asks on Math 2.0: Suppose most mathematical research papers were freely accessible online. Suppose a well-organized platform existed where responsible users could write comments on any paper [...] Would this be, or evolve into, a useful tool for mathematical research? What features would be necessary, useful, or to-be-avoided-at-all-costs? This is not a rhetorical [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3361&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
215                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><a href="http://publishing.mathforge.org/discussion/163/math-annotate-platform/">Ingrid Daubechies asks on Math 2.0</a>:</p>
216<blockquote><p>
217<i><br />
218Suppose most mathematical research papers were freely accessible online.</p>
219<p>Suppose a well-organized platform existed where responsible users could write comments on any paper [...]</p>
220<p>Would this be, or evolve into, a useful tool for mathematical research? What features would be necessary, useful, or to-be-avoided-at-all-costs?</p>
221<p>This is not a rhetorical question: a committee of the National Research Council is looking into what could be built on top of a World Digital Math Library, to make it even more useful to the mathematical community than having all the materials available. This study is being funded by the Sloan Foundation.<br />
222</i>
223</p></blockquote>
224<p>There&#8217;s good stuff in the comments, especially <a href="http://publishing.mathforge.org/discussion/163/math-annotate-platform/?Focus=1419#Comment_1419">here</a> and <a href="http://publishing.mathforge.org/discussion/163/math-annotate-platform/?Focus=1420#Comment_1420">here</a>. I&#8217;ve said before that <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/on-commenting-conversations-and-epijournals/">having comments on papers</a> is not <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/women-in-math-and-the-overhaul-of-the-publishing-system/">my highest priority</a>, and I can think of other improvements on a comparable scale (significant, but without overhauling the whole system) that would add more value. So, in case anyone is interested and for future reference, here&#8217;s my take on a few specific issues that seem to come up again and again. In this post, I&#8217;ll stick to relatively small stuff, generally of the kind that could be set up initially by, say, NRC without much help from the community, as per the question I started with. There are of course bigger fish to fry, from the creation of new journals to rethinking funding mechanisms for science. But that&#8217;s for another time.</p>
225<p><span id="more-3361"></span></p>
226<p><b>Errata and post-publication review.</b> This comes up in every discussion of comments on papers, and for good reasons. If I could only improve one thing about the publishing system, this would be it. It&#8217;s a fact of life that published papers aren&#8217;t perfect, and it would be best for the community to have a system for fixing errors or omissions in the literature, including those found after publication. That could mean posting a corrected version of the paper, or else a separate errata pointing out which parts of the paper are incorrect (and how to fix them, if this is possible). I don&#8217;t even think that the basic principle here is controversial; it&#8217;s the implementation of it where opinions differ.</p>
227<p>In traditional publishing, this is a complicated process involving essentially a new publishing cycle and a separate publication, which moreover appears years later and is not attached in any way to the original paper. Many authors (and editors?) avoid errata unless absolutely necessary, for example in cases where the mistakes are fundamental and unfixable. Others prefer to take it into their own hands and point out the corrections on the arXiv and/or their own webpages, on the perfectly reasonable assumption that the interested reader is more likely to find them there, and that it&#8217;s better to post them right away than wait for the journal. </p>
228<p>With electronic journals, it should be easy and immediate to incorporate either errata or a corrected &#8220;post-publication&#8221; (and clearly marked as such) version of the paper, and archive it together with the published article. I don&#8217;t know how many journals do this already, but it certainly happens on the arXiv, where authors have been known to post corrected versions of papers after journal publication. I&#8217;m hoping for a similar shift in formal publishing. Acknowledging and fixing errors in published papers should not be a rare and momentous event, something only done in the most grievous of circumstances, but rather the normal thing that people do when someone points out that one of their theorems is missing an assumption.</p>
229<p>I&#8217;m not in favour of errata via unmoderated comments, and that&#8217;s just from the point of view of the end user (ignoring all issues of civility and commenting etiquette). As a reader, I&#8217;m interested in having either a correct version of the article, or else a short document explaining clearly and concisely what corrections should be made. I&#8217;d like to be able to retrieve that information quickly without having to fish it out from long and argumentative comment threads that might or might not lead to it. I don&#8217;t need clarifications of misunderstandings that I never would have thought of in the first place, or long lists of minor typos listed one per comment, or quarrels about American vs. Canadian spelling and punctuation. (It <i>would</i> happen, too. I&#8217;ve had referee reports that took the time to point out for example that a full stop should be inside quotation marks. I didn&#8217;t care much, so I moved that full stop, then had it restored back to its original place by the journal copyeditor. &#8211; Aren&#8217;t you happy that I&#8217;m telling you all about it instead of staying on topic?) I&#8217;m sure that such comment threads could be fun to read, if one has time for it. But more often than not, I don&#8217;t.</p>
230<p>I don&#8217;t know if the World Digital Math Library could do much about any of this. Errata should probably be the responsibility of the journals and the primary archivers, but there might be some sort of &#8220;best practices&#8221; guidelines on this.</p>
231<p><b>The Evil Authors.</b> At this point, someone always brings up the case of the Evil Authors who refuse to acknowledge and correct serious mistakes in their work. The only solution, if you believe them, is to point out those mistakes in public comments on the journal web page. </p>
232<p>I would argue that this is a very imperfect solution, leading to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Wikipedia#Level_of_debate.2C_edit_wars_and_harassment">Wikipedia-style edit wars</a> if both sides dig in their heels, and not necessarily leaving the reader any wiser. It&#8217;s easy to forget that &#8220;authors&#8221; and &#8220;commenters&#8221; are actually the same people in different roles. The Evil Author will have commenting privileges, too. He could maintain his version in the comments. He could claim an error in someone else&#8217;s paper where there is none, then refuse to back down and retract the comment. Actually, it doesn&#8217;t even take the Evil Author for this to happen. There are enough discussions on the internet that get out of hand, even where everybody has the best intentions.</p>
233<p>Editorial intervention is one way to resolve this. If there&#8217;s a dispute, or if the author is unable to respond (deceased, retired from mathematics), an editor gets notified, seeks additional opinions as appropriate, and publishes an errata (possibly overruling the author&#8217;s objections) or not, depending on the actual status of the paper. This is additional work for the editor, but I don&#8217;t expect that it would be anywhere as bad as moderating comment threads.</p>
234<p>(I suppose that you will not find this satisfying if you don&#8217;t trust the editors, either, or if you&#8217;re thinking of a different system where the entire peer review, not just the errata, takes place in public comments. I&#8217;m all for creation of such journals, preferably in many different formats and flavours. It&#8217;s not clear to me that <a href="http://www.scilogs.com/the_mawk_moth_profligacies/comment-on-protracted-moderation-of-a-comment-bmc-cancer-wddty-and-homeopathy/">they will not have the same problems as traditional journals</a>, but in any event, we need more choices, not fewer.)</p>
235<p>In my experience, it&#8217;s rare for authors to actually defend incorrect mathematics. It&#8217;s far more common to admit the errors but argue that they are unimportant, or to claim that the missing argument is &#8220;routine&#8221; when it&#8217;s not. Even that does not usually get as contentious as matters of priority and attribution, and yes, if the omissions or misstatements are serious, I&#8217;d treat it on par with incorrect math. </p>
236<p>The question is where to draw the line. The pro-comment argument starts with the Evil Author pushing clearly incorrect papers, then makes one huge leap to claiming that the only way to stop the Evil Author is to have free-for-all comments, then another to concluding that everyone should be able to post whatever they want on the official home page of the paper, for the sake of peer review and correcting mistakes. I disagree. Errata is one thing, but if you think that some argument should have been written up differently, or if you have an alternative one that you like better, that&#8217;s your preference, not a mistake in the paper. I&#8217;m not arguing that such contributions are not valuable: they can be, and there should be more and better ways to archive them, see below. That&#8217;s not at all the same.</p>
237<p><b>Short contributions.</b> One thing that would be immensely useful, and that the NRC (for instance) could actually implement, is an arXiv-style repository for short notes and contributions. That could include expository notes, discussion of results from other (published or not) papers, minor extensions, alternative proofs, examples, heuristic arguments, and so on. There is already a wealth of such material posted on individual webpages, and I think many of us would welcome a centralized, stable repository for it. Instead of having such notes posted as &#8220;comments&#8221; on some published paper (many notes might not have a natural &#8220;parent&#8221; paper, or might have more than one), I&#8217;d rather have an independent archive with a well designed labelling system and search function, so that I could find for instance all notes on a given topic, or citing a specific article. (Comments are fine, as long as the author has the option of turning them off. See below.)</p>
238<p><b>Comments on papers.</b> The model being proposed is, apparently, a huge database of papers with comment functionality. Let&#8217;s call it IMathDb, the Internet Math Database. </p>
239<p>Right off, it strikes me as very different from pretty much any well functioning discussion forum that I know of, mathematical or otherwise. Those are organized vertically and chronologically rather than horizontally. When someone makes a post or starts a thread, the activity is immediately visible to all users, so they can flock there and engage in conversation. The site encourages discussion and has a critical mass of users who are active posters rather than just readers. Many of the posters are &#8220;regulars&#8221; who know the lay of the land, hang out on the site just to talk with each other, and sometimes intervene to moderate the discussion. The site is also active enough so that most regulars will check it at least daily, possibly more often when a subject of interest is talked about. This is important, as it keeps the conversation alive and assures that there&#8217;s a range of opinions represented, rather than just one or two individuals talking to each other.</p>
240<p>I&#8217;m mentioning this because I&#8217;d like for there to be more discussion boards for mathematics, with different scopes, audiences, cultures. I&#8217;d be happy to see internet-based math hangouts without Math Overflow&#8217;s reputation scores, with original posts not restricted to questions, with less restrictive policies of adhering to the topic (what&#8217;s off topic to you might be a very interesting line of inquiry to me), with different moderation systems. </p>
241<p>The IMathDb, with its horizontal structure and comments attached to papers, sounds instead more like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/">IMDb</a>, or Yelp, or RateMyProfessors for that matter. The structure of the site would encourage posting &#8220;reviews&#8221; and &#8220;complaints&#8221; rather than having actual conversations about mathematics. Customer ratings on a scale from 0 to 5 stars would not look out of place, although I would hope that this is not being proposed.</p>
242<p>The first problem with this, at least for me, is that I&#8217;d rather have conversations about mathematics then read other people&#8217;s reviews of papers. Moreover, when I talk about mathematics, I&#8217;d rather not limit myself to talking about one paper at a time, but discuss a topic instead, or connections between several different papers.</p>
243<p>The second problem is that such a database could be easily misused. The reviews could be taken at face value by deans, provosts, or hiring and promotion committees, regardless of their reliability. The comments could be counted and tabulated. There are too many precedents for this. I&#8217;ve been on a prize selection committee where the evaluation process was based in part on MathSciNet reviews. I pointed out that they had never been intended for that purpose, but was overruled. There have been <a href="http://www.ams.org/notices/199905/commentary.pdf">similar problems with the Featured Reviews</a>. In 2008, <a href="http://www.mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/Report/CitationStatistics.pdf">the International Mathematical Union produced a document</a> on using citation statistics, with emphasis on (and many examples of) how not to use them. I expect that a similar (but probably longer) document will soon be needed to explain internet comments to scientists, university administrators and program directors at funding agencies.</p>
244<p>Finally, and briefly, because this is getting too long: the matter of author&#8217;s participation. I&#8217;m happy when people talk about my papers, online or otherwise. I really am. But I don&#8217;t especially want to see all those discussions, let alone respond or moderate, and conversely, I&#8217;m guessing that people might want to be able to have such conversations without me watching over their shoulder. Decentralization rules. </p>
245<p>The problem with centralized comment pages is that they present additional obligations for the authors. Most proposals for journal comment pages (that I&#8217;ve seen, anyway) assume that authors would participate in the discussions and would help moderate the comments. I&#8217;m guessing that IMathDb would be seen similarly. I&#8217;ve said already that <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/on-commenting-conversations-and-epijournals/">other ways of talking about mathematics work better for me</a>. Additionally, I have a full time job already. I&#8217;m not able to offer individual tutoring to everyone who might want to read my papers, or to moderate and participate in internet discussions on a website where I never volunteered for it, possibly on a schedule that conflicts with mine. We can&#8217;t keep accepting more commitments just because something or other might be, in theory, a good thing to do. Because in practice, it won&#8217;t get done. I&#8217;ve seen it many times. </p>
246<p>Hope that all this helps, somehow.</p>
247<p><b>Endnote:</b> There is much else that doesn&#8217;t fall under the question at hand, but warrants attention anyway. In particular, I have not mentioned <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/women-in-math-and-the-overhaul-of-the-publishing-system/">gender issues</a> at all in this post. Don&#8217;t worry, more on that is forthcoming. </p>
248<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3361/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3361/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3361&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
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253                        <media:title type="html">ilaba</media:title>
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257                <title>Gender Bias 101 For Mathematicians</title>
258                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/gender-bias-101-for-mathematicians/</link>
259                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/gender-bias-101-for-mathematicians/#comments</comments>
260                <pubDate>Sat, 09 Feb 2013 21:10:57 +0000</pubDate>
261                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
262                                <category><![CDATA[academia]]></category>
263                <category><![CDATA[feminism]]></category>
264                <category><![CDATA[women in math]]></category>
265
266                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3337</guid>
267                <description><![CDATA[The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - JFK MYTH 1: Sexism is perpetrated by a small number of men, typically close to retirement age, who are [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3337&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
268                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<blockquote><p>
269<i>The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.</i></p>
270<p>- JFK</p>
271</blockquote>
272<p><b>MYTH 1:</b> Sexism is perpetrated by a small number of men, typically close to retirement age, who are &#8220;against women.&#8221; Most academics, especially mathematicians, are open-minded people who are against discrimination.</p>
273<p><b>FACT:</b> Please read <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109">this study on gender bias in science hiring</a>:</p>
274<blockquote><p><i><br />
275In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student. Mediation analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent.<br />
276</i></p></blockquote>
277<p>See also summaries and discussion <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/09/19/scientists-your-gender-bias-is-showing/">here</a> and <a href="http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/2012/09/23/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/">here</a>, and my own posts <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/biased/">here</a> and <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/the-perils-of-changing-the-subject/">here</a>. This is not an isolated study, either. See, for example, <a href="http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/A94/90/73G00/">this study on gender and blind auditions in music.</a> I&#8217;ve seen the same exact thing in my own experience and heard about it from colleagues. <a href="http://www.facultyassociation.ubc.ca/docs/news/GenderPayEquity_UBCV%20Report%20Recommendation%20Committee2012-07.pdf">Statistical evidence from my own university</a> confirms it. </p>
278<p>The bottom line is, we are all biased. We all tend to think of women&#8217;s work as somewhat smaller, derivative, inferior. We do so unconsciously and involuntarily. We are not aware of it, nor do we notice it in others. That&#8217;s what all these studies are saying. It&#8217;s as if everyone is wearing glasses with the same tint. You&#8217;re wearing them even if you&#8217;re &#8220;open-minded&#8221; or &#8220;against discrimination&#8221;, even if you start your sentences with &#8220;I&#8217;m not against women, but&#8230;&#8221; </p>
279<p>It is not, and never has been, only about a few individuals who forgot to catch up with the times. It&#8217;s not about trolls who say horrible things about women on unmoderated blogs. It&#8217;s about you, and me, and everyone we know. It&#8217;s about the nice, polite, progressive people who just wish that their female colleague down the hall didn&#8217;t try to be more ambitious than is good for her. (She&#8217;s clearly good, but does she really think she&#8217;s equal to X and Y? And she doesn&#8217;t have the same leadership quality, either.) It&#8217;s about that paper by two female authors that&#8217;s just not quite as groundbreaking as this other paper written by two men. In other words, you need to start by examining your own bias.</p>
280<p><span id="more-3337"></span><br />
281<b>MYTH 2:</b> The best way to fight sexism is to identify the sexist men from (1). Then they will either have to change, or else we will give them a hard time and everyone else will learn a lesson.</p>
282<p><b>FACT:</b> Please see (1). It&#8217;s not just about a few bad apples who can be ostracized by the community if the community so chooses. It&#8217;s about the community itself.</p>
283<p>Just so we know what we&#8217;re talking about, here&#8217;s an actual real-life situation from my experience. Professor X is against having Y, a woman, as a plenary speaker at a conference. His explanation is that Y has very few papers listed on MathSciNet, while an alternative candidate Z, a man, has many more. On the surface, this sounds unrelated to gender. The context, however, is that Y is a rising star whose most important work to date has not yet been listed on MathSciNet because of the time lag, even though it is widely known in the field. Z, meanwhile, is in his 60s, so of course he would have more papers. Situations like this arise often in organizing conferences, I&#8217;ve seen it many times, except that Y is usually a man and everyone loves the prospect of having him speak about his exciting new work. I&#8217;ve never seen the paper-counting argument invoked when Y was a dude, nor could I imagine it happening.</p>
284<p>Do you criticize X for being sexist? Or do you just try to explain that the number of papers does not tell the whole story? What if some time later you see X engage in questionable behaviour again, but in different company? For example, the collaborators Y&#8217; (a woman) and Z&#8217; (a man) are seen together at a conference. X approaches them, then starts talking to Z&#8217; about the Y&#8217;-Z&#8217; joint paper as if it were his work alone, barely acknowledging the presence of Y&#8217;. Do you walk up to them and start lecturing X on his behaviour, never mind that you don&#8217;t actually know either Y&#8217; or Z&#8217;? Perhaps X talks mostly to Z&#8217; because they have collaborated extensively and been good friends for a long time. Is this an explanation that you should buy? Or will you let it go, but when you get introduced to Y&#8217; and Z&#8217;, you&#8217;ll make sure to talk to both of them?</p>
285<p>Do you understand what it means for a group to be biased? I do, because I&#8217;ve seen it. It means that when you call out X on his behaviour, the rest of the group sides with X, who is their valuable, respected colleague and deserves every benefit of the doubt. Who knows, X might have even chaired some committee on equity. Surely he didn&#8217;t intend to be sexist, and anyway, he actually has a point about those MathSciNet numbers. You, on the other hand, are an uncollegial troublemaker who accuses nice people like X of horrible things. You&#8217;re overreacting, and you need to learn to work with people. And next time there is a similar conference, there is a chance that others more collegial and reasonable than you will be invited to organize it. </p>
286<p>None of this means that sexist behaviour should not be pointed out or discussed. There certainly is a place for it. It&#8217;s naive, though, to expect that this alone will solve the problem.</p>
287<p><b>MYTH 3:</b> But if everyone is biased, then nothing can be done anyway, end of conversation.</p>
288<p><b>FACT:</b> You&#8217;re a mathematician, right? What do you do when you see a difficult problem? Do you give up, collect your toys and go home? Or do you start chipping at it, looking for a crack that will take you part of the way? The Riemann hypothesis is hard. There are nonetheless hundreds of papers about it, maybe thousands, proving partial results, collecting evidence, developing variants of it and examining connections to other problems. Try having the same attitude here. Use your famous problem-solving skills. You&#8217;re not going to solve the problem of sexism in the world in a single stroke, just like your two-page proof of Fermat&#8217;s Last Theorem probably won&#8217;t work, either. But you might still do some good. </p>
289<p><b>MYTH 4:</b> The main part of any conversation about sexism should be debating its existence &#8211; with the understanding that if it&#8217;s not proven beyond all doubt, reasonable or not, then it doesn&#8217;t exist.</p>
290<p><b>FACT:</b> How much proof do you want, exactly? Because nothing ever seems to be enough. It&#8217;s almost like we actually have to deduce sexism from the axioms of real numbers, and even then someone might tell us to go back to the axioms of set theory, and without the axiom of choice, either. I&#8217;ve mentioned a couple of studies already, and there are many more, but that doesn&#8217;t matter, because these are not real-life situations, or not in mathematics, or not in this country/university/department, or not on this particular website on that particular day of the week, or whatever. When we talk about our own experience, that&#8217;s isolated anecdotes at best, and anyway we probably misunderstood the situation, because nobody intended to do us harm. (Please read (1) again at this point.) When we talk about <a href="http://www.facultyassociation.ubc.ca/docs/news/GenderPayEquity_UBCV%20Report%20Recommendation%20Committee2012-07.pdf">real-life statistical evidence</a>, that&#8217;s not conclusive, either, because all differences are explained by women having babies, other priorities, etc. (Except they&#8217;re not, as the linked document explains very clearly.)</p>
291<p>I may never be able to prove conclusively, rigorously, beyond all doubt, that I would be harassed with 100% certainty if I were to show up on Math Overflow. That was never my point. I make my choices based on my own assessment of gains, losses and probabilities, not yours. That&#8217;s why I&#8217;d rather grab my camera and hit the botanical garden instead, or go to a different internet forum, or engage in any number of other activities that &#8211; in my totally subjective and statistically unproven opinion &#8211; I&#8217;m going to enjoy. Your approval (or not) of my decisions is not relevant. It&#8217;s not all about you.</p>
292<p>The conversations that I do want to have are different. Just because we can&#8217;t &#8220;prove&#8221; sexism to those who refuse to believe us doesn&#8217;t mean that we don&#8217;t have to deal with it. I&#8217;m interested in talking about how we cope and get ahead, what has worked well, what backfired. I want to hear other women&#8217;s stories, and tell my own. If we can&#8217;t talk directly and openly about our actual experiences, for example because it involves confidential committee deliberations, then there are surrogate stories from popular culture. (Me, I could spend a very long time talking about Mad Men.) If you jump in there demanding proof of sexism, you&#8217;ll be interrupting and talking off topic, and I will ask you to leave. </p>
293<p><b>MYTH 5:</b> I&#8217;m writing all this because I&#8217;m worried that men don&#8217;t like me and I need to be reassured. The response I&#8217;m hoping for is that some guy will take my hand, look into my eyes, and tell me with deep conviction that he and all the men he knows are not sexist at all, and I&#8217;m a valuable member of the community, and they like me and will always be fair to me. I will look up at him, wipe the tears from my eyes, and ask &#8220;Really?&#8221;, not quite believing my happiness. &#8220;Really,&#8221; he will nod seriously. Then all my worries will fall away, I will sign up immediately for Math Overflow, become an enthusiastic supporter of journal comment pages, and probably break into a song as well.</p>
294<p><b>FACT:</b> I really hope that you&#8217;re not thinking this, but in case you are: Dude. Did you understand anything I wrote? As a matter of fact, you are being sexist, right at this very moment. A senior mathematician is trying to explain to you her observations and understanding of gender bias, based on her decades of experience in academic positions in mathematics departments, service on university and professional society committees, editorial boards, etc. constantly evaluating people and being evaluated herself. Your response is to dismiss everything she says straight out of hand, because she surely doesn&#8217;t really mean it.</p>
295<p>Seriously. I&#8217;m not expecting you to agree with me on everything. Feminists often disagree between themselves. My own thinking has evolved and will likely continue to do so. But if I tell you what I have seen and experienced, I expect you to do better than just say, &#8220;No, it didn&#8217;t happen, because I don&#8217;t believe it did.&#8221; If your own experience is different, by all means tell me about it, but don&#8217;t assume it to carry more weight than mine. If you&#8217;re annoyed because I&#8217;m overanalyzing something that (in your opinion) doesn&#8217;t even exist, you&#8217;ll be happier reading something else instead, and you don&#8217;t need to inform me, either.</p>
296<p><b>All of the above</b> was inspired by actual comments on the internet, either here (before I closed the comments) or on other blogs and discussion pages. The list is far from exhaustive, and I might write a second instalment when I have the time.</p>
297<p><b>Update, Feb 11:</b> Paul Siegel has an excellent follow up <a href="http://samenamemath.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/gender-and-the-mathematical-community/">here.</a></p>
298<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3337/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3337/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3337&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
299                        <wfw:commentRss>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/gender-bias-101-for-mathematicians/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
300                <slash:comments>3</slash:comments>
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303                        <media:title type="html">ilaba</media:title>
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307                <title>Manicure</title>
308                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/manicure/</link>
309                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/manicure/#comments</comments>
310                <pubDate>Sat, 26 Jan 2013 20:00:09 +0000</pubDate>
311                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
312                                <category><![CDATA[photography]]></category>
313
314                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3332</guid>
315                <description><![CDATA[<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3332&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
316                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><a href="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/img_1892s.jpg"><img src="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/img_1892s.jpg?w=450" alt="IMG_1892s" width="450" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-3333" /></a></p>
317<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3332/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3332/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3332&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
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322                        <media:title type="html">ilaba</media:title>
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330                <title>On commenting, conversations, and epijournals</title>
331                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/on-commenting-conversations-and-epijournals/</link>
332                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/on-commenting-conversations-and-epijournals/#comments</comments>
333                <pubDate>Mon, 21 Jan 2013 04:10:55 +0000</pubDate>
334                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
335                                <category><![CDATA[academia]]></category>
336                <category><![CDATA[journals]]></category>
337
338                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3310</guid>
339                <description><![CDATA[Earlier this week, I closed the comments on this blog. I was reading this post, by another blogger who shut down the comments at his place, and realized that I had wanted to do the same for some time. I really encourage you to read the entire post. This is not a matter of not [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3310&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
340                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Earlier this week, I closed the comments on this blog. I was reading <a href="http://xark.typepad.com/my_weblog/2013/01/why-i-shut-down-comments.html">this post, by another blogger who shut down the comments at his place</a>, and realized that I had wanted to do the same for some time. I really encourage you to read the entire post. This is not a matter of not keeping with the times (quite the opposite &#8211; I&#8217;ll get to it shortly), or of not having the right technical fixes for specific trolling problems. It&#8217;s about what conversations we want to have, when, where, and with whom &#8211; and when we&#8217;d rather walk out and do something else that&#8217;s more valuable.</p>
341<p>In my own blogging experience, the feedback I get by email and in person has long been infinitely more valuable and insightful than most of the public comments I was getting here. There have been exceptions, and I&#8217;m grateful to those commenters, but there have also been entries where I deleted more comments than I approved. Instead of an attractive feature, it became a chore. And ultimately, this blog is not a community service that I am obliged to provide. I will not do it if I cannot enjoy it, and so changes had to be made.</p>
342<p>The more I think about it, the more I agree with Dan Conover that open commenting for everyone might be on its way out as the default mode on the internet. <span id="more-3310"></span> There are many different ways to have conversations and to manage them, to seek feedback, to engage with different communities depending on how each one works and on one&#8217;s relationship to it. There are now technical solutions and templates for doing this. It is no longer necessary to have one-size-fits-all comment sections. Instead, we can tailor our internet presence to our individual goals, expectations and constraints, compartmentalize it, focus on what works best for us. I, for one, will be taking full advantage of that.</p>
343<p>This is already being felt in the blogosphere. Some bloggers (Fallows, Sullivan) have no comment sections, instead quoting selected email from readers in follow-up posts. Others are reconsidering, or at least ramping up moderation. Not every piece of writing needs to come with a convenient box for passers-by to tell the author that she&#8217;s wrong about this or that, or better yet, that she shouldn&#8217;t be speaking in the first place. (<a href="http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/12/04/1274091/american-television-serialized-storytelling/">See here for an example of what I mean and how depressing it can be to read</a>.)</p>
344<p>The best comment sections are those with the most aggressive moderation policies &#8211; those where the bloggers make it clear that this is their site and everyone else is there at their pleasure. They delete any comments they don&#8217;t like (for whatever reason) and are quick to ban anyone who steps out of line. Moreover, they have no obligation to explain to everyone individually where the line is. Commenting is a privilege, not a right, and if you can&#8217;t find your way around their place, you&#8217;re free to go elsewhere.</p>
345<p>Needless to say, this would not work on any community website where users expect to have the right to participate based on their membership (formal or not) in some group. But this is also why I, personally, don&#8217;t usually hang out or comment on such websites. </p>
346<p>Just a day or two later, <a href="http://gowers.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/why-ive-also-joined-the-good-guys/">Tim Gowers announced the creation of &#8220;epijournals&#8221;</a> &#8211; in essence, editorial boards that would handle the refereeing and certification of arXiv papers without pretending to &#8220;publish&#8221; them. I like the idea, always have (it has been around for some time), and I&#8217;m glad that someone is actually doing it. The controversial part, for me, is whether each article must have a mandatory comment page. I am very strongly against this, and <a href="http://gowers.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/why-ive-also-joined-the-good-guys/#comment-32644">I said so on Tim&#8217;s blog</a>. (There&#8217;s follow-up discussion as well.)</p>
347<p>I&#8217;ve explained my reasons and concerns several times already, for example <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/women-in-math-and-the-overhaul-of-the-publishing-system/">in this post</a>. I&#8217;m not going to spend time repeating myself. But in addition to all that, I would suggest that creators of interactive journals should take into account the different types of interactions and conversations that we have in mathematics. </p>
348<p>As we grow professionally, we develop the kind of interactivity that works for us. Some questions are likely to be of wider interest, so we ask them in public, for example at the end of a talk. Others are better asked and answered one on one, not because either party is &#8220;afraid of criticism&#8221; or some such, but because we can learn more that way. We learn when to continue the conversation and when to take some time to think about the matter before responding. I&#8217;m not saying that there&#8217;s One Right Way To Communicate For Everyone. But there is one for me, and by now I have a reasonably good idea of what it is.</p>
349<p>Comment pages have very little place in it. They demand immediate attention and response just by the virtue of being public, where I prefer to think for a bit before answering a substantive question, or simply might not have the time to get to it right away. They reward speed over depth. They imitate the question period at the end of a talk, but what I value more is the private email I might get some time later from someone who has thought about the subject at some length. They do not discriminate between different types of audiences and require that I speak to all of them at the same time, but I like to be able to get into a technical discussion with someone who I know is an expert without being interrupted by folks I don&#8217;t know complaining that they don&#8217;t understand. </p>
350<p>Speaking of which, there seems to be an undercurrent running through parts of the debate that I find problematic: an expectation that everyone should be able to listen in on every conversation, that every discussion should be open to general public, just because someone else might be interested. Why? I find one on one conversations (whether by email or in person) to be far more efficient and productive. I work hard to make my papers clear and readable, write expository papers for various types of audiences, make every effort to answer questions from readers, revise my papers in response to them if necessary. But I have no obligation to make my private communications public, or to move my discussions with possible prospective collaborators to a comment section.  </p>
351<p>There&#8217;s <a href="http://chorasimilarity.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/to-comment-or-not-to-comment-that-is-the-question/">at least one response to my comment on Tim&#8217;s blog</a> where those of us not interested in comment pages are painted as Luddites falling behind the times and compared to filmmakers who are so worried about critical responses that they refuse to have their films circulated. Not true. I post my papers on the arXiv and on my departmental webpage like everyone else does; more recently, I started to advertise them here. But I also want to be able to choose the means of engagement that suit me. Nor do I think that every response has to be officially circulated with the published copy of my paper. A better film-related question might be: if a filmmaker could only enter her film in one competition, should she choose the one where the jurors and everyone in attendance at the screening are also given printouts of all IMDB comments on the film?</p>
352<p>I think I&#8217;d go elsewhere.</p>
353<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3310/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3310/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3310&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
354                        <wfw:commentRss>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/on-commenting-conversations-and-epijournals/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
355                <slash:comments>0</slash:comments>
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358                        <media:title type="html">ilaba</media:title>
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362                <title>Still not on MathOverflow</title>
363                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/still-not-on-mathoverflow/</link>
364                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/still-not-on-mathoverflow/#comments</comments>
365                <pubDate>Sun, 16 Dec 2012 22:19:18 +0000</pubDate>
366                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
367                                <category><![CDATA[women in math]]></category>
368
369                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3298</guid>
370                <description><![CDATA[It&#8217;s been almost 2 years now since I wrote my MathOverflow post, but it still gets plenty of clicks, a comment now and then, and other feedback by email or otherwise. The subject has in fact come up again on MO recently, here and here. I&#8217;d like to correct the chronology that the commenter fedja [&#8230;]<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3298&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
371                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>It&#8217;s been almost 2 years now since I wrote <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/why-im-not-on-mathoverflow/">my MathOverflow post</a>, but it still gets plenty of clicks, a comment now and then, and other feedback by email or otherwise. The subject has in fact come up again on MO recently, <a href="http://meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/1477/how-is-mo-useful-for-me/">here</a> and <a href="http://meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/1483/1/structural-bias-on-mathoverflow/">here</a>. </p>
372<p>I&#8217;d like to correct the chronology that the commenter fedja suggests in the first discussion above. I wrote my post in response to <a href="http://meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/985/woman-in-mathoverflow/">a discussion that was already well under way on MO</a>, after my blog got linked there. Generally, I don&#8217;t go out of my way to write long posts on why I&#8217;m not interested in something or other. I&#8217;d rather write about the many things that do interest me. Also, I posted it before the discussion on MO started attracting comments like this one:</p>
373<p><span id="more-3298"></span></p>
374<blockquote><p>
375<i><br />
376Women are not so interested in research. They are more interested in teaching. Possible to find a place with more women-mathematicians you should better look at a pedagogical forum of school/university teachers.<br />
377</i>
378</p></blockquote>
379<p>Followed up by this comment defending it, after a couple of people expressed objections:</p>
380<blockquote><p>
381<i><br />
382 It looks like [X] and [Y] regard teaching as something less important than research. For your information: teaching is as important and requires as much effort and ingenuity.<br />
383</i>
384</p></blockquote>
385<p>Which I&#8217;m finding very entertaining, considering that when I <a href="http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/the-state-of-the-profession/">implied in a post that it was the research part of the job that attracted me in the first place</a>, and that I could well imagine trading teaching for some other part-time work, I got a nasty personal attack in response. (No, you won&#8217;t see it if you click through. I have since deleted it and banned the guy in question).</p>
386<p>Never mind MathOverflow. As some of you may have noticed, I&#8217;ve been ramping up comment moderation on this blog. When I started out, I did not screen comments before they were posted. I looked forward to getting feedback and trusted that commenters would post responsibly. That only lasted a few months. Even so, for a long time I aimed to approve most comments, on the general principle that if I disagree with someone, I&#8217;d rather argue my case and try to convince them than just shut them out. I still want to leave room for that, as long as the other party is arguing in good faith.</p>
387<p>Unfortunately, I also get a lot of comments where dudes argue with something I never said in the first place, or stoop to explain what I know already, or quote advice for beginners at me when I&#8217;m actually an expert on the matter. I have often approved such comments and then explained the facts politely. The problem is, this was not the conversation I wanted to have in the first place, and I really don&#8217;t have the time to explain the same points over and over again. So, I now delete most of those comments without explanation. Sorry. It&#8217;s my space and I actually have no obligation to approve any comments whatsoever.</p>
388<p>This is not restricted to any specific topics &#8211; I get such comments on all kinds of posts, from NSERC to political speeches &#8211; but gender posts seem to be a special magnet here. Look, guys, do you really expect women to describe specific incidents on blogs, complete with names and dates? I assure you that there are actual reasons why we don&#8217;t do that, and you might be able to guess them if you think about it for a moment. In the meantime, when we talk about gender bias, don&#8217;t assume that we must be wrong because otherwise we&#8217;d have to implement an administratively mandated 50/50 gender split or something, and anyway your experience does not confirm what we say. Have you ever been a woman in science? Actually, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115274744775305134-d_SKq3_dwVeWH2_85LdpMoT_Y2w_20060811.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top">here&#8217;s someone who has.</a> </p>
389<blockquote><p>
390<i><br />
391Ben Barres had just finished giving a seminar at the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research 10 years ago, describing to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other top institutions his discoveries about nerve cells called glia. As the applause died down, a friend later told him, one scientist turned to another and remarked what a great seminar it had been, adding, &#8220;Ben Barres&#8217;s work is much better than his sister&#8217;s.&#8221;</p>
392<p>There was only one problem. Prof. Barres, then as now a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, doesn&#8217;t have a sister in science. The Barbara Barres the man remembered was Ben.</p>
393<p>Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago. The Whitehead talk was his first as a man, so the research he was presenting was done as Barbara. [...]</p>
394<p> &#8220;People who do not know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,&#8221; he says. &#8220;I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.&#8221;</p>
395<p></i>
396</p></blockquote>
397<p>If you only have enough time to click through one link here, make it this one.</p>
398<p>I suppose this could all be attributed to isolated incidents, the kind that never happens within a 300 mile radius from wherever you are. Also, it&#8217;s not like nobody has ever been impolite to a guy, after all. It&#8217;s possible that whenever I see something as a gender issue, it&#8217;s just because I keep misinterpreting everything and misunderstanding everybody. Of course, were I to show up on MathOverflow, everyone would take everything I say at face value and treat it with great respect.</p>
399<p>But here&#8217;s the new policy for this site. I&#8217;m done with trying to convince everyone else that there are gender issues in science. Instead, I&#8217;d like to have more specific and productive conversations that assume some common ground and move the subject forward instead of going around in circles or getting derailed. If you don&#8217;t believe that there&#8217;s a problem, don&#8217;t comment here. There are plenty of other sites open to that type of discussions. Over here, you can safely assume that I&#8217;ve heard your argument before, responded to it many times over, and eventually got tired of the routine. </p>
400<p>I&#8217;m also well aware that there are many allies out there, dudes who actually would like to improve the situation and do not want to be part of the problem. My suggestion to them is: when you hang out with us, try to talk less and listen more. You don&#8217;t need to tell us that you are trying to help &#8211; we likely know that already from your actions. You need to let us finish the sentence. You need to read the blog post and think about it before responding. You also need to understand that a response from you isn&#8217;t always necessary. It&#8217;s not all about you, all the time. Sometimes it&#8217;s about us.</p>
401<p>That&#8217;s all. Thank you for reading. </p>
402<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3298/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3298/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3298&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
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405       
406                <media:content url="http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/36396aedf9eb1bd125fb27661f6c8427?s=96&#38;d=monsterid" medium="image">
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410                <item>
411                <title>Shadowplay</title>
412                <link>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/shadowplay/</link>
413                <comments>http://ilaba.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/shadowplay/#comments</comments>
414                <pubDate>Sun, 02 Dec 2012 19:15:47 +0000</pubDate>
415                <dc:creator>Izabella Laba</dc:creator>
416                                <category><![CDATA[photography]]></category>
417
418                <guid isPermaLink="false">http://ilaba.wordpress.com/?p=3291</guid>
419                <description><![CDATA[And now something for a change of pace. This is a somewhat older photo, but I still like it.<img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3291&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></description>
420                                <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>And now something for a change of pace. This is a somewhat older photo, but I still like it.</p>
421<p><img src="http://ilaba.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/img_1386s.jpg?w=450" alt="IMG_1386s" width="450" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-3292" /></p>
422<br />  <a rel="nofollow" href="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/gocomments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3291/"><img alt="" border="0" src="http://feeds.wordpress.com/1.0/comments/ilaba.wordpress.com/3291/" /></a> <img alt="" border="0" src="http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=ilaba.wordpress.com&#038;blog=1955068&#038;post=3291&#038;subd=ilaba&#038;ref=&#038;feed=1" width="1" height="1" />]]></content:encoded>
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424                <slash:comments>1</slash:comments>
425       
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429
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