Various mathematics-related news:

- The Perimeter Institute has been moving towards an increased engagement with mathematics and mathematicians in recent years. Matilde Marcolli and Ben Webster are now joining them as Associate Faculty.
- Quanta magazine has an excellent article by Kevin Hartnett on the state of efforts by mathematicians to understand mirror symmetry.
- My colleague Dorian Goldfeld has become editor of the Journal of Number Theory, succeeding David Goss, who passed away last year. He tells me that the journal will sponsor a biennial conference, first one next year, announcement here. There will also every two years be a David Goss prize awarded to a young researcher in number theory.
- The latest Notices has an interesting and extensive article about Claire Voisin.
- John Baez has an ongoing online course on Applied Category Theory.
- Mathematician/musician Tom Lehrer is 90 this month, and there’s a story about him at Nature. For an example of his music, listen to Lobachevsky.
- I’d missed the news that Roger Howe now has a tenure-track position at Texas A & M. Good luck to him on getting tenure! Howe duality is very much worth knowing about, here’s an expository treatment.

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Update**: This Friday and Saturday there will be a meeting in Cambridge on the topic of Ethics in Mathematics. Supposedly talks will be livestreamed on Youtube (perhaps here?).

It’s interesting to see how Marcolli’s career has evolved over the years: I didn’t know that she’s taken an interest in computational linguistics since 2014. Her essay, “A drifter of Dadaist persuasion”, available from her Caltech website and to appear (as indicated there) in an AMS publication, is a fascinating read.

and he’s just gotten a tenure-

trackjob? What hope do the rest of us have?? ðŸ™‚David, I got the impression that Peter was being ironic. I cannot think of a reason why somebody past 70 would want to get tenured, except perhaps ego. Surely universities can fire tenured professors once they reach mandatory retirement age (67?) if they want to.

Thomas Larsson,

I was being ironic, and I think David Roberts was too. Either the article was misusing terminology, or it might even have been technically correct (some institutions have a policy that even a senior hire doesn’t officially get tenure until after their first year, or something like that).

In the US, there is no mandatory retirement age and tenured faculty can stay on as long as they want, which can sometimes create problems.

I feel the need to point out that, irrespective of any mathematical credentials, Tom Lehrer is, in my humble and miserable opinion, the author of the funniest songs ever written. His music does not seem to date, either. Anyone who has not yet discovered him has a treat in store.

Peter, about Mathilde Marcolli, what is she talking about with respect to cruelty and exclusion in the mathematical community? Is she being a bit paranoid, or are people rejecting her work for bad reasons? It’s puzzling to me because from where I sit, as a non-scientist, she seems to have had a lot of success. I read her essay with great interest.

The essay being referred to is here

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~matilde/MarcolliArtMath.pdf

Michael Gogins,

I’ve never met Marcolli, know only a little about her work, which is interesting, but highly idiosyncratic. You’d have to ask her for specifics, but you probably should take into account the context of what you quote (on page 4) which refers to the Surrealist critique of “the violence intrinsic in traditional family and bourgeois society.” I suspect her criticisms apply to a lot more than just the math research community.

For some insight into one of her main reasons for going to Perimeter, note that she has a blog:

http://listeningtogolem.blogspot.com/

Peter, by coincide, I am only now reading the very excellent essay by Roger Howe, “On the Role of the Heisenberg Group in Harmonic Analysis,” which I’m sure you are familiar with.

Thank you for the link to Marcolli’s blog. I read the two most recent posts. She is certainly alarmed, and alarming, and the blog does give insight into her paranoid-sounding remarks.

There seems to be a common thread here with Grothendieck’s political attitudes…

As for myself, I am certainly very alarmed, but I don’t think as much so as Marcolli.

Prof. Marcoli gave a lecture on creativity and mood disorder that may be valuable to many in the research math community:

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~matilde/DarkBrightness.pdf

I read Marcolli’s essay. I found it interesting, but also quite frustrating. There is a very great deal of talk about the violence and cruelty of the mathematical community and of (most, it seems) mathematicians, but a great lack of detail as to what form this cruelty might take; which certainly would be of enormous interest to those of us who might wish to try to do anything about it. It is quite upsetting that Marcolli has had such painful experiences; but as there is very little content about the form of any of those experiences, there is little I can say except that — it is quite upsetting that she has had such painful experiences.

The exception would be where she discusses the putting away of books, which is quite a specific complaint, and one that I vigorously agree with.

Michael Gogins,

Marcolli has something in common with Grothendieck’s parents, who surely had a profound influence on his worldview.

S,

For what it’s worth, the essay corroborates some of the rumblings of disaffection, which I’ve heard a while ago, that were coming from the field in which she was active.