IMAGINARY exhibition

Just discovered something super cool. The IMAGINARY platform ( grew out of an exhibition organised in 2008.
Here is some awesome mathematical eye candy

Quasicrystalline Wickerwork, by Uli Gauenshirt Source:

Quasicrystalline Wickerwork, by Uli Gauenshirt

FT: “The North needs to retain its science graduates”

According to a new report, tech startups are disproportionately concentrated in the UK’s south. Unsurprising, really. Some analysis and (a small number of) counterexamples here –  article byBy Murad Ahmed and Chris Tighe

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Why there are so few women in tech…

Why are there so few women in technical professions? Are women bad at programming? Do they keep rejecting programming jobs? Do they fail to fit into the culture of tech companies? Actually, all of these reasons aren’t true.

Here’s a nice long (and depressing) article (don’t forget to read the comments, as well as this discussion thread)…


What do women think? (some quotes from the article on valeeywag)

“They didn’t want us. Too many still don’t. -spence900


“I no longer touch code because I couldn’t deal with the constant dismissing and undermining of even my most basic work by the “brogramming” gulag I worked for. And that started even when I was in school. I was the ONLY female in my university’s mid-level programming courses and even though I worked to hard to always be in the top 95% of the curve, if a pasty white guy with thin-rimmed glasses and a tee-shirt with an “ironic” phrase doubted me, I was wrong.

I spent my life around midWestern dudes and high school jocks, but there is no misogyny like silicon valley nerd misogyny -whoa-disillusionment

And more…

“Dude, I have a Masters in CS, programming certifications, experience in mobile dev, and years of experience. I am also a woman, laid off in January. I have yet to find a job. I’m either too “senior” or “not senior enough.” Sight unseen I’m rejected many times.

I am not entry level so I can’t be one of the token hires to show that a company supports women in tech [...]

Somehow women in tech may get the mascot entry level coding jobs, maybe, but there ARE some of us with experience that hit a block as soon as we are out of entry level and remain in tech, not switching to project management or marketing.

I’m quite often the finalist in interviews, never being hired. And their teams remain all dudes. I’m told I’m too senior when I apply down the experience chain. I still do it, because I need the regular gig. The truth is, most places where I live won’t hire women beyond entry level in development groups and if you are beyond that with experience managing dev groups even, with a Master’s degree even, forget it. Perhaps someone who does some html work or marketing, but not in the tech group. I’ll hit the nail on the head perhaps sooner or later, but it’s very ironic they like to say they are begging for talent. But they have to have a certain look. And not be over 35.

I was told to get more education, experience, etc, got it and even then, my progress up the chain had at least a 5-7 year lag to any dude with less education and experience. Why did I get a Master’s in CS, because I had to to prove things. Why did I get certifications? Why do I go the extra mile outside of work? Because on the face of it, a dude is given credit for just looking like a dude in tech. Even with these things, I just may be considered on par with a dude without them most of the time.

Not all places are sexist, not all upper leadership is sexist, but the places that aren’t are so few. [...]

Fuck the whole tech business for telling Congress they cannot find talent so give them more H1-Bs. There are people like me out there and most of us are just not the ingenue anymore. I have to say, dudes are always surprised when, after forties, mid-forties, unless they are directors or VPs, they are not hot on the market anymore. It happens to dudes too, and often the most Libertarians of them are shocked when at fifty, they are laid off for just being old. It happened to a dude I know recently. That kind of thing they thought only happened to the unqualified or maybe whiny women or something [...]

I do think it’s a load of crap when you see support for getting girls in tech, when there are women in tech. It’s the same crap – as long as you are entry level and no competition for jobs, then it’s okay. That is the case everywhere from Google to Etsy to most hip companies. Seriously, Etsy brags on bringing in da womenz to code. At entry level. Where older dudes can schoolz the womenz on being developers, women far away from threatening the dudes who have real power in their tech. Meanwhile, they had and have higher level jobs in tech that they claim they cannot get women to take – they interview and no woman they like will work for Etsy, so they HAVE to fill all with men. At some point, they just gave up (they wrote this to the public) and put effort into only entry level bringing the women in. I guess bringing them in at a higher level would be quite upsetting. Or just one into tech management. MMMM, how’s about hiring just ONE woman as a tech director from the outside or something, Etsy? Meanwhile they get pats on the back for having a caste system, essentially, institutionally put in place.

Ironically, it can be the older “conservative” businesses where it is less sexist and ageist. Ironically I tell you it’s many times the men older than 45 that have given me my best jobs – those chubby old graying dudes, not the biker, 10% body fat dudes. The hipsters, they are actually more sexist as a group. So you can take that as you will. -ReadyReady

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“An Aspiring Scientist’s Frustration with Modern-Day Academia: A Resignation”

“While there was a time when I thought that I would be proud to have the letters “PhD” after my name, this is unfortunately no longer the case.”  from “An Aspiring Scientist’s Frustration with Modern-Day Academia: A Resignation”, anonymous text posted in Pascal Junod’s blog

Have I posted this story of academic frustration yet? No?? Well, here it is… Read the comments, too.


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Field(s)notes: Mathematical Box Lunch on the Devil’s Staircase

20 August 2014

Joint lunchbreak with T in the freezing August sun. We sat on the steps of the Warwick Manufacturing Group eating our packed lunches and discussing Sard’s theorem (analysis) which says that for any properly smooth function on the Real line, the set of critical values (on the graph, those are the points at which the line is flat, parallel to the x-axis) has a measure zero (or something to that effect). That means that – although the number of critical values may easily be countably infinite, and even uncountably infinite – it is essentially zero when compared to the whole of the line.  Apparently, once you have too many critical values – imagine driving along a road and stopping everywhere – then the graph of the function is no longer smooth because it becomes broken down into too many infinitesimal segments. I imagine the line becoming very wiggly on a tiny scale – something like the 1.5-dimensional lines of fractals, though I’m not sure this is correct. A better example is the Devil’s Staircase which is very much non-smooth (so nothing prevents it, in theory, to have a large number of critical values).

Figure 1 The Devil's staircase (Source:

Figure 1 The Devil’s staircase (Source:

Sard’s theorem brought us to the question whether a flat function with one insanely tall and thin spike in the middle can be called a smooth function… and apparently it can’t, and is instead called a distribution. ( ) The cool thing about the distribution (aka Dirac delta function) is that it is essentially a function over functions, that is, it’s a function-like thing into which you can feed other functions and get results; it is hugely useful in physics. The annoying detail is that, while you can add distributions together, multiply a distribution with a number or even differentiate it, you can’t multiply it by other distributions (or by itself). So δ^δ or other useful operations such as powers or exponentiation make no sense.

"Dirac function approximation" by Oleg Alexandrov - self-made with MATLAB. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Dirac function approximation” by Oleg Alexandrov – self-made with MATLAB. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

This then brought me to an attempt to grasp the meaning of Martin Hairer’s contribution which brought him (and the Warwick Maths department) one of this year’s four Fields Medals. However, I won’t be summarising it here… I am far from being able to understand the essence of his 180-page manuscript which “must have been downloaded into his brain by a more intelligent alien race” ( ) and lays out a neat theory of hitherto unknown regularity structures underpinning the previously unruly stochastic partial differential equations… In my defence, a friend who is a lecturer in computer science, said that of course he himself could’t understand the actual contribution either.

While T was drawing the naughty spiky delta nought function on the blackboard, Ian Stewart wandered past, unpacking some mail and recycling the package. I’ve learnt not to be star-struck when sitting around in the Warwick Maths department, mainly thanks to the fact that everyone is very friendly, but still, you don’t get Ian Stewarts wandering past you all the time (you do, if you work at Warwick Maths :p). In the book exchange box under the staircase in the middle of the Common Room, there is a German translation of Ian Stewart’s “Equations that changed the world”. I briefly considered nicking it and then got distracted by hugs at the blackboard (which, as I learnt yesterday from Christopher Zeeman’s essay , are actually greenglass).

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God and Unemployment

‘When I began my research interviewing unemployed and underemployed Southern Californians in 2011, I did not expect that their religious views would turn out to be so important. Previous studies of unemployed Americans have scarcely commented on their spirituality. But over and over I heard my interviewees say, as an unemployed IT worker put it, “I believe in God. So I do believe that He has a plan for me and I leave it in His hands.”’

…lovely brief anthropological description of Christian spirituality and unemployment in the contemporary USA – Unemployment and Divine Plans, by Claudia Strauss, professor of anthropology at Pitzer College, Los Angeles.


Do you know about Metamath? “It is a tiny language that can express theorems in abstract mathematics, accompanied by proofs that can be verified by a computer program. This site has a collection of web pages generated from those proofs and lets you see mathematics developed in complete detail from first principles, with absolute rigor. Hopefully it will amuse you, amaze you, and possibly enlighten you in its own special way.” Fascinating. You can even LISTEN to proofs!



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