Skip to the Main Content

Note:These pages make extensive use of the latest XHTML and CSS Standards. They ought to look great in any standards-compliant modern browser. Unfortunately, they will probably look horrible in older browsers, like Netscape 4.x and IE 4.x. Moreover, many posts use MathML, which is, currently only supported in Mozilla. My best suggestion (and you will thank me when surfing an ever-increasing number of sites on the web which have been crafted to use the new standards) is to upgrade to the latest version of your browser. If that's not possible, consider moving to the Standards-compliant and open-source Mozilla browser.

April 30, 2021

The Just Mathematics Collective

Posted by Tom Leinster

I recently learned of the Just Mathematics Collective, an “international collective of mathematicians” whose “goal is to shift the global mathematics community towards justice”.

It’s an ambitious initiative. We’ve had lots of discussions on this blog about specific places where the practice of mathematics meets real-world problems: surveillance of activist organizations, ties with violent armed groups, quandaries over funding, and so on. But JMC is looking at the big picture, encompassing all these issues and more. And the approach is nuanced: for example, rather than being crudely against the financial sector, it calls for a “reevaluation” of the relationship that we mathematicians have with it, also recognizing its potential for good.

Right now there’s a statement you can sign on the mathematical community’s ties with the NSA — the US National Security Agency, one of the world’s largest employers of mathematicians. You’ll probably find some familiar names on the list of signatories, including John Baez’s and mine.

Posted at 9:53 PM UTC | Permalink

April 20, 2021

Compositional Robotics

Posted by John Baez

A bunch of us are organizing a workshop on applications of category theory to robotics, as part of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation:

2021 Workshop on Compositional Robotics: Mathematics and Tools, online, 31 May 2021. Organized by Andrea Censi, Gioele Zardini, Jonathan Lorand, David Spivak, Brendan Fong, Nina Otter, Paolo Perrone, John Baez, Dylan Shell, Jason Kane, Alexandra Nilles, Andew Spielberg, and Emilio Frazzoli.

Submit your papers here by 21 May 2021!

Here’s the idea of the workshop….

Posted at 5:00 PM UTC | Permalink | Post a Comment

April 16, 2021

Applied Category Theory 2021 — Call for Papers

Posted by John Baez

The deadline for submitting papers is coming up soon: May 12th.

Plans to run ACT 2021 as one of the first physical conferences post-lockdown are progressing well. Consider going to Cambridge! Financial support is available for students and junior researchers.

Posted at 2:45 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (1)

April 13, 2021

Algebraic Closure

Posted by Tom Leinster

This semester I’ve been teaching an undergraduate course on Galois theory. It was all online, which meant a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun: the students were great, and I got to know them individually better than I usually would.

For a category theorist, Galois theory is a constant provocation: very little is canonical or functorial, or at least, not in the obvious sense (for reasons closely related to the nontriviality of the Galois group). One important not-obviously-functorial construction is algebraic closure. We didn’t get to it in the course, but I spent a while absorbed in an expository note on it by Keith Conrad.

Proving that every field has an algebraic closure is not entirely trivial, but the proof in Conrad’s note seems easier and more obvious than the argument you’ll find in many algebra books. As he says, it’s a variant on a proof by Zorn, which he attributes to “B. Conrad” (presumably his brother Brian). It should be more widely known, and now I find myself asking: why would you prove it any other way?

What follows is a somewhat categorical take on the Conrad–Zorn proof.

Posted at 12:13 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (20)