Why write about mathematics?


(25 Oct 2016)

Over the years, I have tried again and again to mantain a math blog. In all those instances, I would ultimately plateau after a flurry of early posts, often overwhelmed by more urgent matters (teaching duties, research, job applications, fixing fatal mistake in a paper). I would eventually abandon the blog –who knows, maybe the same will happen this time.

But now I believe I understand the main reason for why these attempts failed, ultimately, I would not hit “publish” on a post until I felt it was significantly polished (which is not the same as actually polished). I mean, I already feel I am over analizing this very first post!. Thinking too much before publishing defeats the purpose of blogging: a feature, not a bug of blogging is the ability to write often, and post things without agonizing whether the thing really is perfect (and yes, to any of my coauthors reading this: I appreciate the irony of me writing these words).

What I envision in the short term is to make this blog a universal placeholder for notes on topics I am currently learning or thinking about, and the occasional rant about topics related to mathematics. The exposition will therefore be mostly technical (often confusing or downright incorrect), and it will deal almost exclusively with analysis and partial differential equations.

Another aim of the blog is to experiment and simply see what happens. How can technical discussion of mathematics be done online, in blog format? Can short posts I write here be of use to others? Can I develop a blogging habit which may turn out to be an appropriate use of my time? Can it serve as a place to speculate about approaches to problems, and to gain useful feedback? Hopefully the answer to some of these questions will turn out to be positive.

In short, this blog’s mantra will be: write a lot of crappy posts about math, and hope for the best.

About the blog’s name: The name of the blog was inspired by a well known lecture by Freeman Dyson, where he uses birds and frogs as metaphor for different styles or approaches to mathematical research. A written version can be found here.

About the blog’s layout: For now I intend to keep the website layout minimal (this website was built from scratch on github pages using jekyll, for which this is a good tutorial). The only other feature beside the post feed is the RSS feed linked above, I will add features later as needed.