Thursday, March 26, 2009

While I wait

Mathematica's taking a particularly long time to complete this calculation I need for the talk I'll be giving in Iowa next weekend, and in the meantime I thought I'd check in (ever so briefly!) here.

This week's offered a perfect storm of academic events: the Parsons Lecture (supplied tonight by Prof. Thomas Banchoff of Brown University) collided with our Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium (tomorrow) and the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (tomorrow and Saturday), the penultimate Super Saturday class (Saturday morning), preparations for my journey to Simpson College for the Midwest Undergraduate Research Symposium, and a whole boatload of midterms, one for each class, to say nothing of the Newton v. Leibniz trial about to take place on Monday. (This semester's students have put a lot of work into this project, as far as I can tell, and they've been more diligent than any previous course section about running internet sources by me. I'm anticipating a solid trial on Monday.)

Banchoff's talk was marvelous: it was well-aimed, perfectly timed, inherently interesting, and executed with good humor, grace, and aplomb. He did a superb job at answering a broad array of audience questions, some of which were particularly difficult. I'd have to say that his public lecture was the best given by a Parsons Lecturer since I've been here.

I know a smattering of students presenting talks and posters in the university's symposium tomorrow and the nearly coincident Big South symposium that'll run the next two days (and into which I've put a good deal of, I don't mind saying, rather thankless effort), and in between those I hope to get a chance to get ready for Monday's classes this week's episode Super Saturday. There once again it's time to put together models of Euclidean, spherical, and hyperbolic space as the students experiment with bending space itself. My thanks go to my Calc I and 280 students for cutting out hundreds of posterboard polygons!

I've got a small handful of additional computations to complete before my MUMS 2009 talk is ready. I'm feeling pretty good about it. A week ago I was quietly panicky: this is my first plenary talk at a conference big enough to have plenary talks, and I want it to go well. I've made my talk a mix of "classical" results from the theory of random graphs (mostly theorems due to Erdős, Rényi, and Bollobás) and more modern results due to myself and my colleagues here. I hope that it will give a nice sense of the sorts of things one can look at in random graphs, complete with pretty pictures.

I'm tired.

Thankfully, as my plane touches down in Asheville next Sunday afternoon, the busiest part of the semester will slide behind me.

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