Posts Categorized: stories

  • stories, web

    Grothendieck’s gallery No. 154

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    Since mid May the Montpellier part of Grothendieck’s gribouillis are online and for everyone available at the Archives Grothendieck. The story is well-known. End of June 1990, Grothendieck phoned Jean Malgoire warning him to come asap if he wanted to safeguard the better part of G’s mathematical archive, for he was making a bonfire… A… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    The subway singularity

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    The Boston subway is a complex system, spreading out from a focus at Park Street. On March 3rd, the Boylston shuttle went into service, tying together the seven principal lines, on four different levels. A day later, train 86 went missing on the Cambridge-Dorchester line. The Harvard algebraist R. Tupelo suggested the train might have… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    Where are Grothendieck’s writings? (2)

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    A couple of days ago, there was yet another article by Philippe Douroux on Grothendieck’s Lasserre writings “Inestimables mathématiques, avez-vous donc un prix?” in the French newspaper Liberation. Not that there is much news to report. I’ve posted on this before: Grothendieck’s gribouillis, Grothendieck’s gribouillis (2), and more recently Where are Grothendieck’s writings? In that… Read more »

  • books, geometry, personal, stories

    NaNoWriMo (3)

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    In 2001, Eugenia Cheng gave an interesting after-dinner talk Mathematics and Lego: the untold story. In it she compared math research to fooling around with lego. A quote: “Lego: the universal toy. Enjoyed by people of all ages all over the place. The idea is simple and brilliant. Start with some basic blocks that can… Read more »

  • books, geometry, personal, stories

    NaNoWriMo (2)

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    Two more days to go in the NaNoWriMo 2016 challenge. Alas, it was clear from the outset that I would fail, bad. I didn’t have a sound battle plan. Hell, I didn’t even have a a clue which book to write… But then, I may treat myself to a SloWriMo over the Christmas break. For… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    le lemme de la Gare du Nord

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    Theorems have the tendency to pop into existence when you least expect them: taking a bath, during your sleep, dreaming away during a dull lecture, waiting for an airplane, bicycling, whatever. One of the most famous (and useful) lemmas was dreamed up in the Parisian Gare du Nord station, during a conversation between Saunders Mac… Read more »

  • books, france, math, personal, stories

    NaNoWriMo (1)

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    Some weeks ago I did register to be a participant of NaNoWriMo 2016. It’s a belated new-year’s resolution. When PS (pseudonymous sister), always eager to fill a 10 second silence at family dinners, asked (PS) And Lieven, what are your resolutions for 2016? she didn’t really expect an answer (for decades my generic reply has… Read more »

  • stories

    Where’s Bourbaki’s tomb?

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    In according to Groth IV.22 we tried to solve one of the riddles contained in Roubaud’s announcement of Bourbaki’s death. Today, we’ll try our hands on the next one: where was Bourbaki buried? The death announcement gives this fairly opaque clue: “The burial will take place in the cemetery for Random Functions (metro stations Markov… Read more »

  • stories

    Hasse = “le P. Adique, de l’Ordre des Diophantiens”

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    The Bourbaki wedding invitation is probably the most effective branding- and marketing-campaign in the history of mathematics. It contains this, seemingly opaque, paragraph: [quote name=”Bourbaki wedding card”]The trivial isomorphism will be given to them by P. Adic, of the Diophantine Order, at the Principal Cohomology of the Universal Variety, the 3 Cartember, year VI, at… Read more »

  • stories

    according to Groth. IV.22

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    At the Bourbaki Seminar in November 1968 the participants were handed the following (premature) announcement of Bourbaki’s death. The French text can be found at the Canulars Bourbaki, and the English translation below is from Maurice Mashaal’s book Bourbaki, a secret society of mathematicians, page 115. I’ve underlined a couple of riddles in the text…. Read more »

  • stories

    Did Nöbeling discover toposes?

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    Chasing one story, one sometimes tumbles into a different one. For some time I’m trying to debunk the story that Wolfgang Krull was close to inventing the notion of schemes in the early 1930’s. I guess my first encounter with it was through The Rising Sea: Grothendieck on simplicity and generality I by Colin McLarty… Read more »

  • stories

    Where are Grothendieck’s writings?

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    You better subscribe to the French newspaper Liberation if you’re interested in the latest whereabouts of Grothendieck’s ‘gribouillis’. And even then it is hard to turn this info into a consistent tale. A futile attempt… [section_title text=”In the Bibliotheque Nationale de France?”] A year ago it all seemed pretty straightforward. Georges Maltsiniotis gave a talk… Read more »

  • france, geometry, math, stories

    Grothendieck’s gribouillis (2)

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    We left the story of Grothendieck’s Lasserre notes early 2015, uncertain whether they would ever be made public. Some things have happened since. Georges Maltsiniotis gave a talk at the Gothendieck conference in Montpellier in june 2015 having as title “Grothendieck’s manuscripts in Lasserre”, raising perhaps even more questions. Philippe Douroux, a journalist at the… Read more »

  • stories

    artisanal integers

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    Summer of 2012. Suddenly several “integer-as-a-service-providers” spring from nowhere. They deliver “artisanal integers”. Integers which (they claim) are “hand-crafted and guaranteed to be unique and hella-beautiful”. Are you still with me? Perhaps it helps to have a look at one of the three such services still operational today: Brooklyn Integers, Mission Integers (after San Francisco’s… Read more »

  • absolute, geometry, number theory, stories

    The Log Lady and the Frobenioid of $\mathbb{Z}$

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    “Sometimes ideas, like men, jump up and say ‘hello’. They introduce themselves, these ideas, with words. Are they words? These ideas speak so strangely.” “All that we see in this world is based on someone’s ideas. Some ideas are destructive, some are constructive. Some ideas can arrive in the form of a dream. I can… Read more »

  • france, math, stories

    Map of the Parisian mathematical scene 1933-39

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    . Michele Audin has written a book on the history of the Julia seminar (hat tip +Chandan Dalawat via Google+). The “Julia Seminar” was organised between 1933 and 1939, on monday afternoons, in the Darboux lecture hall of the Institut Henri Poincare. After good German tradition, the talks were followed by tea, “aimablement servi par… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    Children have always loved colimits

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    If Chad Orzel is able to teach quantum theory to his dog, surely it must be possible to explain schemes, stacks, toposes and motives to hipsters? Perhaps an idea for a series of posts? It’s early days yet. So far, I’ve only added the tag sga4hipsters (pun intended) and googled around for ‘real-life’ applications of… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    Can one explain schemes to hipsters?

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    Nature (the journal) asked David Mumford and John Tate (of Fields and Abel fame) to write an obituary for Alexander Grothendieck. Probably, it was their first experience ever to get a paper… rejected! What was their plan? How did they carry it out? What went wrong? And, can we learn from this? the plan Mumford… Read more »

  • geometry, stories, web

    Grothendieck’s gribouillis

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    A math-story well worth following in 2015. What will happen to Grothendieck’s unpublished notes, or as he preferred, his “gribouillis” (scribbles)? Here’s the little I know about this: 1. The Mormoiron scribbles During the 80ties Grothendieck lived in ‘Les Aumettes’ in Mormoiron In 1991, just before he moved to the Pyrenees he burned almost all… Read more »

  • featured, stories

    On categories, go and the book $\in$

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    A nice interview with Jacques Roubaud (the guy responsible for Bourbaki’s death announcement) in the courtyard of the ENS. He talks about go, categories, the composition of his book $\in$ and, of course, Grothendieck and Bourbaki. Clearly there are pop-math books like dedicated to $\pi$ or $e$, but I don’t know just one novel having… Read more »

  • books, stories

    Oulipo’s use of the Tohoku paper

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    Many identify the ‘Tohoku Mathematical Journal’ with just one paper published in it, affectionately called the Tohoku paper: “Sur quelques points d’algèbre homologique” by Alexander Grothendieck. In this paper, Grothendieck reshaped homological algebra for Abelian categories, extending the setting of Cartan-Eilenberg (their book and the paper both appeared in 1957). While working on the Tohoku… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    Grothendieck’s Café

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    “A story says that in a Paris café around 1955 Grothendieck asked his friends “what is a scheme?”. At the time only an undefined idea of “schéma” was current in Paris, meaning more or less whatever would improve on Weil’s foundations.” (McLarty in The Rising Sea) Finding that particular café in Paris, presumably in the… Read more »

  • geometry, stories

    the birthday of Grothendieck topologies

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    This is the story of the day the notion of ‘neighbourhood’ changed forever (at least in the geometric sense). For ages a neighbourhood of a point was understood to be an open set of the topology containing that point. But on that day, it was demonstrated that the topology of choice of algebraic geometry, the… Read more »

  • stories

    European mathematics in 1927

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    Here’s a map of the (major) mathematical centers in Europe (in 1927), made for the Rockefeller Foundation. Support by the Rockefeller foundation was important for European Mathematics between the two world wars. They supported the erection of the Mathematical Institute in Goettingen between 1926-1929 and creation of the Institut Henri Poincare in Paris at about… Read more »

  • stories

    le petit village de l’Ariège

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    For me this quest is over. All i did was following breadcrumbs left by others. Fellow-travelers arrived there before. What did they do next? The people from the esoteric site L’Astrée, write literary texts on Grothendieck, mixing strange details (such as the kiosque de la place Pinel, the village of Fougax-et-Barrineuf and even ‘Winnie’ or… Read more »