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Month: August 2014

Probability and arXiv ubiquity in 2014 Fields medals

Fields Medal
Fields Medal head and tail (fair coin)

Nowadays, most young mathematicians use aXiv to communicate their works. Moreover, in contrast with older generations, most of them are familiar with Probability Theory. Here is for instance a short proof of ubiquity of arXiv and of Probability in the 2014 Fields medals:

Note. Of course arXiv was already at the center of the attention in the affair of the declined Fields medal of Grigori Perelman in 2006, while Probability was more or less already present in the works of many Fields medals, including for instance Grigory Margulis (1978), Jean Bourgain (1994), Pierre-Louis Lions (1994), Timothy Gowers (1998), Andrei Okounkov (2006), Wendelin Werner (2006), Terence Tao (2006), Stanislav Smirnov (2010), and Cédric Villani (2010). Probability is naturally connected to analysis, to combinatorics, and can be useful on many structures. Even Laurent Schwartz (1915 — 2002) — one of the first Fields medals (1950) and by the way the first French Fields medal — worked on Probability at the end of his scientific life.

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Mathematical citation quotient of statistics journals

Allegory of the vanity of earthly things
Allegory of the vanity of earthly things

As suggested by Jian-Feng Yao, here is the Mathematical Citation Quotient (MCQ) for statistics journals, as we did already for probability journals in a previous post. We refer to this previous post for a presentation of the MCQ. We recall that the MCQ is computed just like the impact factor, except that

  • the citing window has a width of 5 years instead of 1 year (well adapted to mathematics);
  • the citing population is formed only by journals indexed in the MR database (not well adapted to applied statistics).

MCQ of Statistics journals



Impostures intellectuelles

Impostures intellectuelles
A fait du bruit à l’époque !

Dans leur fameux livre Impostures intellectuelles, publié en 1997, les physiciens mathématiciens Jean Bricmont et Alan Sokal dénoncent l’usage abusif des termes et concepts scientifiques en dehors du champ scientifique, par des esprits parfois fort célèbres comme le psychiatre psychanalyste Jacques Lacan. Ce livre polémique mais salutaire a mis en lumière un phénomène d’ampleur. Cependant, l’imposture intellectuelle est, sous une forme ou sous une autre, présente dans la plupart des communautés, y compris dans celle des mathématiciens. Dans la littérature probabiliste par exemple, on ne compte plus le nombre de « transitions de phase » qualifiant un simple phénomène de seuil. Emprunter un terme d’un autre domaine qu’on maîtrise mal pour tirer partie de son aura est un procédé très répandu. Ainsi, il arrive fréquemment que les mathématiciens utilisent l’aura de termes empruntés à d’autres disciplines, ou même l’aura de termes empruntés à une partie plus prestigieuse des mathématiques. D’autres préfèrent au contraire utiliser les termes les plus simples pour laisser s’exprimer naturellement la beauté et la force d’un concept. Malgré tout, la séduction intellectuelle est aussi faite d’emprunt et d’analogie, au service du sens toutefois.

Note. Jean Bricmont fait partie de ces scientifiques intellectuels, une espèce menacée mais vivace.

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Offline Wikipedia

KiwixI have tried recently Kiwix, a pretty nice application that allows to read Wikipedia offline. Kiwix is a free software, available for various systems including Android. Actually Kiwix reads ZIM files, which are special archive files designed to store wiki pages. The whole Wikipedia in English of February 2014 is stored in a unique 42 GB ZIM file (12 GB for the text only version), which can be downloaded from the kiwix website. Can we create a customary ZIM file containing a selection of Wikipedia articles? Yes, and this can be done simply by clicking on the “Create a Book” link in the Print/Export section of the left panel of a Wikipedia article. We may then add several articles to our book, and export it in various formats, including PDF, EPUB, and of course ZIM. Many books are already available in the Wikipedia Community Books Collection. There are alternatives to Kiwix, including for instance Xowa, which uses another file format similar to ZIM but which allows additionally to store Category/Portal structure.

Note. The ZIM file format uses the Lempel–Ziv–Markov chain compression algorithm (LZMA).

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