Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Math in Rochester

I'll be leaving for Rochester, New York tomorrow to participate in the 19th Annual Midwest Conference on Combinatorics, Cryptography and Computing. We'll be meeting at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I'll be giving a scintillating, twenty-minute talk about the Cheeger constants of block design graphs (never mind) at 11:40 on Saturday. If I have any readers in Rochester, I'll look forward to seeing you there!

Regular blogging will resume on Monday.


At 9:44 PM, Anonymous MikeW said...

You've definitely got one reader in Rochester! Funny, though that you're going to a Midwest conference in Rochester, while last year the U of Rochester hosted the Northeast Regional Yeast meeting.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger John said...

"I'll be giving a scintillating, twenty-minute talk about the Cheeger constants"

mmmmm... I love cheeseburger condiments. Mayo, mustard, barbeque sauce...

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Layla said...

I'm in Rochester, but alas, it seems I found your blog two days too late. Funny about the Midwest thing, I must agree; hopefully there'll be another conference here in the near future (Midwest, Northeast, or other) that you might want to come back for!

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Mulligan said...


Nice Job on the blog. General comment on the so-called controversy, in the form of a story. Hope you enjoyed 'counting' in Rochester!

God Doesn’t Count

Eight years under the thumbs of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Another four years under the guidance of the Christian Brothers and the glare of wandering Jesuits. “Intelligent design” was never an issue. But then, my education under the tutelage of devout Christian intelligentsia was completed in the B.C. era; that is before Jimmy Carter admitted that he may have, “sinned in his heart.”

In the B.C. era I naively assumed that religion, science, and politics were definable distinct disciplines. Brother James seemed to think so. He taught religion in the morning and Honors Biology in the afternoon. He taught Darwin. In fact, I think he loved Darwin. For him, Darwin’s meticulous observational skills, his detailed notes, his plentiful evidence-based speculations would give numerous fields of scientific inquiry a bountiful harvest of refutations, falsifications, proofs, and elaborations for generations.

As Brother James loved Darwin, so he loved Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. One morning after a particularly interesting discussion of how the stories of Revelation, (the other John) related to the Book of Genesis, Lenny Quigley asked, “Brother, how is it that yesterday you talked about evolutionary epochs and now you are teaching as if the world were literally created in seven days?”

Brother James the patient didn’t flinch. He said, “Mr. Quigley, yesterday was Science class in which we make natural observations and develop natural explanations. This is Religion class, in which we mine the motherload of scripture stories to bring us closer to the Super-natural; the Divine.”

But Lenny the bloody, bold, resolute, would not be deterred. In the B.C. era, foreshadowing a time when Presidential candidates routinely teach religion, Sam crusaded onward, “But Brother…The Big Bang? Carbon 14 dating? Evolutionary epochs? Or seven twenty-four hour days? What do you BELIEVE?”

Brother James tried again. He took into account that Lenny played linebacker and Lenny’s father was still in love with Nixon. He spoke more slowly. “Mr. Quigley, yesterday was Biology Class. Today is Religion Class.”

Despite the slow deliberate delivery Lenny still looked grim, confused, and unsatisfied. He challenged, “But Brother, what EXACTLY do YOU…BELIEVE?”

Brother James sighed, “Mr. Quigley, I BELIEVE quite fervently that a linebacker’s jersey should not be immaculate after a game, as is yours. I BELIEVE that despite MY best efforts to educate, elucidate, and enlighten, you have a C in Religion and you are failing Biology.”

We all laughed and ooohhhh-ed…except Lenny.

Brother James continued, “And Mr. Quigley, I BELIEVE quite fervently that GOD DOESN’T COUNT!”

Brother James slammed his chalk against the green board and reached for the pack of Merit Lights he kept in his desk. Exhaling blue swirls from his Merit he said, “Darwin counts! Newton COUNTS! Even Einstein COUNTS! But…as far as I know Mr. Quigley…GOD DOESN’T COUNT!”

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At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Nice Job on the blog. General comment on the so-called controversy, in the form of a story. Hope you enjoyed 'counting' in Rochester!


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