This weekend I got a chance to play around with ScribTex which is a tool for collaborating on LaTeX. In my short test drive, I will say it’s one of the better solutions to this problem that I’ve seen.
(Of course the one thing that is a pain with all of these systems is the lack of good editors. There is a certain handicap that you get by working in a browser input box and not into a full fledged editor (a similar setup to scibtex that I use in MediaWiki has this same problem.) I’m not sure how solvable this problem is. Has anyone seen, for example, a javascript solution which allows automatic syntax highlighting, for example?)

Zotero 1.5 Beta and More

Zotero, a Firefox extension for managing research sources, has announced the release of Zotero 1.5 beta. I’ve heard good things from those who use Zotero. This major update adds some nifty synchronizing and automatic backup. The next step after this for Zotero, I believe, is adding sharing capabilities.
By the way does anyone know what happened to arXiv on you harddrive? It’s not been updated in over a year, which is a shame. Personally I find the arXiv’s lack of publicity accessible methods for obtaining the full text kind of a bummer. There is so much fun you could have given the ability to have the arXiv on your own local system. Sure there are bandwidth issues, but I’ve been hanging around long enough with computer scientists to know that there are serious good solutions to these problems as well.

More on Fixed Points

In a prior post I asked about the how the structure of fixed points of stochastic maps changes under composition of such maps. Robin provided an interesting comment about the setup, linking this question at least partially with zero error codes:

R has at least one fixed point. If it’s unique, there need be no relationship between fixed points of P and R. (Q can project to a single vector, which becomes the unique fixed point of R.) If R has N > 1 fixed points, then things get more interesting. The fixed points are closed under linear combination, so they’re a subspace (I’m actually assuming N is the dimension of the subspace). An N-dimensional fixed subspace gives an N-symbol noiseless code for N (not necessarily obvious, but see arxiv/0705.4282), and therefore an N-symbol correctable code for P. Q is the recovery map. So, the dimensionality of R‘s fixed-point space (N) is tightly bounded by the size of P‘s largest zero-error code, and the fixed-point set itself has to be a subspace of one of those codes. You can also transpose R and get an identical bound in terms of QT‘s zero-error codes. (Yes, I know QT isn’t necessarily stochastic, but it works anyway). The zero-error codes are independent sets of P‘s adjacency graph, so (a) there can be quite a few of them, and (b) finding the bound on N is isomorphic to Maximum Clique.

Robin scores double bonus old school points for linking to a paper by Shannon. Okay, so given that the general case seems hard (and my question was vague), maybe it’s better to work with a simpler concrete example of what I’m thinking.

Continue reading “More on Fixed Points”

Brains, Brains, Brains, Brains

Like many an arrogant kid before me, when I graduate from high school in my podunk hometown (no, it wasn’t marshy, and I say podunk with all the warm feelings of a idyllic childhood), I was filled with confidence that I was one of the smartest people I knew. Oh, I’d never say it, and yes I knew I was good mostly at only one small thing, mathematics, but I’m pretty certain looking back that I was a pretty confident ass. As you can well imagine, then, transitioning from my high school to Caltech, an institution filled with near-perfect-SAT-scoring students, Nobel laureate faculty members, and a wide range of just frickin’ brilliant people, resulted in a large dislocation in my perspective concerning my own capabilities. But over time, I began to realize that, while I wasn’t the sharpest cookie in the cookie jar, every once in a very rare while I could do something worthy of interest to my fellow genii in grooming (mostly jokes, mad rantings, or random acts of bizarreness, if you must know.) Thus I came to the perspective that there was no such thing as a universal genius, that possibly, just possibly, there are people who are good at differing things—little genii of their own domains. It’s often disheartening to sit in a room with a large number of brilliant people, until I remind myself of this fact. And Monday, while doing exactly this form of sitting, I began to ponder the different ways in which these people have their own styles of brilliance. Or, in short, I made a list.

Continue reading “Brains, Brains, Brains, Brains”

Zotero Sued

Zotero is a Firefox browser plugin for keeping track of citations and is very useful in an academic environment. I’ve played with it from time to time and with each progressive version it is getting better and better. Apparently now its even good enought that, Thomson Reuters, makers of Endnote software, a commercial competitor of Zotero, has sued the Commonwealth of Virginia (George Mason University is where the core team developing Zotero is based) over Zotero being able to read Endnote files into the Zotero system. Yeah, if I were Endnote I’d be scared pantless that a startup which actually promotes and open standard is about to take away your market. And peoples, aren’t you happy that all of the value you’ve created in your citation databases in Endnote is effectively forever trapped inside that program. Makes you almost want to not use the Endnote software, doesn’t it. ENDnote?

Watching BioBarCamp From Afar

Over at Science in the open, the the ScienceOpener (Cameron Neylon) is attending BioBarCamp. Now, IANAB (that stands for “I am not a stamp collector” 🙂 ) but there are a ton of cool talks at BioBarCamp: many on open science / social media / science 2.0 etc (for which biologists are kicking everyone’s rear at.) Here is the schedule on google docs. Because I’m supposed to be working on a talk for an upcoming review, I need something to listen to and watch out of the corner of my eye, as I work on the review. And ScienceOpener provides: A lifefeed of the event.
Which is cool, because now I can hear awesome interesting ideas, while trying to work on my presentation (with less awesome ideas, BTW.) And I even get to see familiar faces (well…familiar people lounging while listening):
How cool is that. Science, it is a changing, my little pea sized mind thinks 🙂

Quantum Computing Room on Friendfeed

For those of you who aren’t afraid of “uberconnected web 2.0”-ing, I’ve set up a quantum computing room on friendfeed. “For those with nothing better to do than contemplate the one true theory of computation.”