Blogging the JMM: Saying Goodbye

It’s over. Getting my internet fix in the hotel lobby at midnight, walking 18 miles a day through the convention center, sitting in uncomfortable chairs for hours, getting dinner in a local restaurant and realizing halfway through the meal that every single person dining there is also a mathematician, randomly bumping into an old friend or mentor or student–it ended today at around lunchtime when I made the trek back to the hotel lobby one last time.

It’s easy to get burnt out. There are always far more talks you are interested in than you could ever attend, there are more poster presenters than you could ever talk to, more workshops and demos and minicourses than you could take advantage of. Even the vendor booths, to visit with them all, would take a full day or two, at least if you do it like I do. And heaven help you if you are interviewing at the employment center as well.

But I’m returning home with a head full of new ideas and pumped up with enthusiasm for the new semester and new research ideas, with new perspective on my career and profession.

Some of this inspiration came from the two minicourses I attended. I had the pleasure of participating in Aparna Higgins’ excellent minicourse on mentoring undergraduate research. As a new professor, I find it easy for me to have naive and unrealistic ideas about what undergraduate research should be and can be. Aparna Higgins gave me some great resources that will take me quite some time to digest.

I also participated in Karl Schaffer’s minicourse on mathematics and dance in which we explored ideas related to number theory, combinatorics, and graphs and other discrete structures. I can’t wait to share what I learned with my dance professor friend. I regret that I could not attend both sessions of this minicourse. I just ran out of steam.

But there is always the 2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings. I already have a wish list for next year. I want Stephen Wolfram to come back again so I can ask him why the Mathematica kernel hasn’t made it to the iPad yet. I want a special session devoted to mathematics on the web and a special session on several complex variables, my research area. I want vendor booths unrelated to mathematics or devoted to crank mathematics to be disinvited from the exhibition hall. I want high availability of places to charge laptops and mobile devices, and ubiquitous wi-fi would be nice. I want to fill out my collection of photos with famous math people. And finally, I want to find a student to do a research project with me so I can bring them along next year to experience the Joint Mathematics Meetings.


Robert Jacobson

R&D-oriented computer scientist, mathematician, and software engineer with broad experience. I have particular interests in compilers, programming languages, and virtual machines; computer vision and machine learning; and algorithm design and mathematical programming.

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