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The RSI experience continued August 6, 2009

Posted by Dennis in General, Mathematical research, Uncategorized.

The previous post did a nice job in describing the process of our math research. In addition to the research, the math students form a special group, and it really is fun.

Instead of going to mentorships at labs all day, we only have an hour,  so for me, much of the time was spent at the computer lab. And there, we can see many of the math students come and go during the day. After a few days, it is obvious which students do their work very late at night and which students work in the morning.

We also have funny little things that happen that make the experience more interesting. Not_trig brought the culture of tetris playing from his school, and I learned a very slow version of his “T-spin”. Ubuntu and Pokman Cheung are popular words we like to throw around. Ubuntu came from the Linux computers and Pokman Cheung coauthored a book in quantem calculus. We also noticed how dedicated Akhil was to this blog, which can be seen from all the Algebra posts and from his daily checking of the blog stats.

There is a subgroup of the math students that researched representation theory. I am not an “Etingofling”, so I don’t really know much about what goes on in there. Except the Etingoflings use a lot of words that end with “orphism” and view Etingof as a god at math.

Outside of math, you can play frisbee, ping pong, soccer, watch movies or go to all sorts of activities in the evening. Unfortunately, I was one of those who worked in the morning, so I slept through most of those, but frisbee is fun.

I guess, even though it’s hard to put into words, it really is a fun time and those six weeks seem so short when it’s time to leave. It feels like I lived half my life at RSI, but yet that half a life only lasted for 7 days.



1. Akhil Mathew - August 8, 2009

One reason working in mathematics at RSI is different than an experimental project in, say, biology or chemistry is that you’re always able to work on it. If you’re in a lab, then you can’t really do anything after 5 pm or whenever your mentorship ends (except perhaps read papers the first couple of weeks). If you’re doing math, you can be working at 3 am! It’s much more flexible this way.

One benefit is that you can continue your project after RSI, as most of us here probably are. I think I can speak for the rest of the Etingoflings that we spent a good portion of our six weeks reading the background for our project (e.g. in my case I am still far from finished).

2. Qiaochu Yuan - August 8, 2009

Definitely. For example, the last section of my paper was a result that I didn’t get until October and it may be more interesting than the part of the paper I wrote during RSI.

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