A formative day for Georg Cantor

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

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An obsession with targets and impacts is killing off the blue-sky thinking that helped Higgs to a Nobel prize

From the Guardian. "Higgs would not find his boson in today's 'publish or perish' research culture".

Also from the Guardian. "Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system".

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The Truth About Numbers

From Tom the Dancing Bug. "That book is full of secular lies! Here's the only 'math' book you'll ever need!"

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Will Snowden be Glasgow University's next Rector?

From the Glasgow Herald. Spotted by Mitch Wand.
Chris Cassells, a member of the "Elect Snowden as Rector" campaign at Glasgow University, said a Snowden victory would be a gesture against surveillance culture
"Having Edward Snowden as rector would give us a megaphone with which we can project our views to a global audience particularly on the issue of state surveillance and the very valid and welcome role of whistleblowers in a democracy," explained the PhD student, 27.
"I think he has done a great service to citizens across the world in exposing the corrupt and immoral practises of the NSA and our very own GCHQ.
"Studying at the university is dependent on the free exchange of information and freedom of speech, and I think Snowden's revelations hit to the heart of that."

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Separate Scotlandshire may be susceptible to space storms, say scientists

As reported by Och Aye The News.
In a report published today the wholly independent UK Government boffins claim that, if Scotlandshire were to separate from England, it would be left with no cover against celestial peril. The tiny Scottish Defence Force would be unable to prevent a hail of meteors - which could fall from the sky at any time – from causing huge devastation and loss of life.

Dr Alisdair Allan MSP, the Scottish Government's Science & Education minister said, “While the conclusions of the LSE report are undoubtedly accurate, its authors fail to mention that there are no current means of shielding Scotlandshire from meteor showers.

“The kind of technology required to provide protection from celestial objects doesn't even exist. So, to claim that the danger would be increased by independence doesn't make any sense.

"You may wish to ask the UK government what steps they are taking to protect us from being lovebombed by comets, for pity's sake.”

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Off the Beaten Track 3: Proofs as Stories

A third talk of note at Off the Beaten Track was Languages for Computational Creativity: Generative Art and Interactive Worlds, by Chris Martens. Her talk included the most inventive application of Propositions of Types that I ever heard: Proofs as Stories. Later, she provided a citation to a longer work, Linear Logic for Non-Linear Storytelling, by some of her collaborators, which uses proofs in linear logic to describe alternative storylines for Madame Bovary. Thanks, Chris!

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Off the Beaten Track 2: Take FRP to the limit

A second talk I enjoyed at Off the Beaten Track was Kengo Kido's Integrability in Nonstandard Modeling of Hybrid Systems, because it might hold the secret to resolving a conflict that has bugged me for many years.

Elliott and Hudak's original description of Functional Reactive Animation carefully separated behaviours (continuous maps from time to values) from events (a value is supplied at a given time). However, many developments of Functional Reactive Programming (FRP) instead supply a stream of discrete values, casting out continuity and conflating the notions of behaviour and event. For instance, the discrete approach is taken by Causal Commutative Arrows and by Asynchronous Functional Reactive Programming for GUIs (the basis for Elm).

As I commented in a previous post, streams have the advantage of permitting feedback loops, which permit the definition of important functions such as integral, and relate to the categorical notion of trace: can we combine the advantages of feedback with continuity? Kido's paper suggests a way forward: use discrete streams, but let the time interval between them to approach zero in the limit, as in his language WHILEdt. It would be great to see someone work out the details.

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Union in Peril?

It's easy to despair if you favour independence for Scotland. Despite a small slant toward Yes, polls still show No well in the lead. So I found heartening a call to arms by Alan Massie in the Spectator, warning unionists that a vote for Independence is far from far fetched.

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