The life and self-reflections of a professional mathematician

Christmas Proofreading

What do people in academia do during the break between two semesters? That is right, they hang out with their friends and families try to do as much research related activities as possible: write papers and proposals, review papers, read papers, work with their PhD students and postdocs more intensively, catch up with collaborators, brainstorm, etc. So far, this December is going pretty productive for me: I wrote two papers and formulated one problem I plan to work on in coming months.

xmasproofreadingProofreading is an essential part of writing

Hope you are having a nice end of the year too. I wish you Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas! Whatever you prefer :)


Last Lecture Music

After accomplishing a big and important task – be it a paper written in throes of creation or a course of lectures that drained all energy – I hear music. Today I gave the last two lectures: on Probability Models and Applied Linear Algebra. This is my music of the end of the Fall term: Goran Bregović – Bubamara. Sa o raomalen phuchena…!

A Half of a Shelf

I was moving some stuff from my USC office in KAP to my Caltech office in Annenberg when I realized: this is it, I need to organize my papers, i.e., the papers I have read over the past years.  Namely, I need to buy several colorful folders, label them according to different topics, and put each paper into an appropriate folder. I knew it was not going to be easy – classification of academic papers is an ambiguous process – but I did not anticipate how time consuming the process would be. I have just finished and I believe that this modest achievement deserves a photo.

Here is the result:

papersA half of a shelf, Annenber 115, Caltech, Pasadena
April 28, 2013


Elian Quesada, Santa Monica

I have no idea what this song is about, but I can listen to it infinitely.

Western States Power Grid

Below is a network representing  the topology of the Western States Power Grid of the United States. The size and color intensity reflect the “importance” of a certain node. I wish those big red dots would never shut down!

western_states_power_grid copyData compiled by D. Watts and S. Strogatz and are available online at the Mark Newman‘s webpage. Visualization is done via yEd.

L.A. team

 Senon Chavez, Will Kosch, Michael Herring, Dale Garrett, Kostia Zuev, Pevel Smirnov
LA team (Golden Gate Cup 2012)
L.A. floorball team, Golden Gate Cup, San Francisco
December 01, 2012

Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking, La Jolla, San Diego
September 08, 2012

Friday Rock

Victor Tsoi & Kino

Fort Ross

“What a magic  place California is!…
The best years of my life were spent there;
I reverently carry the memory of them in my soul.”
A. Rotchev, the last manager at Fort Ross.

In Spring 1812, about one hundred Russians and native Alaskans arrived in northern California and established a colony called Fort Ross. The main goal of the settlement was to supply the Alaskan colonies with food and hunt fur-bearing sea otters. In 1820s, however, it was recognized that the otter population was going down, and the Russian-American Company established hunting moratoriums on sea otters in the North Pacific. This was the earliest known effort at marine conservation. Among other innovations,  four ships – three brigs and a schooner – were the first ships built on the California coast. Also, the Fort Ross settlers built the California’s earliest windmills. In 1841, Alexander Rotchev, the last manager of Fort Ross, was ordered to sell the settlement. The fortress was sold to John Sutter, a Swiss pioneer of California, famous for his association with the Gold Rush

This summer, we have visited Fort Ross. I left overwhelmed with two feelings:
1) a strong respect for inventive Russian colonists, true patriots, who established the settlement and lived in peace with the  native Kashaya Pomo people and Mexicans.
2) a deep gratitude to American people for preserving Fort Ross, a unique piece of our common history.

01. The chapel, originally built in the mid-1820s,
was the first Russian Orthodox church in North America outside of Alaska.

02. The Kuskov House is the reconstructed residence of Ivan Kuskov, founder and first manager of Ross. Kuskov named settlement Ross and managed it from 1812 to 1821.

03. The arsenal located at the ground floor of the Kuskov House.

04. Inside the Kuskov House.

05. Among the later visitors to Ross was naturalist and artist Ilya Voznesenskii. He was sent by the Imperial Academy of Sciences to explore and investigate Russian America.

06. Russian icon.

07. Two-story Russian-American Company warehouse.

08. Tools room

09. A collection of jack planes

10. The Northwest and Southeast blockhouses were watchtowers for guards with cannons, who protected all sides of the fort from potential threats. Fortunately, the protective value of the fort never needed testing.
A view from the Southeast blockhouse.

11. A view on the Fort.

12. A view from the Northwest blockhouse.

13. Kitchen garden outside of Fort Ross.