academiamarginalia

The life and self-reflections of a professional mathematician

Month: January, 2012

The Midnight Folk Rock

Recommendation Letter

“My letter of recommendation !” cried D’Artagnan,
“my letter of recommendation ! or, by God’s blood,
I will spit you all  like so many ortolans !”

A letter of recommendation is a cornerstone of academic life. It is needed when one applies for a graduate school; it is important when one tries to find a postdoc position; a very strong recommendation letter is a must if one wants to be competitive on a job market and hopes to find a faculty position at a university. People who know say that recommendation letters are even more important than applicant’s publications and CV.

Until recently I always was the one who asks for a letter. Several days ago, one of my former students who attended my Calculus class last fall asked me for a letter of recommendation. She needs it in order to apply for a scholarship. She was not only the strongest students in my section, but also one of the best students among all sections: she scored 195 out of 200 (the highest score!) on the final exam. I will try my best to write a perfect letter for her. To write is much more pleasant than to ask.

Data Visualization

If I were in UK, I would go to London Transport Museum to see a new poster display showing historical versions of data visualization, Painting by Numbers. Very nice stuff.

By the way, speaking of transport, who in the world can tell me when the USC metro station is going to open?