The life and self-reflections of a professional mathematician

Homo Applicatus

Redwood Forest

Perhaps Northern Californians (and Oregonians!) would not agree, but for me personally, everything to the north of San Francisco is, in fact, already Oregon :) For “southerners”, California and fog are two mutually exclusive notions. Heat, drought, and earthquakes are ok, but not the fog.

On the very north of California, in the fog, there is a national park, Redwood. As it does not follow from the name, above all, the park is known for its very tall and very old sequoias. That the trees are red is a secondary thing. A few sequoias are more than 2,000 years old. This makes them the oldest living organisms on Earth. Some of the trees are more than 100 m tall. To make a long story short, if you want to know how it feels to be a hobbit, Redwood forest is waiting for you.

01. The “beginning of Oregon”

02. Hobbit in Redwoods

03. Initially I wanted to make it to the top,
but then wisely decided to stop halfway through.

04. Sunny Redwood

05. Thin and thick

06. Fern

07. I like bridges. There is something in them…

08. Another bridge

09. Liza and I

10. Hobbit’s parking

11. Redwood is a home for about 40 species of mammals and other animals. We were particularly interested in black bears and mountain lions. Unfortunately we did not see any (interesting, how many mountain saw us?). We saw only two different types of animals: the first one is elk (many elks actually), and the second one is…

12. Banana slug!

13. Interestingly, although I truly enjoyed visiting Redwoods, I have realized that I like deserts most of all. This conclusion has nothing to do with the fact that, as we have learned later, redwood sequoia dust is toxic. The toxins were strong enough to cause headaches after a few hours of easy hiking. Be careful, little hobbits!

Monday and Coffee

Today, I wrote two reviews: one review of a research paper on uncertainty quantification and one review of a textbook that I used last spring. Both are positive (what can I do if both the paper and the textbook are good?) and, therefore, useless. Thus, the today’s motto:

Around The Globe

After a long trip,
Los Angeles → Hong Kong → Singapore → Doha → Moscow → Los Angeles,
I am finally back to California.

Bird’s-eye view of LA
July 21, 2012


Feynman on Bananas

When a researcher starts to think about something new, something he does not understand, he often feels confused and stupid. Doing research is unhappy business. Everybody has his own trick how to overcome this heartbreaking feeling. Mine is to watch the following video where Richard Feynman is talking about bananas :) When I see that even Feynman feels stupid, I feel much better!

Yasnaya Polyana

Last time I was in Yasnaya Polyana, the home of Leo Tolstoy, about three years ago, on one of the greatest days of my life.

Large Pond, Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
July 08, 2012


In case you decide to live (or at least to travel) in Russia, I would recommend to settle down in stanitsa Mikhaylovskaya, Krasnodar Krai. See why:

Stanitsa Mikhaylovskay, Krasnodar Krai
June 25, 2012

A View From The Window

I was unpacking my luggage when I quickly looked in the window and suddenly, without any reason, a flow of scattered thoughts swept me off. The main stream of this flow was “this is a step back.” The thought was gone as quickly as it came, but even now I can feel its aftertaste.

A view from the window, The Elizabeth hotel, Singapore
May 19, 2012

Joe Doob on Teaching Probability

 As far as I can see, not much has changed since ancient times.

J.L. Doob (1942) “What is a Stochastic Process?
American Mathematical Monthly, 49(10), 648-653