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David Roberts
Mathematician, among other things (husband, avid reader, cyclist, Christian,...)
Mathematician, among other things (husband, avid reader, cyclist, Christian,...)

David's posts

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Here's a mathematician who is operating almost anonymously, and deals with closed forms of integrals

Her answers are incredibly concise, and not to everyone's liking. I've seen comparisons to Ramanujan's style.

(also active at the forum, but one needs an account to view her profile Edit see

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You never know when you're going to solve something. When it happens, sometimes I run around my house with my arms up in a victory lap.

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An older post, but well-considered.
I know people who say journals have outlived their usefulness. For me academics need some sort of organisation of refereeing, and dissemination; the latter could be simply availability on the arXiv plus some sort of filtering by the academic community.

At the moment filtering is in part provided by journals - the Annals for instance aims to filter by quality and relevance to the fashions of the time. Other filtering is provided through conferences, seminars, word of mouth, part of which occurs by individuals manually filtering the arXiv announcements. I am not aware of many organised efforts to filter the arXiv, though one could interperet overlay journals as doing just that.

In this sense, journals are not only useful, but essential as a means of providing an organised approach to quality assessment and filtering. Of course this does not have to be done through a publishing house, and can take place "organically" on discussion sites where users may comment (and perhaps rate) articles published for instance on the arXiv. But I still think some sort of coordination occasion this process should occur, particularly to ensure that lower profile articles are reviewed.

Such a coordination effort could be "edited" by eminent academics, thus giving the mark of quality to work so desired by university administration, government and grant funding bodies. These institutions need to feel that the process is taken seriously and occurs under some guidelines that ensure the process is fair and accurate.

This for me is the journal of the future. Something more than simply posting to the arXiv and waiting for the comments to come flooding in.

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Here is the story of the publication of a recent paper of mine:

October 2011: Research completed.
December 2011: Paper submitted to arXiv.
January 2012: Contacted by another researcher, who could improve our results. Revised the paper and added new author.
February 2012: Submitted to journal.
[9 months pass]
November 2012: Rejected by journal, received one 5-sentence referee report with no objective criticism.
January 2013: Submitted to a second journal (stronger than the first).
[9 months pass]
October 2013: Accepted by journal with minor revisions.
February 2014: Submit revised paper to journal (including source files).
April 2014: Journal acknowledges receipt and reconfirms acceptance.
[10 months pass]
February 2015: Authors enquire what's happening. Managing editor says he will investigate.
April 2015: After no further contact from journal, authors again enquire.
May 2015: Managing editor writes, "there has been a misunderstanding regarding your paper, the technical staff was under the impression that it is still under review" ! Authors wonder why this was not picked up by managing editor's investigation in February. Managing editor says to expect galley proof soon.
May 2015: Three weeks later, no galley proof. Authors write to editors-in-chief. No response.
June 2015: Authors write to managing editor again. Four days later, receive galley proofs. Two days later authors submit minor corrections to galley proofs.
August 2015: Paper published online.
[16 months pass]
December 2016: Paper published in print.

So what do I take from this?
(1) It says how important arXiv is. The results were significantly improved, and a new collaboration started because of arXiv. The arXiv paper was cited more than 20 times prior to journal publication.
(2) This history points to the insignificance of journal publication. The only people who care about prestigous journal publications are funding agencies and university bureaucrats.
(3) That the second journal sat on this paper for two years doing nothing highlights that commercial publishers are adding very little to the value of the paper. It is then extraordinary that this journal charges many thousands of dollars in subscription fees.
(4) The good news is that this paper has counted towards my "current work" for many years more than it deserves :-)

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Thanks to +Christian Lawson-Perfect​ for subjecting himself to my explanations for the generic lay-mathematician!
Way back at the end of last year I put out a call to mathematicians I know: hop on Skype and chat to me for a while about the work you’re doing at the moment. The first person to answer was David Roberts, a pure mathematician from Adelaide.  We had a…

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Bruria Kaufman (August 21, 1918 – January 7, 2010) was an Israeli theoretical physicist. She is known for contributions to Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, to statistical physics, where she used applied spinor analysis to rederive the result of Lars Onsager on the partition function of the two-dimensional Ising Model, and to the study of the Mössbauer effect, on which she collaborated with John von Neumann and Harry Lipkin.

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The Program for Women and Mathematics aims to inspire talented scholars from undergraduate through postdoctoral levels to continue their mathematics education, as well as to address issues of gender imbalance in the field. In addition to lectures and seminars focused on this year’s theme, the program includes mentoring, conversations about peer relations, an introduction to career opportunities in and out of academia, and professional development. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in local outreach activities, including a 5K community run, math presentations to Princeton high school students, as well as math activities for elementary school students in the UrbanPromise Trenton Afterschool Program.


Charles Wells 1937-2017

Mike Barr writes on the categories mailing list: Charles Wells died on Saturday, June 17.
It was sudden and unexpected.

Vale +Charles Wells​​

Plenty of free goodies at his website, including the book Toposes, Triples and Theories, joint with Barr.
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