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Suhail Shergill
Attended University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Suhail Shergill

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putting things into perspective: http://xkcd.com/1732/
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An old friend of mine told me it was my duty (and everyone else's if they are worried that we might leave) to speak out about the forthcoming EU referendum. The blog post linked to below is my attempt to do so.

In brief, my arguments are that you need supranational organizations to deal with Prisoner's-Dilemma type problems such as climate change (but that's not the only example I give), that national sovereignty is less desirable than having decisions taken at the right level, and that we should be thinking not just about the national interest but about the European interest (though I personally think it is very much in the national interest to remain in the EU).

I'm not sure how much point there was in writing the post, as I'll probably mostly be preaching to the converted, and those few Brexiteers who read what I write are unlikely to change their minds. But when my half-French children ask me, "Daddy, what did you do during the referendum campaign?" at least I'll have some sort of answer.
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Here's a nice post about the effect of SciHub and quite a lot else, including a comparison between what would happen if there was a strike by rubbish collectors (short answer -- it would be resolved very quickly because we care a lot about our rubbish being collected) and what would happen if the major commercial publishers cut off access.

Let’s say all large publishers suddenly refused anyone any access to any of their copyrighted materials at 9am tomorrow morning — what would they be replaced with?

The answer is a system which differs in almost every respect from the status quo, and one which would start seamlessly and immediately.

People would start to retrieve journal archives and torrent them. Universities would set up basic systems for access. Someone would write a Chrome util that linked your PubMed page to a torrent of the article. People with PMIDs would leave comments on each article to access them. Researchers with huge personal archives research stored in Endnote, Zotero, Papers, ReadCube, etc. would find a way to export them.

Would we lose pieces of information? Yes. But that would mean there were no copies anywhere else at all… making them, for the most part at least, less important than everything else. An awful lot of research is never read, let alone cited.

My bold prediction is in about two days, the whole thing would be strongly framed as an opportunity, and various calls for assistance in sticking back together our entire library of knowledge would travel over the whole planet.

In a fortnight, we would have quasi-formal channels of storing, disseminating, reviewing and publishing information.

In three months, they would be established, and serious steps would be taken to make sure these channels were never corporatised or exploited ever again.

In six to twelve months, legislation mandating that publicly funded research must be publicly accessible at all times would become a lot more popular. The politically-minded love piling on an issue when it’s a sure thing.

The whole thing would be a glorious mad scramble and a messy, wonderful, fraught, difficult opportunity that would be seized with single-minded aggressiveness.
Sci-Hub is a content aggregator for published academic work.It’s a portal where anyone can access the vast majority of academic publishing for free. It’s 5…
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I've just heard the terrible news that David MacKay has died of cancer aged 48. Although it was public news that he was ill, I had not heard about it: the link below is to his blog, which contains a number of incredible, moving, and humorous posts about the progress of his illness.

He was a hero of mine for more than one reason. For one thing, he was an expert on Bayesian reasoning, neural networks and other topics that I find fascinating, and wrote an excellent textbook on the subject. Better still, he made the book freely available online. (I myself bought a physical copy.) Here's the link:  http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/itila/book.html .

But the main reason I admired him was that he campaigned for better action on climate change. He wrote a wonderful book on the subject in which he urged people to discuss it quantitatively and not just qualitatively. For example, it sticks in my mind that if you leave a phone charger on overnight, that will lead to carbon emissions roughly equivalent to those caused by two seconds of a car idling. (There are two ways of taking that. I have taken to switching my car engine off when I am at traffic lights -- and of course using my car as little as possible.) He became a government adviser, and although his advice was probably treated in the way politicians usually treat scientific advice, I can't imagine anyone better than him doing that job. He also practised what he preached, doing far more than most people to reduce his own personal carbon footprint. His climate book Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air is also freely available online: http://www.withouthotair.com/  
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:D
 
What is it like to do maths?

About 99% of the time it's like this. 
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Haskell on Apache Spark!!! :D
 
At Tweag I/O, we have to work in distributed settings quite a bit. We already maintain Cloud Haskell [ http://haskell-distributed.github.io/ ], a message-passing framework to distribute Haskell computations.

Now, we're dabbling in data parallelism as well with the preview of Sparkle [ http://www.tweag.io/blog/haskell-meets-large-scale-distributed-analytics ]. Sparkle ships Haskell computation (with much of the same techniques than Cloud Haskell) too, though in a less general mechanism (with operations like zip, fold and map executed in parallel).

Sparkle is so named because it uses the middleware of a popular data parallel framework called Spark. The tour de force led by +Alp Mestanogullari is to trick Spark, which usually distributes Java bytecode files, to also distribute Haskell code around. The benefit is that Spark has a mature distribution model which is, in particular, resilient to failure and all of this is brought to the safe typing harbour of Haskell.
Haskell meets large scale distributed analytics: sparkle, a Haskell API for Apache Spark
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peer-reviewed open-access journal
 
If you're a scientist who cares about open access and are looking for somewhere to publish, then Royal Society Open Science might be worth considering. For the moment there are no author charges and articles are free to read. The journal covers mathematics as well, and I am told that there are no plans for author charges in the foreseeable future, and that in mathematics there may never be charges. I personally find this quite helpful, as these days I have trouble finding journals that I don't feel awkward about submitting to.
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Damning
The electrum bitcoin wallet seems to use SSL insecurely. Here are two bug reports I filed about it: ignores invalid ssl certs with CERT_NONE, allowing MITM · fails to verify ssl cert hostname for cached certs. One full month after I filed these, there's been no activity, so I thought I'd make ...
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from the creator of darcs
 
In the linked post, I introduce a build system that I have created, which I am now using for all my building needs. If you're sick of manually specifying dependencies for makefiles, you might be interested!
For the last year and a half I have been working on a new build system, which I call fac. For over a year now I have been using fac for essentially all my build-tool needs, and in fact have been inflicting it on students working in my research group. And I am now finally getting around to ...
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So many kinds of awesome!
http://www.pacifict.com/Story/
Pacific Tech's Graphing Calculator has a long history. I began the work in 1985 while in school. That became Milo, and later became part of FrameMaker. Over the last twenty years, many people have contributed to it. Graphing Calculator 1.0, which Apple bundled with the original PowerPC computers ...
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Eric Hanchrow's profile photoSuhail Shergill's profile photo
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interesting indeed.
btw, there's also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMyg5ohTsVY
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this makes me happy! :)
 
The new linguistics journal Glossa has now published its first few articles. This journal, you may recall, is the "flipped" version of Lingua, a linguistics journal published by Elsevier. Lingua still exists, but its editorial board resigned en masse and moved to Glossa. So is Glossa the new Lingua or is it a new journal? That depends whether you think that identity resides with the title and publisher or whether editorial continuity is more important. I know what I think. I hope some mathematics journals will be emboldened to follow the example set by the linguists.

Johan Rooryck, the managing editor of Glossa, writes this at the beginning of an editorial entitled Introducing Glossa.

The editors of Glossa are proud to present the first four publications of our journal. The publication of these articles marks a milestone. Indeed, we have been able to flip our journal from subscription to Open Access in about four months. In this way, we provide proof of concept that it is possible to quickly and seamlessly move an entire editorial team, its editorial board, its authors and its readers to a new publishing platform. This transition could not have been achieved without the unwavering support and enthusiasm of authors, readers, and reviewers via social media, the press, and personal e-mails. Many authors whose paper was under consideration at Lingua withdrew their submission there to entrust it to Glossa. No less than 10 Special Issue editors and their authors did the same. In addition to these Special Issues, Glossa currently has over 110 papers under consideration for publication.
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peer-reviewed journal format of today (as opposed to the format of yesteryears we continue to endure)
 
The new journal Discrete Analysis has just been launched.

Points to note.

1. It is an arXiv overlay journal. That means that to submit a paper you just post it to the arXiv and tell us that that is what you have done. If we accept it, we suggest revisions, you post those, and that's it. That enables us to keep our costs about two orders of magnitude lower than those of a traditional journal. Papers are free to read (obviously) and we make no charge to authors.

2. Contrary to what one might expect, the website of the journal adds considerable value to the articles, by presenting them properly. Thanks to the work of Scholastica, the platform we chose for the journal, the site looks beautiful and is laid out extremely thoughtfully (this will become clearer when we have more articles). We have also provided "Editorial introductions" for each article, which aim to place it in context and help you judge whether you might be interested in reading it. If you open one of these, it does not take you to a different page, but opens up in a box on the existing page. (In general, we have tried to minimize the amount of loading you have to do.)

I have written more about it in a blog post:

   https://gowers.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/discrete-analysis-launched/
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Education
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Computer Sciences, 2008 - 2010
  • Clemson University
    Computer Engineering, 2005 - 2008
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