300

This is the 300th post on the blog “Cameron Counts”. The WordPress monkeys (and others) regard this as a milestone rather than a millstone, so perhaps it is worth taking a look over the whole thing. Coincidentally, it’s my birthday, which at my age is easy to take as an excuse for navel-gazing.

Wordpress provide their bloggers with a raft of statistics about visitors to the site: how many, where they come from, where they go to. So, for example, there are on average nearly 400 times as many site visits as there are posts. This doesn’t mean that 400 people read each post, since several things distort the figures:

  • Someone who comments on a post may come back to see replies to her comment.
  • Most visitors come to the front page; they can read the ten most recent posts without another mouse click.
  • There are about 50 “followers” who presumably get each post delivered and don’t need to visit the site at all. They all count in the statistics, even if they ignore the post.

Nevertheless, the figure gives some estimate of how many people read what I write. I do not know how many people read a mathematics paper I publish, on average, but it is probably not more than this.

It is also easy to find from the statistics page which are the most popular posts of all time. Of course, the front page wins by a large margin. But of individual posts, the top five (with numbers of views) are:

  • Geomagic squares (1,965)
  • Campaign for real mathematics (1,213)
  • A fair coin (1,014)
  • Lewis Carroll and algebra (1,002)
  • The symmetric group, 2 (999)

The post on geomagic squares got a lot of hits because, about the time I posted this, there were articles in The Observer and New Scientist about geomagic squares, by two of my favourite mathematical journalists, Alex Bellos and Jacob Aron. People looking for pretty patterns would not have found them in my post, but I do think that there is a theory here waiting to be developed for arbitrary group actions, and I hope to return to this some day.

Other popular posts are the series on the symmetric group, and the post on using different fonts in LaTeX documents. I hope that these continue to attract readers because they are useful. (There hasn’t been another post on the symmetric group for a while. There will be more, but I want to talk next about representations, and this will require a bit of background.)

But something else has happened as the result of this blog. When I posted about a problem of Dennis Lin on what I called “hot” and “cold” matrices, Will Orrick and Gordon Royle made contributions which took our understanding of the problem further. I also got useful information from Christian Elsholtz about the number theory behind my brief recent post on the density of numbers of the form x2+3y2.

From things like this, I learn a lot, and this helps to make the enterprise worthwhile from my point of view: it produces new mathematical insights.

So the rants keep me sane, the expositions are possibly useful to others, and the discussions of mathematical problems advance the subject. Good enough reason to continue? I think so.

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About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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7 Responses to 300

  1. Jon Awbrey says:

    Hundreds leave, a handful stay. Only one looks back.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416449/

  2. Sean Mills says:

    “They all count in the statistics, even if they ignore the post.”

    I get this blog delivered to my feed, and I read it. It’s great. Thank you for writing.

  3. Bill Fahle says:

    Since this is kind of a “meta” post, I’ll ask this question about questions. Do you mind mathematical correspondence via e-mail, assuming it’s relevant and nontrivial, or would you prefer it here (or not at all)?

    • It’s up to you; I am happy either way. Some people who describe themselves as “lurkers” prefer to communicate with me out of the public eye. Also, technical material like contributions to mathematical problems is probably better sent to me by email. In such cases I hope to get around to adding comments sooner or later.

  4. Peter says:

    Congratulations! It’s always worthwhile stopping by.

  5. I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got
    to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2
    images. Maybe you could space it out better?

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