HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone reading this!
As the report from the WordPress monkeys makes clear, it has not been a good year for this blog, if measured in terms of visitor numbers (3000 down on last year). These have almost uniformly declined since the corresponding period in 2013. However, I now have over 200 “followers”, and I have no idea whether and how they count in the statistics.
It is the time of year for wondering whether I should now close down this blog. The golden age of blogging is over; it has become too intimate with marketing, and the shift to mobile devices has also changed the playing field. The things on my blog that seem to be of continuing value are the expository series like the one on the symmetric group (the third post in this series was reblogged by Gil Kalai last month, which gave it a new lease of life), details of how to use fonts other than the default Computer Modern Sans Serif in Beamer slides (and other aspects of mathematical typesetting), and a couple of curiosities like “mathematics and religion”, “coffee into theorems”, or “Lewis Carroll and algebra”. (Maybe also the mathematical quotes and the lecture notes.)
It pleases me to know that posts have been helpful. Probably I should spend more time writing expositions in the coming year. I have not finished with the symmetric group (I haven’t even touched on its representation theory), or computational group theory.
Just before Christmas I got a message which reminded me of the main reason why I continue. It said,
I’ve just spent the last hour catching up on your blog. It’s so interesting in so many ways. We mathematicians are so lucky that you write it.
In the coming semester I will be lecturing on Advanced Combinatorics; last year it was enumerative combinatorics, this year I am planning to cover various topics which are linked by polynomials (coding theory, graph colourings, matroids, permutation groups), and I will try to write expositions of some of these. I am trying to cut down a bit on travelling this year. I think my only current plans outside Britain are Budapest in mid-August and Australia in December. No doubt next year you will see reports on these.
And eye candy. For several years now I have produced a calendar for family and friends from photos taken while walking. This year, I went for something a bit different. Beginning in Prague at the Midsummer Combinatorics Workshop, I started playing with photos slightly more seriously than I had done before: rather than merely turning up the contrast a bit, I have tried actually painting, smudging, overlaying, and experimenting with some of the other mysteries on the Gimp menu. (A bit of serendipity has helped, too.) The cover above is a window in the Kampa Gallery in Prague; the view through one pane is untouched but the others have been replaced with other Prague images. I will start each month (hopefully) with that month’s picture on my 2015 calendar. The picture above is the cover; below is January, “Auckland day and night”, two pictures of the Skytower (the first from the Mathematics Department, the second an accident caused by a wrong camera setting in Albert Park).