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If Quantum Computers are not Possible Why are Classical Computers Possible? | Combinatorics and more
As most of my readers know, I regard quantum computing as unrealistic. You can read more about it in my Notices AMS paper and its extended version (see also this post) and in the discussion of Puzzle 4 from my recent puzzles paper (see also this post). The amazing progress and huge investment in quantum computing (that I presented and update  routinely in this post) will put my analysis to test in the next few years.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
gn.general topology - Pair of curves joining opposite corners of a square must intersect---proof? - MathOverflow
In his 'Ordinary Differential Equations' (sec. 1.2) V.I. Arnold says "... every pair of curves in the square joining different pairs of opposite corners must intersect".

This is obvious geometrically but I was wondering how one could go about proving this rigorously. I have thought of a proof using Brouwer's Fixed Point Theorem which I describe below. I would greatly appreciate the group's comments on whether this proof is right and if a simpler proof is possible.

...

Since the full Jordan curve theorem is quite subtle, it might be worth pointing out that theorem in question reduces to the Jordan curve theorem for polygons, which is easier.

Suppose on the contrary that the curves A,BA,B joining opposite corners do not meet. Since A,BA,B are closed sets, their minimum distance apart is some ε>0ε>0. By compactness, each of A,BA,B can be partitioned into finitely many arcs, each of which lies in a disk of diameter <ε/3<ε/3. Then, by a homotopy inside each disk we can replace A,BA,B by polygonal paths A′,B′A′,B′ that join the opposite corners of the square and are still disjoint.

Also, we can replace A′,B′A′,B′ by simple polygonal paths A″,B″A″,B″ by omitting loops. Now we can close A″A″ to a polygon, and B″B″ goes from its "inside" to "outside" without meeting it, contrary to the Jordan curve theorem for polygons.

- John Stillwell
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october 2017 by nhaliday
GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1%, uneven benefits for the middle class, report says - The Washington Post
https://archive.is/PYRx9
Trump tweets: For his voters.
Tax plan: Something else entirely.
https://archive.is/5bzQz
This is appallingly stupid if accurate

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/28/upshot/what-the-tax-bill-would-look-like-for-25000-middle-class-families.html
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/30/us/politics/tax-cuts-increases-for-your-income.html

Treasury Removes Paper at Odds With Mnuchin’s Take on Corporate-Tax Cut’s Winners: https://www.wsj.com/articles/treasury-removes-paper-at-odds-with-mnuchins-take-on-corporate-tax-cuts-winners-1506638463

Tax changes for graduate students under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: https://bcide.gitlab.io/post/gop-tax-plan/
H.R.1 – 155th Congress (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) 1 proposes changes to the US Tax Code that threatens to destroy the finances of STEM graduate students nationwide. The offending provision, 1204(a)(3), strikes section 117(d) 2 of the US Tax Code. This means that under the proposal, tuition waivers are considered taxable income.

For graduate students, this means an increase of thousands of dollars in owed federal taxes. Below I show a calculation for my own situation. The short of it is this: My federal taxes increase from ~7.5% of my income to ~31%. I will owe about \$6300 more in federal taxes under this legislation. Like many other STEM students, my choices would be limited to taking on significant debt or quitting my program entirely.

The Republican War on College: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/11/republican-college/546308/

Trump's plan to tax colleges will harm higher education — but it's still a good idea: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-tax-plan-taxing-colleges-is-a-good-idea-2017-11
- James Miller

The Republican Tax Plan Is a Disaster for Families With Children: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/11/the-republican-tax-plan-is-a-disaster-for-families-with-children/
- Kevin Drum

The gains from cutting corporate tax rates: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/11/corporate-taxes-2.html
I’ve been reading in this area on and off since the 1980s, and I really don’t think these are phony results.

Entrepreneurship and State Taxation: https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/feds/files/2018003pap.pdf
We find that new firm employment is negatively—and disproportionately—affected by corporate tax rates. We find little evidence of an effect of personal and sales taxes on entrepreneurial outcomes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/26/us/politics/johnson-amendment-churches-taxes-politics.html
nobody in the comments section seems to have even considered the comparison with universities

The GOP Tax Bills Are Infrastructure Bills Too. Here’s Why.: http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-republican-tax-bills-impact-infrastructure.html
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Correlated Equilibria in Game Theory | Azimuth
Given this, it’s not surprising that Nash equilibria can be hard to find. Last September a paper came out making this precise, in a strong way:

• Yakov Babichenko and Aviad Rubinstein, Communication complexity of approximate Nash equilibria.

The authors show there’s no guaranteed method for players to find even an approximate Nash equilibrium unless they tell each other almost everything about their preferences. This makes finding the Nash equilibrium prohibitively difficult to find when there are lots of players… in general. There are particular games where it’s not difficult, and that makes these games important: for example, if you’re trying to run a government well. (A laughable notion these days, but still one can hope.)

Klarreich’s article in Quanta gives a nice readable account of this work and also a more practical alternative to the concept of Nash equilibrium. It’s called a ‘correlated equilibrium’, and it was invented by the mathematician Robert Aumann in 1974. You can see an attempt to define it here:
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Peter Norvig, the meaning of polynomials, debugging as psychotherapy | Quomodocumque
He briefly showed a demo where, given values of a polynomial, a machine can put together a few lines of code that successfully computes the polynomial. But the code looks weird to a human eye. To compute some quadratic, it nests for-loops and adds things up in a funny way that ends up giving the right output. So has it really ”learned” the polynomial? I think in computer science, you typically feel you’ve learned a function if you can accurately predict its value on a given input. For an algebraist like me, a function determines but isn’t determined by the values it takes; to me, there’s something about that quadratic polynomial the machine has failed to grasp. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here, just a cultural difference to be aware of. Relevant: Norvig’s description of “the two cultures” at the end of this long post on natural language processing (which is interesting all the way through!)
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march 2017 by nhaliday
254A, Supplement 4: Probabilistic models and heuristics for the primes (optional) | What's new
among others, the Cramér model for the primes (basically kinda looks like primality is independently distributed w/ Pr[n is prime] = 1/log n)
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february 2017 by nhaliday
A VERY BRIEF REVIEW OF MEASURE THEORY
A brief philosophical discussion:
Measure theory, as much as any branch of mathematics, is an area where it is important to be acquainted with the basic notions and statements, but not desperately important to be acquainted with the detailed proofs, which are often rather unilluminating. One should always have in a mind a place where one could go and look if one ever did need to understand a proof: for me, that place is Rudin’s Real and Complex Analysis (Rudin’s “red book”).
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Could I be using proof by contradiction too much? - Mathematics Stack Exchange
One general reason to avoid proof by contradiction is the following. When you prove something by contradiction, all you learn is that the statement you wanted to prove is true. When you prove something directly, you learn every intermediate implication you had to prove along the way.
q-n-a  overflow  math  proofs  contradiction  oly  mathtariat  nibble
february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Geometry (Part 16) | Azimuth
While preparing this talk, I discovered a cool fact. I doubt it’s new, but I haven’t exactly seen it elsewhere. I came up with it while trying to give a precise and general statement of ‘Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection’. I won’t start by explaining that theorem, since my version looks rather different than Fisher’s, and I came up with mine precisely because I had trouble understanding his. I’ll say a bit more about this at the end.

Here’s my version:
The square of the rate at which a population learns information is the variance of its fitness.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
The Brunn-Minkowski Inequality | The n-Category Café
For instance, this happens in the plane when A is a horizontal line segment and B is a vertical line segment. There’s obviously no hope of getting an equation for Vol(A+B) in terms of Vol(A) and Vol(B). But this example suggests that we might be able to get an inequality, stating that Vol(A+B) is at least as big as some function of Vol(A) and Vol(B).

The Brunn-Minkowski inequality does this, but it’s really about linearized volume, Vol^{1/n}, rather than volume itself. If length is measured in metres then so is Vol^{1/n}.

...

Nice post, Tom. To readers whose background isn’t in certain areas of geometry and analysis, it’s not obvious that the Brunn–Minkowski inequality is more than a curiosity, the proof of the isoperimetric inequality notwithstanding. So let me add that Brunn–Minkowski is an absolutely vital tool in many parts of geometry, analysis, and probability theory, with extremely diverse applications. Gardner’s survey is a great place to start, but by no means exhaustive.

I’ll also add a couple remarks about regularity issues. You point out that Brunn–Minkowski holds “in the vast generality of measurable sets”, but it may not be initially obvious that this needs to be interpreted as “when A, B, and A+B are all Lebesgue measurable”, since A+B need not be measurable when A and B are (although you can modify the definition of A+B to work for arbitrary measurable A and B; this is discussed by Gardner).
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february 2017 by nhaliday
general topology - What should be the intuition when working with compactness? - Mathematics Stack Exchange
http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/485822/why-is-compactness-so-important

The situation with compactness is sort of like the above. It turns out that finiteness, which you think of as one concept (in the same way that you think of "Foo" as one concept above), is really two concepts: discreteness and compactness. You've never seen these concepts separated before, though. When people say that compactness is like finiteness, they mean that compactness captures part of what it means to be finite in the same way that shortness captures part of what it means to be Foo.

--

As many have said, compactness is sort of a topological generalization of finiteness. And this is true in a deep sense, because topology deals with open sets, and this means that we often "care about how something behaves on an open set", and for compact spaces this means that there are only finitely many possible behaviors.

--

Compactness does for continuous functions what finiteness does for functions in general.

If a set A is finite then every function f:A→R has a max and a min, and every function f:A→R^n is bounded. If A is compact, the every continuous function from A to R has a max and a min and every continuous function from A to R^n is bounded.

If A is finite then every sequence of members of A has a subsequence that is eventually constant, and "eventually constant" is the only kind of convergence you can talk about without talking about a topology on the set. If A is compact, then every sequence of members of A has a convergent subsequence.
q-n-a  overflow  math  topology  math.GN  concept  finiteness  atoms  intuition  oly  mathtariat  multi  discrete  gowers  motivation  synthesis  hi-order-bits  soft-question  limits  things  nibble  definition  convergence  abstraction
january 2017 by nhaliday
Dvoretzky's theorem - Wikipedia
In mathematics, Dvoretzky's theorem is an important structural theorem about normed vector spaces proved by Aryeh Dvoretzky in the early 1960s, answering a question of Alexander Grothendieck. In essence, it says that every sufficiently high-dimensional normed vector space will have low-dimensional subspaces that are approximately Euclidean. Equivalently, every high-dimensional bounded symmetric convex set has low-dimensional sections that are approximately ellipsoids.

http://mathoverflow.net/questions/143527/intuitive-explanation-of-dvoretzkys-theorem
http://mathoverflow.net/questions/46278/unexpected-applications-of-dvoretzkys-theorem
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january 2017 by nhaliday
set theory - What are interesting families of subsets of a given set? - MathOverflow
This fascinating essay by Gromov discusses the issue of "interesting" substructures in a very general way.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
cv.complex variables - Absolute value inequality for complex numbers - MathOverflow
In general, once you've proven an inequality like this in R it holds automatically in any Euclidean space (including C) by averaging over projections. ("Inequality like this" = inequality where every term is the length of some linear combination of variable vectors in the space; here the vectors are a, b, c).

I learned this trick at MOP 30+ years ago, and don't know or remember who discovered it.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
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