Being a graduate student is more time consuming than most people realize. Between learning very difficult material and attending classes, teaching your own classes, grading, going to seminars and giving talks, negotiating the graduate employee contract, studying for qualifying exams, publishing research papers, travelling to conferences, and regularly finding that quiet four hours needed to really make progress in thinking about a problem, it can be a challenge to find time to do things like blog.
And of course, there’s always the issue of salary. Currently the University of Illinois at Chicago estimates the cost of living in Chicago and attending UIC is around $17,000 per year. Ironically (and we’ve brought this up in our contract negotiations many times), the standard wage for graduate students here is only about $15,000. The math department here scraps together enough to bump our salaries up a bit more (mostly to account for extra fees we pay), but I find myself continually taking on extra jobs on the side to supplement my income. Most prominently this takes the form of competitive summer research internships, but these are by no means guaranteed. During the school year I find additional web design work, e.g., for local high school math organizations, to supplement my income.
But all of this time spent looking for additional sources of income, and doing the jobs themselves, seriously limits my blogging time! Since my blog has grown over the past two years to gain a modest readership, I would absolutely love to devote more of my time to writing and producing increasingly high-quality content. Nothing makes me happier than spreading knowledge, doing math, and writing awesome programs. The support and feedback from my readers has shown that my blog has become a valuable international resource.
[And I'm so pleased that my readers are so diverse! I'd like to shout out to my South African readers (yes, I've noticed you; you're making quite a large dent in my statistics). I just got my first hit from Tajikistan recently. Sadly nothing from Iran or North Korea yet, but I can dream.]
Here are some examples of topics I’ve planned to write about for a while:
- Primers on the basic data structures; structured trees (BSTs, quadtrees, prefix trees), hash tables, priority queues, etc.
- More on Fourier transforms, specifically extending to higher dimensions and doing image processing algorithms as common in Gimp and Photoshop. Continue with wavelet transforms and other more modern advances in signal processing.
- A whole host of cutting-edge machine learning topics: support vector machines (implemented from scratch), boosting, multi-armed bandit problems, bayesian classification, deep learning and sparse autoencoders.
- Randomized and streaming algorithms. Graph property testing.
- Computational category theory.
- Social network analysis.
- Computational geometry and applications.
- More programming primers, specifically ML, Haskell, Java, C.
- Guest posts from my colleagues in topics like: elliptic curve cryptography/factorization, financial mathematics, and baking
- Video tutorials of mathematics in action! Sometimes hearing a voice explain a topic is much easier than reading it.
If any of these topics sound great, and you want to see them come sooner, or you just want to support this blog, then you can make that happen by either buying some of the cool merchandise I designed, or by donating directly via PayPal.
Additional reasons to support:
- I blog out of the goodness of his heart and his excitement for mathematics and programming.
- All revenue directly supports the blog.
- High quality content on technical subjects: each blog post ranges from 2,000 – 6,000 words in length, with loads of hand-crafted diagrams and source code explanations.
- All source code files and data sets are released for free on his Google Code page, so you have the entire working examples at your fingertips.
Shirts and Mugs!
Okay, so I’ll admit I am no graphic designer (if any readers who are graphic designers want to submit awesome designs, I’d love to see them). But I have to admit, sitting down on a quiet Sunday morning to write some proofs or crunch out some programs is much more enjoyable with my Math ∩ Programming mug.
The mug has this blog’s lambda keyboard key logo (a larger version of the favicon) on the other side, which you can see by going to the product page. This one is actually a draft I got to make sure the colors turned out right (they didn’t and I had to modify them). I wasn’t satisfied with the text layout either (my colleagues kept thinking it meant ).
I’ve also designed a number of t-shirts, with various designs such as this one:
It’s supposed to look like a bunch of keyboard keys, with rows representing concepts and columns from left to right representing the progression of a concept from theory to practice. I had a list of about twelve ideas for “rows,” but for many of them I couldn’t figure out a sensible entry for one of the columns :-/
So far this is the only t-shirt I’ve put up for sale, as I’m not quite satisfied with the others yet. Designs are in the works for additional t-shirts and sweatshirts, and things like drawstring bags. Any suggestions from fans of this blog would be extremely welcome.
If you don’t like any of these designs, but you still want to support Math ∩ Programming, I’ve set up a PayPal account for donations. You are welcome to donate as little or as much as you’d like, and all of the proceeds will go toward improving this blog. I personally feel like donating is much more fun when you get some swag for it, but I imagine most of my readers will have a plethora of mugs and t-shirts, and may not want any more. And of course this option is much more efficient.
Thanks once again to all my wonderful readers. Your readership really fuels this blog and makes writing it that much more rewarding. I can’t wait to see the mathematical and programming treasures this blog leads us to next.
Until next time!