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Open Lab Notebook

Brief updates on my daily work. For more polished postings about math, collective behavior, research collaborations, and such, see News and Research.

I hope to work toward a more complete open notebook: for now I'm only posting updates on some of my work.

Publish Date: 
Thu, 12/01/2011 - 00:37

A few years ago I started telling friends that I would like to be an applied mathematician for the public, somehow. Unlike pure mathematicians, who work at a remove from everyday concerns and are something like composers, answering to nobody but the Muse, applied mathematicians live more of a have-gun-will-travel life, working for clients, solving the clients' problems, and developing new theory along the way. The clients are often corporations and the military. Does this affect what we study, what we learn, and what we don't learn? Of course it does!

Publish Date: 
Sun, 11/27/2011 - 21:36

What can we learn from people who know a lot about distributed computing? For instance, Google uses many thousands of computers working together to divide up a search request and get the answer incredibly quickly.

Imagine all the different cities' Occupy movements trying to make a national- or global-scale decision together. A good process might make the difference between doing it efficiently and effectively, and giving up in frustration.

Publish Date: 
Wed, 11/23/2011 - 18:45

Suppose a group meets to solve a problem, with the intention to find a solution that everyone's willing to accept. This is the basic premise of my consensus research project. Each person values potential solutions (proposals) positively or negatively, and the objective is to find one whose value is positive for everyone. What are good ways to find that solution, is the question. So then...

Publish Date: 
Mon, 11/21/2011 - 15:12

For the research on consensus process, naturally I've been collecting reading from this year's Occupy movements. I've just updated my literature review section with those, and with some good documents about popular assemblies in Argentina, Spain and elsewhere.

Here is the updated literature review.

Publish Date: 
Fri, 11/11/2011 - 11:31
  • Birds, fish, bees
  • Craig Reynolds's "boids", Iain Couzin's cancer cells
  • Slime molds!
  • Military and civilian swarming in space
  • Abstract forms of swarming: Anonymous and DDoS tactics; collective innovation and learning, i.e. science, arts, technology, evolution
  • Critical mass, Occupy Wall Street. John Robb's "open source insurgency"
Publish Date: 
Mon, 11/07/2011 - 16:17

Course proposals are due for next year at SFAI. I'm hoping to redo the math class I'm doing now, and also proposing a class on boundaries in biology and human life, based on Alan Rayner's remarkable book, Degrees of Freedom.

Course Proposals on the wiki.

Publish Date: 
Wed, 11/02/2011 - 11:45

I'm taking part in an experimental project to try funding research through donations from the public.

I invite you to have a look at my research project, consider donating, and pass on the link to anyone else who might be interested:

Publish Date: 
Sun, 10/30/2011 - 13:07

Here's my video for the SciFund crowdfunding challenge:

Soon the full project proposal will be up on with the rest of the SciFund projects. Meantime, here it is on my working wiki...

Update: re-edited the video: shorter, easier to hear the words, and closed captioned, 10/31.


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