Posted in Humor, Physics, Projects

The arXiv According to arXiv vs. snarXiv

After more than 3/4 of a mil­lion guesses, in over 50,000 games played in 67 coun­tries, the results are clear: Sci­ence sounds like gobbledygook.

arXiv vs. snarXiv has been live for 6 months now, and it’s time to take a look at the results. Here’s how the game works. The user sees two titles: one is the title of an actual the­o­ret­i­cal high energy physics paper on the arXiv, and the other is a com­pletely fake title ran­domly gen­er­ated by the snarXiv. The user guesses which one is real, finds out if they’re right or wrong, and then starts over with a new pair of titles.

I’ve been record­ing the result of each guess, orig­i­nally just out of curios­ity. I never expected to get rea­son­able sta­tis­tics on the over 120,000 high energy the­ory papers on the arXiv. But after more than 750,000 guesses, that’s exactly what I’ve got, which means we can do some fun stuff. Con­tinue reading…

Posted in Code, Math, Physics, Projects

Lie Group Computations With Python

lie is a python mod­ule for com­pu­ta­tions with Lie groups, Lie alge­bras, rep­re­sen­ta­tions, root sys­tems, and more.

I based it on the com­puter alge­bra pack­age LiE, writ­ten by M. A. A. van Leeuwen, A. M. Cohen and B. Lisser in the early 90’s. They chose to imple­ment a pro­pri­etary script­ing lan­guage as a wrap­per for all the fancy math­e­mat­i­cal algo­rithms. While this lan­guage is use­ful for inter­ac­tive com­pu­ta­tions and short scripts, python is more expres­sive and pow­er­ful — def­i­nitely what you want when explor­ing your favorite excep­tional group.

A Fun Example

Here’s an exam­ple of using lie to do a cal­cu­la­tion that’s near and dear to every high energy theorist’s heart. We’ll show how the 10 + 5bar + 1 rep­re­sen­ta­tion of SU(5) con­tains a sin­gle stan­dard model gen­er­a­tion. First we’ll fire up python and import the lie mod­ule. Con­tinue reading…

Posted in Code, Humor, Physics, Projects

The snarXiv

The snarXiv is a ran­dom high-energy the­ory paper gen­er­a­tor incor­po­rat­ing all the lat­est trends, entropic rea­son­ing, and excit­ing mod­uli spaces. The arXiv is sim­i­lar, but occa­sion­ally less random.

Actu­ally, the snarXiv only gen­er­ates tan­ta­liz­ing titles and abstracts at the moment, while the arXiv deliv­ers match­ing papers as well. Details of the imple­men­ta­tion are below. I’m the author, and I don’t remem­ber exactly why I decided to do this. I did already have the frame­work lying around from a pre­vi­ous project, and I swear I spent more time doing research last week­end than imple­ment­ing snarXiv.org.

Sug­gested Uses for the snarXiv

Posted in Cartoon, Humor
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Energy Secretary! Evolve!


Posted in Code, Projects

The Real Theorem Generator: a Context Free Grammar

I should prob­a­bly doc­u­ment the real ori­gin of the The­o­rem of the Day and Phi­los­o­phy of the Day. Cof­fee and Henry David Thoreau are per­haps less involved than orig­i­nally indicated.

nothoreauThe the­o­rem gen­er­a­tor was writ­ten by a good friend of mine, Matt Gline, as a project for CS51: Abstrac­tion and Design in Com­puter Pro­gram­ming, which we took together as freshmen.

The assign­ment was to use LISP to imple­ment a con­text free gram­mar — basi­cally a set of rules for computer-generated mad libs. The sub­ject was what­ever we wanted. Good ones from past years include computer-generated mys­tery novel­las, course-guide reports, and per­for­mance art direc­tions. Every year there’s a con­test, and Matt’s the­o­rem gen­er­a­tor was hys­ter­i­cal enough to win him lunch at the fac­ulty club. Con­tinue reading…

Posted in Humor, Projects

Philosophy of the Day

New Phi­los­o­phy

Con­tinue reading…

Posted in Humor, Music, Physics

Honda Needs a Tune-Up

This is the story of how Honda engi­neers screwed up a big expen­sive project with a sim­ple arith­metic mis­take, tried to fudge their result with sound edit­ing soft­ware, and con­grat­u­lated them­selves for being totally awesome.

When I was a kid, my fam­ily used to drive up to The Pin­ery in Ontario, a beau­ti­ful park by Lake Huron. Very scenic. My favorite part, though, was a stretch of road a half-hour out­side of the park. To dis­cour­age reck­less Cana­di­ans from bar­rel­ing past the houses and barns, the local gov­ern­ment carved five sets of grooves in the road before every stop sign. Drive over them, and the car would vibrate: “vbvb­vbvb… vbvb­vbvb… vbvb­vbvb… vbvb­vbvb… vbvb­vbvb.” The faster you drive, the higher the pitch.

My Dad is a musi­col­o­gist, with a par­tic­u­lar inter­est in tun­ing. So there was no way he was going to pass up the chance to exper­i­ment with this instru­ment. Every time we approached some grooves, he’d start fast over the first set, and try to slow down by the last set, to play a descend­ing scale: G-F-E-D-C. If there was no oncom­ing traf­fic after the stop sign, he’d swing over to the other side of the road and play an ascend­ing scale as we sped up. Con­tinue reading…