Sabbatical Update 1

While I’m breaking for lunch today, I’ll give a quick sabbatical update. But first, today’s #loveyourmath challenge (thanks, Ashley Johnson, for the kick in the pants!).

Today’s #loveyourmath topic: What inspired you to get into mathematics?

Math was definitely not my plan when going (back*) to college. The plan, which worked out tremendously, was to major in French and Econ and then go work for the World Bank or something. In Paris. Because, you know, Paris. But when I went to Colorado College, the block plan (one class at a time) made it very easy to start in Calc 3, then go on to DEs, then Linear Algebra, then… a year of math. And so I became a math major. I don’t know if this would or would not surprise my K-12 math teachers. In preschool, I had an existential crisis over counting (what if I keep counting? Is there an end to numbers, or no end, and which is worse?!) In 3rd-grade, I was hung up on fractions, decimals, and percents (why bother with three different ways of writing down the same thing?). I flunked 7th-grade pre-algebra (ask me about my recurring back-to-school nightmare) but then started liking math again in high school (I skipped a year of history to catch up and end my HS with Calculus). At that point, I figured I was done with math because what else is left after calculus? Anyway, I owe a huge debt to Patty Parsons and Ken Oliver who made math at Amity High School exciting to this nerd. I’m delighted to have been so thoroughly nurtured (nerd-tured?) at Colorado College by then-visiting professor Travis Kowalski; professors Marlow Anderson, David Brown, and Jane MacDougall; and former professor Amelia Taylor who overlapped with me the year I worked as paraprofessional. And I never would have gotten a PhD without the University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty, staff (thanks Marilyn and Liz!!), and fellow grad students (shout out to Ashley, Amanda, Lauren, Mike, Ben, Nora, Anisah, Sara, and so many more). Not to mention the huge amounts of coffee and beer in Lincoln; I have a spot in my heart reserved for all the baristas and bartenders that kept me hydrated.

*Yep, back. I dropped out of college the first time. I also dropped out of 1st- and 7th-grades. I like to think I was preparing for the sabbatical cycle.


Software wins and fails 2

As I get my very first sabbatical going, I’m working on some homework for the American Mathematical Society’s Math Research Community in Algebraic Statistics. So far, I’ve managed to calculate a few examples by hand. But now I’m down the software rabbit hole, and I find that it’s 4 hours later and I need to vent.


  • Got Singular installed *and* got my mac to shut up about “programs from the internet” every time I open it;
  • Ran an example in Singular with (almost) the expected output;
  • Ran the same example in Macaulay2 with the same output as Singular;
  • Installed Bertini and managed to get the Bertini.m2 package to work.
  • Installed 4ti2.


  • Can’t get my Aquamacs preferred theme (Solarized Dark) to stick despite hours of googling today and other days;
  • Can’t get Aquamacs to find and run Singular;
  • No clue what to do with 4ti2 now that it’s installed…

I’ve had a few other successes, though, unrelated to software:

  • Tracked down all the references for my homework (with the help of a librarian at Hamilton — thanks Glynis!)
  • Managed to remember some statistics.