057. A Day in the Summer Pt. 2

tldr: summer is still busy but nice

This blog is a reference to 039. A Day in the Summer. Truth be told, the reason I wrote this last time was because of the MIT blogger application being out but also because I felt like I was doing some pretty cool stuff! I have finished the three blogs I needed to do for the application but also I had a really really good day last Thursday1, so fuck it, time for a sequel.

9:30-10:00am: I know, it’s mildly wild to think about me waking up this early (or at least it may seem a bit weird to anyone who has ever lived with me for a bit). But to be frank, my pain meds have been helping me get better, more fulfilling sleep, which means I now wake up at like, 7am refreshed?? Anyways so I’m up and already cool things are happening!

Yesterday I went to the stationary store in central to get a new notebook. I started keeping a physical notebook for SPUR this summer and oh my god how have I never done something like this before– look at this:

SPUR notebook (left) and new unused notebook for Complex Analysis stuff (right).

She’s beautiful, and I will have her for year’s to come. I can already picture her in a future office one day, lined up with the numerous other notebooks I will hopefully fill by then. So I went to the store to get the new notebook and I really wanted some red G2 pens but they didn’t have any. So they said they could get me some from the warehouse?? I know that this in reality makes sense, after all they are a stationary *store* so it makes sense to have a warehouse, and that they would get me some, and they would be here on Thursday.

So cut to Thursday, 9:30am, and here I am as they open their doors to get two new bright red .07 G2 pens. Brilliant way to start the day. I am well aware that I spent the last few paragraphs talking about the process of getting pens, I’m sorry, but it makes me really happy so I guess I’m not that sorry in reality.

Then, I went to the stud to grab coffee with my friend Vro at Dunkin before they had to run to a UROP training. Working in a lab where you have to get specific training2 seems wild to me, but I am very excited for them. I walked with them to Building 56, and by now the coffee is kicking in, and so my day *really* begins.

10:00-11:30am: So with SPUR we have to meet with the program directors every week. My mentor and I are very lucky in that we decided what times we wanted as soon as the schedule came out, so our meeting isn’t until 11:30 every Thursday. Thus, I have 1.5hrs to kill between now and then, which entails mathematics graduate student lounge free coffee, talking to various math people in there and learning cool things about them, and overall trying to figure out what I want to present during the meeting. More on that in a second.

I also spend this time working on editing the new math blog I set up on this blog (see the top right?! Cool right). I figured out how to set that up last night, which meant this morning I got to work on tweaking it– choosing the titles I wanted, making a new page for it, changing URLs, etc. For this blog I want it to be like Numberphile in regards to mathematicians talking about mathematics they find interesting, but perhaps a bit more rigorously. Y’know? Like I absolutely love Numberphile and I wouldn’t want them to change their content at all, but sometimes I want to know what research looks like in abstract algebra, or how to motivate difficult topics like differential equations. So I spent this small portion of my morning thinking about what I want my first (non-intro) math blog to be. There will be more on that later (see 1:30-1:45pm).

And then, it is time to meet with the program directors.

11:30am-12:01pm3: During this meeting I updated Prof. Moitra and Prof. Jerison, the program directors of SPUR with Slava, on the work I’ve been doing with my graduate student mentor over the last week. I talked about how I proved a three year old conjecture over the last week, roughly how the argument works, and where I might want research to go from here.

I really really want to say more here, but this will likely have to wait to go into a math blog, sometime after the paper is published. But still! I proved a conjecture! They said the Theorem statement was Very Beautiful and I agree.

12:01-1:30pm: During the meeting, I had gotten an email from the Boston Barber tattoo shop to schedule a time for my fishbowl tattoo! This felt really cool. I am currently scheduled for November 3, 2022, so there may be an update about this then.

After that call, it was time for lunch. I went to the stud again to grab lunch4 with Vro. We ate with a student who is visiting from Colorado State University (hi Isabelle, if you happen to somehow be reading this blog. Sorry if I spelled your name wrong)!

I gotta say, it is really interesting seeing how many people still come to MIT over the summer. Sure the tourists, but that is to be expected, but moreso all the summer programs. There are high schoolers (as far as I can tell mostly from Boston) studying mathematics, learning about science, doing God knows what for numerous weeks of the summer and it just seems so cool!! Maybe next summer I will spend some time being a leader for one of those programs. Beyond high schoolers, there are college students coming here for research including, but absolutely not limited to, Isabelle.

After eating we went on a very short tour around campus, walking down the infinite, taking her to the mural wall, and chairing (of course, we had to, we were there). Then, Vro has to go back to the Koch for work, and I have a meeting with Larry (the SPUR professor I am working with) at 1:45, so we go our separate ways.

1:30-1:45pm: While waiting in the hallway for my meeting with Larry, I run into Professor Jerison, which is just the person I’ve been meaning to talk to! See recently I’ve been thinking about what I want the first math blog to be, and I think I want it to be on ways to approach intuition behind (linear, single variable) differential equations in a more algebraic way. This idea all stemmed from how the independent solutions to a constant coefficient differential equations can be found using the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra.

Professor Jerison teaches some differential equations topics and has been studying it for quite some time, which made him the perfect (available) person to talk to about this. This is all I really have to say for this time frame until the blog is written/posted but this still made my day even better so I included it here.

1:45-2:30pm: Time to meet with Larry! I had been meaning to talk to him about, basically, what my last blog post was about. I’ve been debating between taking a really hard class (18.116: Riemann Surfaces, for a few reasons), or continuing with research. Personally, research sounds more fun to me but I valued his input academically. He ultimately suggested that with more niche classes I shouldn’t worry about Taking them just to take them in undergrad. He suggested maybe attending the first few lectures to see if I like it, and to not feel pressure one way or the other. I really like this advice!

Then, I talked with him about all the possible places this research could go, though again I think I should unfortunately probably keep those secret for now (for any number of reasons). I think he liked the ideas I was coming up with, though in hindsight some of them might’ve been dumb and I definitely might’ve been talking way too fast given we had a limited amount of time. I also asked him if I could join his graduate student reading group and he said he would think about it — which isn’t a no! I’m excited for the possibility of joining but I understand if not given they are his graduate students.

And then he threw me a curve ball I wasn’t fully expecting: he asked if I could outline our proof of the conjecture– but oh wait! he only had twenty minutes before the next meeting!

And I said “That’s fine I think that is plenty of time”, and went up to the board. I then proceeded to write down the major theorems, describe how they were used/techniques behind proving them, what papers motivated these examples, and could talk about all the main ideas in *20 minutes*. While! Also! answering his questions in as much detail as he wanted!! I had just asked him if I could join his graduate student reading group, and then I proceeded to feel like an actual graduate student for 20 minutes as I talked about a really difficult proof at a very high level. Granted, it helped that he understands the techniques much better than I might at this point, but it still felt really cool.

We are going to meet sometime in a few weeks to discuss possible places for research to go from here.

Then, the person he was meeting at 2:30 showed up and it was time for me to leave. As a random side note– I knew the person he was meeting from a super cool project I did with OCW??? I don’t know, I felt really connected in the department after that very brief random circumstance. Anyways,

2:30-4:00pm: I am meeting with a friend to practice our SPUR presentations at four, but I still had 1.5 more hours to burn. I send out a few emails, listen to an episode of A Crown of Candy that I’ve watched before, and ultimately just tried to chill. I started reading and preparing some notes about the differential equations blog until it was time for the practice run.

4:00-6:00pm: I have some things to say about the practice run, but first!! There was an ice cream truck in Killian Court that I got free ice cream from! And I ran into Alan! Today kept getting better and better.

Anyways so now it’s time to practice the 22 minute presentations. Holy crap. 20 minutes isn’t nearly enough. I was planning to talk about 1/3 of the results we looked at throughout this summer and even that was too much. I ended up taking way longer than I should’ve during this meeting, but to be fair a good amount of it was also me trying to figure out What I should cut out. Overall, I think it was useful and I have a much better handle on How much I can teach/talk about in 22 minutes. Tomorrow (Friday), I have a meeting with the graduate mentor to do a practice presentation then, so hopefully that will go well and fit within the time constraints5.

My friend gave his practice presentation which was much better prepared, and I very quickly realized “oh my god there are so many parts of math that I Hardly have any intuition about”, but it’s cool to constantly be realizing that! I’m glad his project went well, and he was able to fit in one of his major results in the 22 minute time span.

Then, I ran to ADP (summer fraternity housing), dropped off some of my things, and went back to campus because

6:00-9:00pm: I am hanging out with Vro at the Koch! Well, hanging out as in Tangentially existing. I can’t actually be in the lab with them due to research requirements and that sort of thing. But they had to be on campus working from 10am-9pm. So I told them I could come by and chill in one of the lounges by the lab. I worked on my notes, watched the GMTK: Game Jam Review video, and took a nice nap.

9:00-11:00pm: After Vro finished, we met up with another friend and went to grab dinner and ice cream (at McDonalds and Tosci’s). Overall a very good end to a very good day. I decided then and there (after talking about it with my mom) that I would write a blog about it. And here we are.

This day was far busier than most days this summer. Some times I am running from meeting to meeting like this, trying to squeeze some social moments in the in-between, but really most days are much calmer. Most days I met with my mentor for the required one hour, went to grab coffee, and worked for a few hours before heading home. And while those days are cool, those aren’t exactly the sort of days that end up being blog worthy. I think this day definitely was.

I’m excited to write the math blogs for y’all, especially excited to get to using this new notebook, and ultimately feeling conflicted about the fact that the fall semester begins in about a month. Who knows, maybe I will write about A Day in the Fall at some point. We will see.

  1. and the last thing I would want is to write about this really good day in November lol.
  2. unpaid???
  3. I’m still angry that pm starts at noon not going to lie, but this is unimportant.
  4. Literally nothing beats Caroliscious.
  5. It did! It was a really productive trial run of the presentation, and I think next week the real thing will go very well. I love getting to give Chalk Talks.

Published by Paige Bright

Hi- my name is Paige Alexandria Bright. I am a rising junior at MIT interested in mathematics and philosophy. I have been writing this blog since the beginning of COVID. Lets see where this goes.

2 thoughts on “057. A Day in the Summer Pt. 2

  1. She’s beautiful » my notebooks are nonbinary

    Working in a lab where you have to get specific training » it turns out this is true for most urops, its the math and cs urops that are weird

    how I proved a three year old conjecture » god

    it still felt really cool » it also SOUNDS very cool!!

    20 minutes isn’t nearly enough » absolutely not lol. you have to really cut


  2. Honestly so valid to have nonbinary notebooks. My notebooks are cottagecore lesbians /hj

    God>> RIGHT I feel very cool

    It also SOUNDS very cool!!>> It was!! Gah I wish I had a recording of those 20 minutes. I wrote in my notebook “this is a core memory”

    You have to really cut>> I have and I think I did so in a Good way mostly talking about intuition rather than the nitty details (my brain in the background: “BUT I LIKE THE DETAILS”)


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