Nov. 16th, 2009

At the halfway point in the month, my writing project is up to 20,299 words and 16 diagrams. I've come to think that whoever said that a picture was worth a thousand words wasn't a mathematical writer, because my pictures would seem to be generally worth only about 250 words. It's laid out at 41 pages right now (and that's normal A4 paper, not tiny book paper), solving 135 problems out of my textbook.

I'm thinking that my output is probably due to drop like a rock for the rest of the month. Even though there are 192 problems left, I've nearly covered the entire syllabus of the undergraduate course that I took (and then graded for four semesters), so the sections that are left are some combination of difficult and esoteric. The solutions will probably be longer when they come, but I think that they probably will require much more thought per word, and 1000 words per day is probably too optimistic.

I'm thinking about writing a chapter of my own about the process of mathematical proof writing, as my papergrading experience lead me to the belief that a lot of people do not have the innate talent to write out a well-argued proof by induction or proof by contradiction even if they understand fundamental logic and the material they are trying to convey. Alternatively, I guess I could jump over to my abstract algebra, topology, or combinatorics textbooks to flesh out my word count for the rest of the month. Then again, I might keep on hitting my head against graph theory for a while and be pleased with the new revelations that come out of it even if I miss the "goal" of NaNoWriMo, which I've already perverted by writing non-fiction and having worked on the material ahead of time.

ETA: OMG, I just found out that I've been robbed all this time. How many words are there in the sentence "Let v be a vertex of G"? I think there are seven. But if I throw math tags around the two variable names to give them the italic look and spacings of math variables, LyX doesn't count them as words. I'm pretty shocked that a mathematical layout application would offer the feature of a word count and then undercount like that.


Matthew Daly

December 2012

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