Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Competition

Working through a research paper can feel like a full-time job.

I’ve always found it tragic how research papers have to dress up what can be simple notions into some which are incredibly complex. At its core, the problem lies with finding good notation to express a given question or problem. Without this, the reader has to translate from opaque notation to the simple but informal arguments, which are easier to understand.

Pattern Recognition

Magical incantations in mathematics.

I’ve always found these sentences in mathematics to be so lyrical. They almost want you to complete them in this way, even when we can get a little carried away.

Tip of the Iceberg

The difference between what others think you know and what you actually know.

“Can you teach me everything you know?”

“Uh…that was it.”

Framing

Trying to fence the perfect area of your house to look presentable on camera.

If only I could make a “bubble of sound” around me…

Toy Model Regression

Physicists: Simplifying until anyone can solve the problem.

“Next: I can write a series of papers doing progressively more complicated perturbations and expansions.”

Numerical Instability

Machine learning is really about praying that things all work out.

That platform is only balancing because I’ve had to tune the mass of that left sphere perfectly. It practically took a neural network to figure out the right mass.

Inspection

Grad students think that lines in a research paper are much more significant than they really are.

“Do you think you should maybe polish up this draft a bit for clarity?”

“What? This isn’t a draft! I spent a whole thirty minutes working on it. Everyone I want to understand this will be able to, and the others will just have to figure it out.”

Linear Theory

The trick to getting your linear theory to work is making the data points bigger.

“So the size of the dots indicate your error bars?”

“Oh no, I only add those in when I’m really desperate.”

Ising

The Ising model is what everyone starts with.

Most condensed matter research nowadays is just a list of footnotes to the Ising model.

Narrow Band

The narrow band which is what you know of your research field resembles that of the visible band in the electromagnetic spectrum.

If you work diligently, you might get to double the width of your knowledge.