I was just thinking to myself that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a new Carnival of Mathematics, and sure enough when I checked the calendar I found that the 11th edition is now up at Grey Matters. Hmmm, none of the math/cs blogs I read regularly posted any announcements about this; how am I supposed to remember these dates on my own? Maybe everyone is on vacation this week.
Perhaps it’s just the summer doldrums, but this edition of the carnival seems a bit thin. There was a little bit of discussion back in the 10th edition about whether it might make sense to split into two separate carnivals: one for math ed and one for college and research level math. However, the current edition is almost all math ed, so perhaps the carnival will just evolve in that direction on its own. (There were also a couple of entries that really left me wondering what the authors were smoking, but that’s another matter.)
There was one entry that struck me as being worth mentioning, though. John Armstrong at The Unapologetic Mathematician writes about categorification: the process of recasting a mathematical abstraction into the language of category theory, as a means of solidifying one’s understanding of the topic. He gives some simple examples expressing addition and multiplication in terms of set operations, and reinterpreting the results in terms of category theory. As someone who doesn’t know anything about category theory, I find this both intriguing and mystifying. He concludes his post with the adage, “If you want to understand something, try to categorify it!” I think that I first need to understand categories, and Armstrong has a series of posts on the basics of category theory that might help me in that regard.
While we’re on the topic (sort of), I wonder if it would be worthwhile to try to split off the TCS-related posts from the Carnival of Mathematics into their own carnival? That might sound a little strange seeing as how there were exactly zero computer science posts in this edition, but I’m thinking that having our own carnival would encourage more submissions. Or is the TCS blogosphere so small (and we already read each other’s blogs anyway) that having a carnival would be superfluous?