New Year’s Resolutions

By Adam Topaz

It’s almost that time of year again — New Year’s. That means people all around the world will be making some sort of resolution which they will promptly break on January 3rd, 2011. Unlike mostly everyone else, some of us mathematicians might have different resolutions than the usual “lose weight,” “exercise more,” “rescue 32 kittens,” or any of the 1000 other canonical examples. Here are some of mine:

Math Resolution # 1: Go to more seminars. I attend the Galois Theory and Algebra seminars in my department fairly regularly. But maybe attending some seminars in different subjects would be beneficial. At the very least — it’s good to have some level of knowledge in different branches of math. Even better — it could inspire new ideas related to my research!

Math Resolution # 2: Be productive. Ok… this might be one of the “canonical” 1000. Three years ago, I bought a whiteboard for my home. Two years ago, I, fairly successfully, cut out Internet flash games from my life. Last year… well, I didn’t really change anything. My plan for this year is #2.5. Do you have any suggestions?

Math Resolution #2.5: Write More. Over the last month or so, I’ve started writing down (LaTeX, of course) any new mathematical idea I come across, no matter how small. For me, this helps in the following ways:
1. It helps the idea develop.
2. It helps me find possible generalizations.
3. It helps in finding subtle details or difficulties.

Math Resolution # 3: Prove theorems. This depends heavily on the success of Resolution #2, and #2.5. I proved some; I want to prove more. Unfortunately, the “plan” for this resolutions is even less clear than #2.

Math Resolution # 4: Publish. This depends heavily on the success of Resolution #3.

I would love to hear any of your mathematical (or non-mathematical) resolutions.
Happy holidays and a happy new year to everyone!

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