August 02, 2007

Shooting range

University of Toronto Administration decided to close the shooting range beneath of Hart House. Official goal is to keep campus gun-free. No guns - no shooting. However there was not a single instance of the safety violation, leave alone the breach of security in this range.

Meanwhile there were plenty cases when windoze computers on campus were exploited to send tons of spam. So, it would be much better to make the Campus

Windoze free

Posted by Victor at 02:42 PM

July 11, 2007

We also oppose ... III

I forgot to mention that the proposed statement fails short of naming the authors of the calls to boycott Israel while picks up Israel for preventing Palestinean students.

During WWII these folks would probably propose the statement

 We oppose to attempts to eliminate the Jews. We also oppose to actions of Jews pursuing the World dominance

Posted by Victor at 10:44 AM

We also oppose ... II

In response I sent a letter

Dear Ms. Salo,

Please find my response to the President recent message and forward it to Human Rights Committee:

I was really dismayed to read the proposal statement. While rejecting the obviously wrong calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions from the bunch of third-rate scientists, hypocrites and anti-Semites, it gives the credibility to the old canard they used by them to justify such calls. What is more: this statement hides the fact this time the proposed boycott targets not only Universities but also individuals:

"Conference invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals, and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies." (

Should I remind that our Academy was silent at terrorist attack on Mt. Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University, which killed 7 people and wounded 80, most of them international students and researcher?

Or when Hezballah was indiscriminately shelling Haifa, home of Technion and Haifa University, where many of our colleagues work?

Or when Hamas converted Palestinean Universities into their strongholds and terrorists shelters?

Or when our own member, Dr. Elmasry confirmed that everyone in Israel and anyone and everyone in Israel, irrespective of gender, over the age of 18 is a valid target (this is from original transcript)? Should I remind that it includes all of our colleagues and almost all students?

Should I also remind that arrested Palestinians in Israeli prisons can get their degrees at Israeli Universities by a correspondence ( while Israelis captured by Hamas and Hezballah are kept incommunicado?

Or that people with University (even Medical) degrees could be deeply involved in the terror, as recent events in UK clearly demonstrate.

As a member of Royal Society I definitely the proposed resolution deplorable. I do not think that our Academy should follow other Academies if they support obviously wrong resolution. On the contrary our Academy should demonstrate the true leadership in the same manner as our Prime Minister demonstrated during last meeting of Francofonia and as Canadian representatives did recently at few international forums, when the sole voice of Canada repelled unjust resolutions, seemingly supported by everyone else.

*) From transcript: (

ELMASRY: The same, if they are women in the army...
COREN: Anyone over the age of 18 in Israel is a valid target.
ELMASRY: Anybody above 18 is a part of the Israeli army...
COREN: So everyone in Israel and anyone and everyone in Israel, irrespective of gender, over the age of 18 is a valid target?
ELMASRY: Yes, I would say.

Victor Ivrii, Professor, FRSC (Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences)
Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto,
40 St.George Str., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E4, Canada
office: ES 4141

(416)978-4031 (of), (416)978-4107 (fax)

WWW home page:

Posted by Victor at 10:36 AM

We also oppose ...

As a Fellow of Royal Society of Canada I received the message

(French part skipped)

On behalf of RSC President Dr. Patricia Demers, please find below a statement by the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, kindly supplied by Dr. Eva Kushner. We will seek the endorsement of RSC at the next Council meeting.


June 14, 2007

We, the members of the Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (Network), oppose renewed initiatives that support an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We also oppose Israeli restrictions on Palestinian students that prevent them from studying at institutions of higher education in Israel, the West Bank, and abroad. We call on national academies affiliated with our Network to do the same.

We reiterate our belief in the free exchange of ideas and opinions among scientists and scholars in all countries which thereby stimulates the development of collaborative educational, research and human-rights endeavors within academies and the institutions with which they are affiliated. Boycotts deny our colleagues their rights to freedom of opinion and expression; interfere with their ability to exercise their bona fide academic freedoms; inhibit the free circulation of scientists and scientific ideas; impose unjust punishment, and impede the instrumental role played by scientists and scholars in the promotion of peace and human rights. (For full text of June 13, 2002, statement, see ttp://

Posted by Victor at 10:21 AM

July 07, 2007


A motion inside of British University and College Union to impose boycott of Israeli Academic institutions is widely known and condemned by everyone who is not anti-Semitic bigot or hypocrite. What is less known, however, that these time such calls go further than this, targeting not only Universities but individual academicians as well:

Conference invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals, and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies

I am not going to discuss the wrongs of the boycott (since many people more eloquent than me did it), I want just to understand what these calls actually mean.

Boycott by Individuals Does this individual boycott includes refusal to read academic journals published in Israel? Or refusal to read any article published by the individual who is Israeli and did not dissociate himself/herself from "such policies" if if published in Israel? Or everywhere else?

Now assume that the British academician (Say Prof. Bull) joins such boycott and publishes an article containing also results very similar to those published by an Israeli much earlier but without any mention of this. It definitely gives a black eye to the Prof. Bull who is not up to date in his field and also gives a black eye to the journal which does not provide a decent peer review. On the other hand, what is going to do Prof. Bull if he submits a paper, and then a reviewer (say Provessor I.) notes that some results are not new and were published earlier by an Israeli but article does not mention this and therefore should not be accepted in its present form? If Prof. Bull explains that he has not read a paper because he boycotts... the reviewer would be completely justified to write that Prof. Bull is ignorant (does not know his field), arrogant (refuses to know) and that the reviewer does not want to waste his/her time anymore reviewing papers of Prof. Bull. Not because Prof. Bull joined boycott, but because of this makes reviewing his papers more time consuming task.

Position of Journal It is extremely unlikely that the Editorial Board agrees with Prof. Bull because this would severely tarnish the reputation of the journal, losing potential authors, reviewers and subscribers.

On the other hand, can journal refuse to accept for publication an article submitted by an Israeli on the basis of boycott? This would cause even greater outrage, and the loss of the authors, reviewers, members of editorial board and subscriptions will be very significant. Further, some subscribers could cancel subscriptions and request money back since the journal lost its quality because it does not follow a mandate of an international journal. Probably journal will go to drain almost instantly.

Conclusion So, basically joining the boycott is equivalent if not to Academic Seppuku then to Academic Self-Maiming and is acceptable only for those who has nothing to lose: fourth-rate researchers. But ... it is exactly who are the authors of the calls to boycott: fourth-rate researchers with no academic credibility.

Posted by Victor at 05:47 PM

June 30, 2007


I already wrote that windiot Eugene Siciunas wants to put the whole mail on Megacrap Exchange server.

His soulmates at University of Bologna already did this. Result? Enormous flow of outgoing spam and certain services (like AOL) deamed the whole domain as the source of spam and refuse accept email originating from it.

Unfortunately it affects also the Department of Mathematics despite the fact it runs its own UNIX based mail servers. But they are collateral damage. Should we suffer as well?

Posted by Victor at 10:55 AM

June 23, 2007

Digitalizing an Old Book. II

Converting to Djvu

I scanned Russian math book (310 pp) and got 23 MB pdf file (155 double pages). My experiments show that

My later experience:

One needs to remember: for serious scanning you need a serious scanning s/w; scanning directly to Acrobat is not an appropriate for the serious job:

Posted by Victor at 03:37 AM

Digitalizing an Old Book

I have a book published in 1985 in LNM, and it is basically a xerox copy of the manuscript, with typewritten text and handwritten formulae. It was 242 pp. So I decided to digitalize it. Previously I copied my book each time covering an opposite page so each page contained no parasite text. Rather unpleasant but unavoidable job. Then I scanned it to Acrobat 7. Unfortunately ADF on my scanner broke and ADF at library gone long ago, so the job was not extremely pleasant, especially because Acrobat each time previewed page and automatically determined if it is BW document, or BW picture, or text/in-line art (and I listed only choices were made). The result was 56 MB file.

Then I ran OCR which increased it slightly and also OCR was very timid: certain clearly pieces of text were not OCRed. I tried ReadIris 9 (which IMHO is a superior OCR s/w) but it was too aggressive and tried to OCR even formulae replacing unrecognized characters by ~. Not good.

Converting document to B/W, cropping out margins and setting compatibility level only with pdf 1.6 (aka Acrobat 7) I reduced document drastically to 11 MB but it could not be handled by earlier Acrobat or by Ghostscript 8.51 and thus was not usable by itself for further transformations. And it was poorly OCRed and not very nicely looking. I converted it to 17 MB postscript file using Acrobat 7.I  converted then ps  to djvu using djvulibre converters installed on my Mac but there is no OCR. So instead I used a trial version of LizardTech Djvu Document Express Pro = Djvu Editor Pro 5.0. It was many hours job! However in the end I got 14 MB djvu document which was better looking than the original pdf and had much supeior OCR (I think LizardTech uses ReadIris OCR engine). I also inserted clickable links into the table of content using the same Djvu Editor Pro. 

All this was wrong approach. Later I did a correct job and the current digitalization is the result of this better approach.

Posted by Victor at 03:29 AM

May 29, 2007

Hardworking teenagers

It has been reported by Statistics Canada that 15-19 y.o. students in Canada work more than their peers in other countries. 50 hours a week! Is this a reason to celebrate?

Between school, homework, a job, volunteer work and household chores, teens put in 9.2 hours on school days and 3.5 hours on non-school days. While they spend more time at paying jobs on school days than teens in every country except the U.S. and the Netherlands, our teens also devote more time to school work than all other teens except for the Belgians.

The problem however is that the knowledge they gain at school (at least in mathematics, physics, computer science) is completely inadequate to the time and efforts spent. The home assignments usually are stupid and tedious and often irrelevant to the subject. Marks do not reflect the knowledge, abilities or skills, but only readiness to waste time doing these assignments and to follow all the instructions.

What is worse: the best students have very little time left to study advanced topics they are interested in (and their efforts find neither appreciation nor reward at school - and in Admissions and Awards Ofiice at our University)!

It is time to base admissions on the real knowledge rather than school marks!

Posted by Victor at 05:35 AM

May 14, 2007

Electronic vs Paper

In our University several subscriptions for paper or electronic Math. journals disappeared (we cancelled? not renewed? Our Central Library staff is so ignorant and arrogant, that one cannot predict what happens next.

So, I want to discuss electronic vs paper.

I would like to express my personal opinion, which is extreme: I find electronic versions much more convenient: one can access them instantly from home,..., one can search them, copy and paste. Many journals and some books edited in pre-TeX epoch are now digitalized and one can access them either free unconditionally or free if there is a site license.

I find that TeXnical quality of papers in arXiv is better than in the electronic
copies of print journals.

One needs to remember some extra money costs associated with print journals: binding, keeping them, and moving them too; also these journals tend to be borrowed/lost exactly in the moment one needs them which is never the case with e-journals (well, sometimes web site could be down but the library could be just closed). Also going to vacations one can take in laptop much more copies of e-journals than of print journals would fit into an average track.

However with journals not free but subscribed one must take into account the following:

Both librarian and webmaster can run things poorly.

While paper journals belong to a particular library, the site license belongs to the whole University. Thus one needs to compare the price of site license and a single paper subscription. If the same journal is in few libraries then some negotiations are needed to replace some of paper subscriptions by site license and share the savings. Finally, one needs to make sure that if we replace our paper subscription by a site license, it will be OUR license which means that decision to continue with it, or cancel it, or replace by something else would be to our sole discretion.

Note that the relative prices of electronic vs paper can drastically change in the future.

There is another difference between electronic and paper subscriptions at least with some journals: electronic subscription can give you access to (may be) all volumes of some journal but only during the subscription year.

With PJM my attempts to get full text from UT IP address result in the same error message even if I am looking for 2002 year paper; 2001 year papers are available even from my motel IP (which definitely has no subscription).

So, if in 2007 we subscribe electronically for Galactic Journal of Mathematics we (probably) get all its volumes from 1089 BC until now, but if we cancel subscription in 2008 all this wealth disappears. Unless we download everything and save it on hard disk(s) and run our little Department server. Not sure if it is legal but I cannot recall signing anything which prevents me (individually) from keeping legally downloaded article as long as I need it. Copying and distributing it may be another matter.

It could be different with other journals: say our subscription for Russian Math. Surveys (translated to English Uspehi Matematicheskih Nauk) covers relatively recent volumes but not really old ones, but Stanford has also subscription for old volumes (however one can consider this as two different journals, and subscription for each covers the whole range of years).

Practical conclusions: if our University is subscribed electronically to some journal and you think that you may use some article in the future, save it now, without waiting when some smart guy from the central library cancel subscription to save mony for Library Science Newsletter or Marxism-Mazohism Daily.

Also if you visit some University which has an electronic subscription to some journal we do not, and you think that you may use some article in the future, save it now! If you do not have the laptop with you, save it and sftp or just email it (again, it is no different from making photocopy and taking with you).

Finally, it is possible that the exactly the same article published in the journal we have no access is published in arXiv or on web page of the author. So far I did not hear that mathematical journals restrict this, but I heard that in the social sciences many journals are much more keen about the author rights and require an oath from the author that an electronic copy of the submitted paper was never published and moreover will not be published as well.

Posted by Victor at 08:20 AM

March 17, 2007

International π Day

Students of MIT announced 3.14 to be an International π Day. What one could expect from engineers? Even ancient Egyptians knew better: 22/7 is a far better approximaton to π than 3.14.

So, let us announce

22 July = International π Day

Posted by Victor at 12:20 PM

December 13, 2006


Since Mr Siciunas (what a schmuck) failed to respond and since his original email belonged to the public domain (was sent to the broad audience) I believe I can make my response public too. My responses are in red, my comments are in blue

On 4-Dec-06, at 3:31 PM, Eugene Siciunas wrote:


CNS is inviting your comments and concerns with respect to a
proposal to replace the existing UTORschedule service with a service
based on Microsoft Exchange technology. We have scheduled two "Town
Hall" type meetings to demonstrate the advantages and new functionality
being offered in this proposal. The meetings will be on Tuesday,
December 12 and Friday, December 15 at 2:00 in Room 1200 of the Bahen
Centre for IT. Please indicate your interest in attending by sending a
note to: in order to give us an idea of the amount
of refreshments to provide.

I am not using mail (well I have an account with the forwarding) and only occasionally use Oracle calendar (when I am the member of the Dept Space Committee which needs to schedule together with the certain University services. However the whole idea does not look right for me.

1) It is not clear if users of will be able to use any POP, IMAP client or web front end to send/receive their mail or they will be forced to use specific Microsoft client. The latter would be move in the completely wrong direction. My spam-client log shows that Outlook Express and Office Outlook are vehicles for spam and account for 95% of all spam sent to me.

2) It looks like to use Calendar one will need to install certain MS software on their computers. It means exclusion of Linux/Unix users for sure and probably Macintosh Users as well.

``Macintosh and Linux users will be dealt on the case-per-case basis''

What about AIX/IRIX and other Unix users? Why one cannot use Web interface? There are plenty of calendars of this type.

Kicking out not-Windows users I would consider as absolutely intolerable. I use Macs and I know that there is Outluck Excess for it but I keep my Macs clean of M$ crapware.

Appended below is the Executive Summary from our "Proposal for the
Replacement of the Existing UTORmail/UTORschedule Email and Calendaring
Systems with a Microsoft Exchange Environment for the Faculty and Staff
of the University of Toronto". The full text of the proposal is
available at:

In order to maintain the confidentiality of the proposal, we ask that
you use your UTORid and password to access the site. (This is the user
id and password you currently use to access UTORmail and UTORschedule).

This invitation is being sent to all the users of UTORschedule, since
they will be the most affected by the proposal. Also receiving this
notice will be members of the Computing Management Board (CMB), the
Academic Computing and Tech-Ops committees and the nw and ut admins groups.

The process for evaluating this proposal begins with the December town
hall meetings with the UTORschedule end user community and with the
technical staff supporting them. A proposal of this scale can be
expected to raise a number of questions and CNS intends to work with
UTORschedule users after they have had time to digest the information so
as to address their concerns. We hope the process will culminate in
positive responses percolating up from the users and staff to their
department chairs, and thence to the deans and finally to the CMB. A
successful conclusion would be the CMB's recommendation to the Vice
president and Provost to fund this proposal.

Thanking you in advance for your interest,

Eugene Siciunas
Director, Computing and Networking Services


Why they hire Windoze losers to the job?

Executive Summary

The use of calendaring and email by faculty and staff has become
critical to fulfilling the mission of the University. The institutional
services, UTORschedule and UTORmail have fallen behind in terms of
meeting the availability and functionality demands of its users. The
email processors are not redundant, causing outages in the event of
failure or maintenance activity. While stored messages are protected
against disk drive failures, they remain susceptible to system problems,
corruption, human error or user deletion, and since current backups
require a five-day cycle, up to five days~R worth of messages could be
lost. When users exceed their storage quotas of 120MB, they can no
longer receive email until their storage is reduced.

All of these situations are incompatible with a mission-critical
service. Users demand better functionality and a seamless environment
for client-based and web access to email and calendar functions, such as
the ability to share address books and folders, have the same address
book, regardless of mode of access, the same web interface as with a
desk-top client, integration with PDAs, better performing mailing list
distribution, the ability to implement end-to-end encryption of email
messages etc. These are functional features necessary in a
mission-critical service.

The recommended solution to address these deficiencies is the deployment
of a Microsoft Exchange environment for those faculty and staff that use
UTORschedule and UTORmail.

This environment would use redundant procesors, with active fail-over,
fault-tolerant storage with a daily, impact-free, backup regimen with a
two-week retention period to safeguard against data loss. Storage quotas
would be at least three times greater than current levels. This solution
will provide seamless integration of email, webmail and calendaring,
with the same look and feel and access from office, home or Internet
café, anytime. The homogeneity of the Exchange environment will afford
an opportunity to plan end-to-end encryption of email messages to
satisfy FIPPA requirements.

The community of faculty and staff that currently use UTORschedule and
UTORmail is expected to grow to 5,000 within the five-year context of
this proposal. The Exchange environment can be made available to all
faculty and staff, subject to the capacity of the servers and storage.
Usage beyond the assumed population of 5,000 may need additional
funding, but scalability is not an issue. Expansion to students could be
contemplated once experience has been gained with the performance and
support costs of Exchange.

Since the costs of maintaining and supporting two calendaring products
would be onerous and unacceptable, a short transition period is
expected, after which the Oracle calendar would cease to be supported.
Faculty and staff that only use UTORmail need not change at all, unless
they wish to avail themselves of the additional functionality and look
and feel of Outlook. Clearly, this proposal has no effect at all on
those that use neither UTORmail nor UTORschedule. Faculty and staff that
use UTORschedule and a departmental email system may continue to use
their departmental email system, but will have to check Outlook for
calendar messages. Users of both UTORmail and UTORschedule must use
Outlook or Outlook Web Access (OWA) to access both. This is how the
promise of seamless integration is best achieved.

Alternative products offering calendar and email integration, such as
Lotus Notes, Groupwise and Oracle~Rs Collaboration Suite have been
considered and found lacking. While they may have similar functionality
to that of Exchange, they do not integrate as well as Exchange with
other standard Microsoft products and have no other presence on campus,
unlike the existing five campus implementations of Exchange. This is an
opportunity to build on existing Exchange expertise on campus and
consolidate the IT environment rather than further fragmenting it. No
open source product offers the functionality and integration desired.

The expected one time only and base costs of implementing this proposal
are $1,631,975 and $190,183 respectively. From a different perspective,
the five year blended total costs would be $2,535,819, which for a user
population of 5,000 yields a per user per year cost of $101. After the
five years, a new infusion of funds would be required to update the
server and storage hardware, but would attract a new three or four year
warranty, reducing maintenance costs. Any growth in the number of users
or storage requirements beyond the proposed quota during the five years
would need additional funding to permit that growth.

What a waste!!!

This proposal will be initially distributed to the present UTORschedule
users for their consideration and they will be invited to ~STown Hall~T
type discussions and demonstrations of the capabilities of the products
being proposed.

Any time I watched anything from M$, I was very happy that I am not using this :-) Few times I was forced to use M$ products and this was a cruel and unusual punishment.

All will be encouraged to provide feedback to the
funding authorities, to permit informed decisions.

How about responding timely to my comments?

Eugene Siciunas, Good decisions come from wisdom,
Director, Wisdom comes from experience,
Computing & Networking Services, Experience comes from bad decisions.
University of Toronto,
255 Huron Street, Suite 350, Hans Christian Andersen
Toronto, M5S 3J1,
P: 416-978-5058, F: 416-971-2085

Microsoft crapware user, he is lamer, he is loser!!!

Victor Ivrii, FRSC, Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto,
40 St.George Str., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E4, Canada
office: ES 4141

(416)978-4031 (of), (416)978-4107 (fax)

WWW home page:

What is AIDS? It is a disease causing affected person to be very vulnerable to viruses. Such disease is known for computers too. Affected computers are very vulnerable to viruses. Such computer disease is called Windows. Yes, that is right! Some part of the enormous wealth Mr. Gates made, developing and spreadsing Computer AIDS, is now given to fight Human Windows.

Posted by Victor at 04:39 AM

November 28, 2006

Poincare conjecture

Разъяренный доктор Яо
Пишет грозный Дадзыбао
"Эта Сильвия Насар
Пусть ответит за базар,

Оскорбления такого
не могу я перенесть,
Крючкотвор наемный Купер
Отомстит за мою честь!

На себя карикатуры
Не желаю я терпеть,
Как арабы на датчанов
Я могу рассвирепеть!

Ганг Тиан, смутьян известный,
Интриган, скорей бы сдох!
Разгоню его студентов,
Словно банду четырех!

Перельман пускай заткнется,
Не получит ни %&@
Мой студент получит Сяо
И собачка Чао-Чао
Так сказал Великий Я!"

Posted by Victor at 01:43 PM

August 26, 2006

Breadth requirements

My son took 3 breadth classes: half year "Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science", half year "Modern Symbolic Logic" and full year "Introduction to Economics". The following observations are the results of my discussions with him and looking through available class materials.

All these classes look like the degraded (lack of tambourines and glass necklaces) and parasitic (clearly overpaid professors and overpriced textbooks) form of classical shamanism.

Posted by Victor at 09:43 PM | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Universities and Maclean's ranking

11 Canadian Universities (University of Toronto including) refused to submit data to Maclean to be ranked. Iniversities are in their rights and Maclean' ranking is senseless. Really, the decent students are going to Universities to get a certain profession or to prepare for graduate studies in the certain profession. The "greate experience" is an asset but it is mainly delivered by departments. The outrageously small number of students voting for different student bodies clearly show where their interests are.

Because of this for mathematical student the quality of Department of English is mostly irrelevant.

However, at most of the Universities the general Admission and Awards offices act exactly as Maclean: they decide if the students fits to enter specific streams on the base of few school marks without consideration if the marks are in the relevant topics (mandatory inclusion of English at University of Toronto, Arts and Science, is an example of this) or if the school teachers are qualified to deliver them.

Posted by Victor at 08:57 AM

August 04, 2006

Sea horses

2 Ass. Professors (where Ass. stays for Assistant but alternative interpretation is also completely appropriate), teaching something about Mid-Eastern history/politics at University of Toronto Mississauga and Scarborough campuses, wrote the article in Toronto Stürmer (aka T-star), full of blantantly false and outrageously insulting claims concerning current Israel-Lebanon conflict. They claim that "Hezbollah and terrorism are manifestations of deeper political injustices" thus blaming the victims for crimes of perpetrators.

I wonder, what these two dirty boldface liars and Hezballah cheerleaders teaching in their classes and getting paid for this?

One can claim that I should avoid insulting my colleagues.

Excuse me, but these scumbags are not my colleagues. My colleagues in Technion and Haifa Universities are under fire of terrorist missiles launched by Hezballah from the territory of Lebanon wit full cooperation of "pro-Western and moderate" government of Lebanon. My junior colleagues in Israel are fulfilling their reserve duties and fighting with Hezballah. My colleagues are the real scientists.

These two guys are ``political scientists''. Political scientists are like sea horses: political for sure, but definitely not scientists. There seem to be no positive knowledge here. At least it is not recognized this way.

One can say that different sciences have different methodologies. It is true, methods of mathematics differ from those of physics, leave alone chemistry, biology, psychology or linguistics. However different the methods of different sciences are, they have one common denminator: honesty and integrity. Which is definitely not the case for political sciences. Otherwise these two Zün-like revisionists of the modern history would not be hired.

And do not tell me that University of Toronto hiring them gave them some kind of legitimacy. Those who hired them acted like a rabbi proclaiming the pork to be kosher: the rabbi would cease to be kosher.

Posted by Victor at 09:27 PM

April 09, 2006

People with two left hands

There are too many of them in this University. For the assistants of the higher administration it looks like a job requirement. Why else they type documents in M$ Word, print them, sign them, scan to PDF (non-OCRd) and put this monstrosities on-line? Can they just print them to PDF? Or if the believe that signatures are that important can they at least OCR them, reducing the size 4 times as a bonus? May be it is really difficult to place the documents in the ADF or on the platen glass properly?

Why my esteemed colleagues need to swich in our data projector Auto Keystone correction off? I doubt they know what keystone correction is but their playfull left hands do it automatically. Why cannot they plug video cable into "Computer 1 In" slot but first plug it to "Computer 2 In" and then try to find how to change the source?

Who needs to print heavily graphics Web document on monochrome laser printer? The output does not look nice (and usually is not taken) while wastes the toner enough to print a large article?

Posted by Victor at 03:49 PM

April 01, 2006

Seminar Announcements

I suggest: in order to increase Colloquium/Seminar funds and improve readability of the seminar titles/abstacts impose a fee for use of TeX/LaTeX in them:

1) ^, _ , { , } = $1 for each instance
2) Any control sequence, defined in LaTeX, amssymb or amsmath = $2 for each instance
3) $ = $3 for each instance
4) Any control sequence, undefined in LaTeX, amssymb or amsmath = $10 for each instance
5) Any other LaTeX error = $5 for each instance

Fees for use of other mark-up languages will be determined later

Posted by Victor at 08:28 AM

March 13, 2006

How I erased Bahen Building from the face of the Earth

No I am not a demolition expert or a terrorist.

But when I decided to put our Department to Google Earth, I gave its real address. At this time there was Bahen building to this address. So, I submitted our Department and began to wait. 1 month later I got a postcard from Google with a pin and confirmed our listing. And waited 1 month more, and our Department appeared on Google Earth, peacefully coexisting with Bahen. However a bit later both listings disappered probably because some bot found that they occupy the same address.

However a couple of days ago Department of Mathematics reappeared (listed now as `Active' rather than `Waiting for the next update' on the Google page for submitters) while Bahen has not (because folks who submitted it never confirmed the listing using the pin received from Google). Too bad for them.

Posted by Victor at 01:59 PM

December 09, 2005

Will computers replace mathematicians?

Few days ago one formal-proofs specialist claimed that in 20 years computers will replace mathematicians?

Well, I heard this 20 years ago... and 30 years ago too... and there was a similar talks about electro-mechanical calculators... and mechanical ones... and abacus...

But it is true that some fields of mathematics were replaced by computers. Probably it will happen with the theory of the formal proofs. So - no need to hire specialists in this field for tenured positions.

Posted by Victor at 04:48 AM

November 06, 2005

Alien or just smoking?

This is an abstract of the Colloquium in our Department. I wonder, if the speaker is an alien or just smoking?

We show how to construct measures on Banach manifolds associated= to supersymmetric quantum field theories. We give three concrete examples of our construction. The first example is a family $\mu_P^{s,t}$ of measures on a space of functions on the two-torus, parametrized by a polynomial $P$ (the Wess-Zumino-Landau-Ginzburg model). The second is a family $\mu_\cG^{s,t}$ of measures on a space $\cG$ of maps from $\P^1$ to a Lie group (the Wess-Zumino-Novikov-Witten model). Finally we study a family $\mu_{M,G}^{s,t}$ of measures on the product of a space of connections on the trivial principal bundle with structure group $G$ on a three-dimensional manifold $M$ with a space of $\fg$-valued three-forms on $M.$ We show that these measures are positive, and that the measures $\mu_\cG^{s,t}$ are Borel probability measures. As an application we show that formulas arising from expectations in the measures $\mu_\cG^{s,1}$ reproduce formulas discovered by Frenkel and Zhu in the theory of vertex operator algebras. We conjecture that a similar computation for the measures $\mu_{M,SU(2)}^{s,t},$ where $M$ is a homology three-sphere, will yield the Casson invariant of $M.$

Posted by Victor at 03:18 PM


To provide our security to our Department the fob access was designed. Certain rooms were supposed to be open with the fobs. Two staircase accesses have fob readers as well as some of elevators.

So far fob access does not work for the Library and Seminar Rooms (first and second type errors). Only one of two staircases accesses work. It is not the fault of fob readers but rather locks. And so far elevator fob readers are no more than a decoration.

No wonder that some faculties and staff developped fobophobia.

Posted by Victor at 06:38 AM

November 05, 2005


Our Department moved into great new location [Well, not everyone moved]. We were supposed to get a bunch of new toys. Partially we did. The rest is coming - with the speed of the dying snail.

One of the most desired items for me was a wireless network and hardware was ordered well in advance but it still arrived late. During this period we were told: 2 weeks more and it should arrive and installation will take 1-2 weeks (because many departments ordered wireless). Finally hardware arrive - something around October 16.

The Great Day came - Late in October access points were installed. Hooray!

Not so fast: it appeared that Network People should install switches in the Data Closet. Surely they could do it while waiting for Access Points but ... they did not .... and we waited until the switches were installed... and finally they came and installed the switches... Hallelujah!!!

Oops! The Wireless People did not connect access points to the network during the installation. So, we are waiting the next visit of them... and hope that Network People did their job in full...

..................................................................................................................................... To be continued

Posted by Victor at 08:09 AM

October 02, 2005

Smart alec

All classes (including graduate ones) at University of Toronto start this year September 12. Or at least supposed too. However while undergraduate classes (and graduate classes cross-listed as undergraduate) are scheduled by administration, graduate classes are scheduled by the instructors - either well in advance or during the organizational meeting.

At some moment I discovered that the instructor of one of the classes scheduled it at the same time as my class and there are students affected by this conflict. I say: discovered because scheduling the course (which happened September 12 at least 3 weeks after timetable of my class was announced) instructor neglected to advise in timely manner to our graduate secretary. True, this class is offered at Fields institute but if this course is a credit course for our graduate studies, the standard procedure should be used (and by no means class should actually start with 2 weeks delay).

In the situation of the conflict the onus to avoid it is on the instructor who scheduled later but when I contacted this young fellow, he responded instantly that he cannot. Instant response means that he actually did not attempt to resolve this conflict.

In the end in order to avoid conflict I managed to reschedule my class (spending a lot of time for this).

Posted by Victor at 06:16 AM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2005

Contingency plan

- Sir, our ship is sinking. Do we have a contingency plan?
- Sure, we do... (yells) Save yourself!!!

This is exactly what is going on with the (possible) strike of the staff.

From office of vice-president:

September 11, 2005 3:34 p.m.

In terms of the commencement of classes, please note that certain classroom support may be limited. While there will be AV support to key areas (e.g., Con Hall and MSB), there will only be moderate support for most classrooms. If AV equipment is not already part of the classroom, it is unlikely that it can be delivered. Faculty should prepare lectures that do not rely on the use of AV equipment wherever necessary.

The person who wrote this should be aware that the quality 1-hour lecture with data-projector requires at least 10 hours of the preparation for professor experienced in this staff (and much more for the newbie) and tell at 3:34 p.m. Sunday (provided professor looked at the University website at this time, which is not very likely since there was no email notification about possible strike sent in advance) that 10 hours of preparation have gone to drain and professor should prepare a new lecture with chalk and blackboard is exactly equivalent to "Save yourself!"

When the Professional Union of the Smart Neurons of my brain will go to strike and only members of the Professional Union of the Dumb Neurons will report to the job - I will be fit to work in VP office :-)

Posted by Victor at 04:31 AM | Comments (1)

August 05, 2005

Wrong business

Looking carefully at departmental web pages of any department of our university, one can notice that all of them have poor functionality: no searches at all (may be I missed some department pages?). All departmental listings are static, which means that they are difficult to maintain (nothing wrong with static directories if they are dynamically generated; but search results pages must be dynamic). Hopefully our Department will be an exception soon.

Furthemore, the same is true for course calendars and timetables. The timetable of Arts and Science is a real embarassment: many instructor names and locations remain tba even well after classes started and even ended.

All this can be avoided with the dynamic web pages (or static pages if they are just dynamic pages saved). Little PHP and MySQL scripting will make it.

If one tries to install a really complicated staff (like bulletin boards) based on PHP and mySQL to our Department web server, one can find a funny behavior: from little nuissance to essential bugs even if our PHP and mySQL software is above the minimal requirements (but still very old). Probably there are errors in installation/configuration. Does it mean that our Department web server is bad?

Well, it is definitely way below of a reputable commercial hosting (like this one) but surely way better than the most if not all departemental servers at University of Toronto (how many of them have PHP/mySQL installed at all? Our Department web server has the highest at University uptime). I am not going to blame our system administrators: there are only 1.5 of them and they maintain a lot of crucial software. Web server is not crucial and the fancy additions to it are just marginal for us.

On the other hand, even if the crew of the commercial web hosting is small (this one, seems to have a very small crew) this crew is completely devoted to the web hosting and it is not much more difficult to run 100 servers (if they are very similar) than one. I gonna bet that their staff has no clue about TeX, Mathematica, Maple, ... all things which our administrators should maintain.

Does all this mean that the departemental web sites are doomed to be inferior in comparison to [well made] sites using commercial hosting? Not at all. But then web hosting should be the duty of the specialized university service while departments would run their sites on dedicated or shared university servers. Futhermore, listing, searches etc should be the duty of the same University team while departemental secretaries would just feed data to the databases and departemental amateur webmasters would just change an appearance.

This would be a correct solution. Right now departments and faculties are just in the wrong business of webhosting.

Posted by Victor at 10:18 AM

July 25, 2005

Completely secure

Some time ago different lawyers workin for US government made the same mistake: they prepared document using M$ Word, then they covered confidential part of it by black boxes (as they were probably taught in the law schools) but instead of printing on paper, they printed documents to pdf, producing this or similar files and placing them on internet, without understanding that simple copy-paste reveals the hidden.

No, great minds from our University do not produce any partially classified documents. But they use really fool proof scheme: they print documents in M$ Word, then print on the paper, then scan to pdf files (without running OCR) and send the purely graphical files by email.

Posted by Victor at 09:07 PM

Great Ideas

I am professor of Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto, which motto is "Greate Minds for a Great University". Unfortunately sometimes the greatness of the people who run this great universty is so great, that the lesser minds of the professors cannot properly understand some of their greatest ideas. This blog category will be devoted to this type of the great ideas, mainly in computer organization.

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. - Rich Cook

Posted by Victor at 01:54 PM