Happenings – 2010 Aug 7

Okay, the introductory quaternions post went out last Monday. This weekend I expect to write about all four representations of three-dimensional rotations: rotation matrices, angle & axis of rotation, quaternions, and Euler angle decompositions.

I wasn’t sure last weekend what I would do besides quaternions… it turned out to be a control systems simulation. Nothing fancy… okay, it was a fairly complicated “plant” being hit with a rectangular wave (bang-bang). I was just trying to duplicate something in a book. The challenge was that the book (Ellis) expected me to be using its companion software on a pre-defined “experiment”… and did not provide all the parameters for an independent simulation.

It was nice to see that I could do it with Mathematica®.

Nevertheless, my mathematical life appears to have gotten more complicated.

I was chatting with a physicist friend of mine, and I told him that the Yang-Mills equations that give us quarks are equivalent to the study of connections on fiber bundles. What I probably should have said was (from my own post of Feb 28, 2009):

“It was not until the early 1970s, however, that dawn broke and,
in the clear light of day, it was recognized that a gauge field
in the sense of the physicists is essentially nothing other than
the curvature of a connection on some fiber bundle.”
(p. vii, Naber, Gregory L.; Topology, Geometry, and Gauge Fields: Foundations. Springer,1997. ISBN 0 387 94946 1.)

And from July 11, 2009: … fiber bundles. They generalize the tangent bundle, which is the set of all tangent spaces to a manifold. What you should visualize is a circle with a whole lot of tangent lines drawn on it. And if you draw enough of them, you can dispense with the circle itself, which suggests that we can study a manifold by studying associated fiber bundles.

But I couldn’t do much more than talk about a cylinder and a Mobius strip, and the tangent bundle, as examples of fiber bundles. And my conversation was limited as much by my lack of mathematics as by his.

Now, once again, I feel an overwhelming urge to curl up with my graduate differential geometry texts and study fiber bundles. (It turns out that the text for the graduate course I took did in fact mention bundles for about 4 pages… but the professor wasn’t actually using that book at all, so I never saw them.)

I know perfectly well, however, that this will take a while. In fact, it will take way longer than I want it to… but there’s not much help for that: it will take however long it takes. Realistically, I’ll probably play with them for a while, learn something, and put them down….

And in the meantime I will keep working on Boolean equations, and elementary classical control theory, and everything else that I get distracted by. And, as you may have noticed, I am easily distracted by applications of mathematics.

So don’t despair… I’m not likely to get very far from applied mathematics, and not for long even when I do.

Now what? Rotations… fiber bundles… elementary control theory… Boolean equations…. I don’t know which one to pick up first.

Posted in diary. 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Happenings – 2010 Aug 7”

  1. Sper Says:

    “Nevertheless, my mathematical life appears to have gotten more complicated.”

    Which is a good thing, essentially, isn’t it? Here’s my view on things:

    Simple = boring, routine
    Complicated = exciting and challenging

    Thanks for sharing your “complicated”!


  2. rip Says:

    Hi Sper,

    I’m glad to see you’re keeping tabs on my blog, even though I couldn’t help you with your wavelets question.


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