庞加莱猜想(Poincare conjecture)-关于田刚丘成桐事件

最近丘成桐先生宣布在美、俄等国科学家的工作基础上,中山大学朱熹平教授和旅美数学家、清华大学兼职教授曹怀东彻底证明了庞加莱猜想。(见Chinese mathematicians put final pieces in global puzzle – Poincare conjecture

这一消息在很多中文论坛上都引起了的广泛的讨论,而在万维网上的教育与学术论坛上引起激烈的争论。

关于这个证明的正确与否有些人认为丘先生说的不能算。庞加莱猜想是个世界性的数学难题,世界上还有很多的研究小组在做。朱教授与曹教授的这个证明正确、完整与否都会有个定论的,只是时间问题而已。但这个定论绝对不是能在这些网上如此争论可以得出来的。

这些争论的另一焦点是朱教授与曹教授在这个证明上到底有多少贡献。这个问题也许不是时间能解决的。看看微积分这个数学方法,几百年了,还有人在争论到底是牛顿还是莱布尼兹的贡献大。但无论如何只要朱教授与曹教授的这个证明是正确、完整的,那就是对解决庞加莱猜想这个千年难题有贡献。

其实这些争论在很大程度上是田刚丘成桐事件(有人称为丘-田之争)的延续。

田刚丘成桐事件涉及到关于学术风气,选中国院士,长江特聘教授,大学科研经费的申请等等很多热点问题,而且这事件中的学校很多是中国甚至世界顶尖的学府,当中的人物很多都是成名的数学家。

以下关于这个事件的概要是从Wikipedia.org上找到的。我希望能用一、两个星期的时间补充一些细节及资料。

Continue reading 庞加莱猜想(Poincare conjecture)-关于田刚丘成桐事件

Singapore – the most Podcast aware nation?

Search “Podcast” on Google Trends, and click the Regions tab you will get the following diagram,

Singapore-podcast.gif
Singapore tops the list.

That means, out of all the search on google, Singapore has higher percentage of Podcast search than the United States, a country where the Podcast was born.

Does that mean Singapornean are more aware of Podcast? It could be.

But there are some factors besides listenership may affect the list.

  1. Listeners use other search engines to look for Podcast. For example, users in the States may prefer iTunes or Yahoo than Google as the Podcast search platform.
  2. Users in other countries search so many other topics that dilute the Podcast search.

Google Trends is a very interesting tool to know the users’ behavior on internet.

Search “China”, you will find Singapore is just behind Hong Kong.

Singapore-China.gif

That means many Singapornean are interested in China, which is not a surprise as Chinese is Singapore’s majority.

But when I search “Asian babe”, Singapore is in the second place too!

Singapore-AsianBabe.gif

“Asian babe” is a term used in porn graphics search. Does that mean Singapornean are hypocrites and sex maniac? It could be. 🙂

But when I search “Play boy”, South America countries occupy the top 10 list.

Singapore-Playboy.gif

One possible explaination: different countries use different terms to search porn pictures.

Movie review: 12 Weeks With Geeks

It is a documentary about a software project development. Four interns worked in the Fog Creek Software for the Copilot project. They worked for 3 months and delivered the first version of the application.

I learnt about Fog Creek Software from the book and the blog Joel On Software. The book gives some very interesting and enlightening explanations on software engineering and project management.

I expected that I could find out from this movie in details how Joel led a team to develop software, web application particularly. I’d thought this movie would show me something like collecting user specifications, making plan, working on code, fixing bugs and so on. But the movie actually is about the life and thoughts of the developers. You can not learn project management skills from this movie. Rather, it is about what makes a dream office, team, or life to geeks, the software developers here.

Though they kept saying they have to work over night, long hours, they all looked very happy and satisfied. They had very nice workstations, though lack of privacy, and comfortable dorms. They grew tomato, went jogging, and had parties. They made fun out of samll or senseless things in life. For example, they tried hard to figure out whether they could escape the building by jumping to the next block in case of fire.

The movie gives me some senses of how the start-up gets started in the US too. But it does not go deep into that. It does not show how and where you can get funds or what you should do after complete the development.

Overall, it is an interesting movie. I would suggest the viewers to read the Joel On Software before or after the movie.

The driving force (for the hackers) is usually a combination of the desire to get rich, the desire for power, and the desire to sort of make something. And they (are) kind of overlap. – from the movie.

Automate Language Translation

美国之音3月24号的Talk To America的节目介绍了一种新的翻译技术。跟其它的自动翻译有点不同,这种技术除了翻译普通的语言外,它还尝试翻译非语音的交流(Non-spoken Language)。这种非语音的交流包括身体语言(Body Language)与表情(Expressions)等。

咋一听起来有点玄。其实我们平时在网上用QQ,ICQ,MSN聊天的时候都有尝试做类似的事情。我们会用一些特殊的符号如 🙂 :p 等等去表答我们的情绪。这种新技术就是想通过记录人的神经信号去“翻译”人的情绪。

我想,如果这种技术能成功应用的话,那么人类日常交流就会有很大的变化。如今,逢场做戏都成了现代中国人必要的生存技能了。见人说人话,见鬼说鬼话,反正就不要说真话。但有了一个“情绪翻译机”情况就会不同。似想想,每个人随身都带着一个象“测谎仪”的东西来翻译别人的内心的想法,也许大家都会变得真诚一些吧。不过那样的话,世界又变得太单调,没那么有趣了。:-)

节目里有个教授还提到翻译的问题。他认为,翻译不仅仅是语言问题。语言和文化是不可分割的。如果要做到真正好的翻译,那么就必须对双方的文化都有很深的了解。换句话说来就是,要学好英语首先要对英语文化有所了解。

我的情况刚好相反。我是想要了解他们文化,所以我才花心思去学英语的。希望是殊道同归吧。

另外这个教授介绍了一种练习同步传译的方法。

  1. 录下一段外语节目,比如说CNN的外语新闻。
  2. 根据所录的节目录下自己做的同步传译。
  3. 同朋友一起复习检查自己做的传译。

随着全球化的深入,同步传译的需求一定会极大的提高。希望这个方法对有志做同步传译的朋友有用吧。
对这期节目有兴趣的朋友可以在以下的链接下载mp3文件。
Download the mp3 file of this program here.