How to Get an Arxiv Endorsement

When people find out that I post papers in Arxiv, I always get asked how I got an endorsement. I get the impression that people are either (1) not confident enough about their work and think that nobody will endorse them or (2) they don’t know how where to get an endorser. As to (1), you don’t need to come up with a revolutionary paper to get an endorsement. You only need to pass Arxiv’s modest standards, which means that your paper contains decent mathematics and not a purported proof to a long-standing open problem. In other words, you only need to show that you’re not a crackpot. As to (2), getting an endorser is easy – here’s how.

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2015 MSP Annual Convention

MSP 2015

Conference photo. Taken from https://www.facebook.com/MathSocPhil

Recently, I attended the annual convention of the Mathematical Society of the Philippines in Laoag City and thankfully, I do not regret having done so. I initially had second thoughts about attending because (1) I am not presently connected with any university so I have to shoulder all expenses on my own and (2) I’ve long called off going to conferences where talks cover a wide range of topics because I usually spend most of the time sitting in lectures where I have no idea what the speakers are talking about. As to (1), fortunately enough I ended up spending only P7000, which the P3500 registration fee, the P1500 round trip bus fare from Manila to Laoag and the remaining P2000 which I spent for meals outside the conference, lodging and bus and trike fares to tourist destinations. As to (2), I can definitely say that I got more from both the plenary and parallel sessions than when I first attended MSP way back in 2010 when I was a fresh graduate. In addition, meeting peers of my age and knowing that they are actively doing research has given me a much needed boost to continue doing my own work. Continue reading

Should we stop teaching PEMDAS?

A segment from ABS-CBN’s noontime show “It’s Showtime” has been creating a buzz lately. In the segment “Isang Tanong, Isang Milyon”, the hosts asks a contestant to evaluate the expression “1000 – 500 x 2”. The contestant answers “1000” and wins the round. Netizens, however, cry that the answer is wrong because of that thing called PEMDAS. In fact, the comments in this page reveals that netizens do not only think that the PEMDAS should have been applied, but also that anyone who argues that the answer is 0 is an idiot who was probably sleeping during math class when PEMDAS was taught. Reading the commentsmade me realize that PEMDAS has become a sort of infallible doctrine. Is Showtime wrong in giving 1000 as the right answer? Well, as far the “status quo” is concerned (i.e., of PEMDAS being the golden rule that must not be broken), “1000 – 500 x 2” equals “0”. That’s loud and clear, and there shouldn’t really be any debate about it . That’s what we Filipinos know and accept. Hence, the contestant should have lost the round. Continue reading

How to Install LaTeX and Beamer

The following options will work for Windows 8.

1. First, you need to download the MiKTeX installer here. If you choose to download the entire 158 MB installation package, then all you have to do is to run the .exe file, but this is not advisable if you don’t have a reliable connection. If at any point during the downloading process something goes wrong with your connection, you will end up with a corrupt file and have to start download all over again. I recommend downloading the Net Installer, and let it download the components of the MiKTeX installer. When installing MiKTeX, choose “Yes” when asked “Install missing packages on the fly”.

If you already have MiKTeX and are not sure if the “Install missing packages on the fly” options is chosen, open the Settings (Admin) program that comes with MiKTeX and open the General tab.

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2. Next, you will need a typesetting environment. You can either use TeXWorks which comes with MiKTeX or you can install TeXNicCenter. Create a new file and paste the following:

\documentclass{beamer}
\begin{document}
\end{document}

When you compile this file, MiKTex will be prompted that the Beamer package is missing and needs to be installed.

3. The “Install missing packages on the fly” is not foolproof. It is particularly unreliable if you are using campus internet with fancy proxy and account verification settings. To configure you connection settings, use the “Update MiKTeX (admin)” program.

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Next, you will have to install Beamer and ALL its dependencies using the “Package Manager (Admin)” program. Look for the word “beamer” under the “Name” list and click it then hit the “+” icon. I don’t have a list of the dependencies, but a Google search shows that Beamer needs pgf and latex-color. Of course, you also need to install the dependencies of the dependencies (and so forth). The log file or the Build Output window of TexNic Center will tell you if a package for a dependency is missing. Just continue running the sample tex file above until all necessary packages have been downloaded. You may end up downloading 10 or more packages, especially if your MikTex is newly-installed. Be patient.

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4. If all else fails, you may need to install Beamer manually (ouch!). The following is a suggestion from Tex StackExchange user Alessandro Jacopson.

You can set up a local packages repository on your computer.

You need an internet access to download the MikTex packages.

My problem is that I can’t succeed in setting up the internet proxy setup of MikTex in my system, so I have tried today the following solution with MikTex 2.9 and it worked with no problems; the on-the-fly package installation worked well too.

  1. Create the folder, for example c:\miktex_pkgs
  2. Copy the following file to the folder c:\miktex_pkgs (If you do not copy the files you will probably get some errors from MikTex. Seehttp://bruceyf.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/miktexs-secret-local-package-repository/ for the details):http://mirrors.ctan.org/systems/win32/miktex/tm/packages/README.TXThttp://mirrors.ctan.org/systems/win32/miktex/tm/packages/miktex-zzdb1-2.9.tar.lzma

    http://mirrors.ctan.org/systems/win32/miktex/tm/packages/miktex-zzdb2-2.9.tar.lzma

  3. You can copy any packages you may need from http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/systems/win32/miktex/tm/packages to your local folder c:\miktex_pkgs
  4. At this point you have two options.
    • Update your MikTex system: from the Windows Start menu -> Programs -> Miktex 2.9 -> Maintenance (Admin) -> launch the program “Settings (Admin)”Go to the tab “Package repository” and choose the folder c:\miktex_pkgsInstall packages…
    • Open a command prompt and navigate to c:\miktex_pkgsUse mpm.exe --install {name} to install packages. The {name} does not include any of the extensions (.cab, .tar.lzma, .tar.bz2, etc.).

Installing Beamer can be tricky and if you read the comments below, many users run into all sorts of problems. Good luck!