# AIM workshops

1. Top Mathematician
gkte

How do they work? Asking from all perspectives:

1. What is it like as a participant?

2. What is it like as an organizer? What does the process of organizing look like?

3. What does it look like from AIM's perspective? From the staff's perspective?

4. How does the scientific board decide which workshops to fund? Do meetings of the scientific board also work like hiring committees (in the type of things people say to get their pet workshops funded)? Or are they closer to the platonic ideal of actual deciding things on the basis of what "furthers mathematics"?

5. Is there such a thing as attending "too many" AIM workshops? Are they looked down upon because they often result in multi-author papers where it's clear one or two authors did the bulk of the work and ideation?

1 weekgkte
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2. Top Mathematician
cusf
1. What is it like as a participant?

You are forcefully shuffled into a group of 5-6 to work on a problem you don't care about.

1. What is it like as an organizer? What does the process of organizing look like?

You select the people you want to invite, write an abstract, that's about it.

1. What does it look like from AIM's perspective? From the staff's perspective?

Farmer's flies in from wherever he lives at in the East Coast, Brian Conrey arrives in his caddilac, the staff opens their binders, etc.

1. Is there such a thing as attending "too many" AIM workshops? Are they looked down upon because they often result in multi-author papers where it's clear one or two authors did the bulk of the work and ideation?

They are not looked down upon as far as I'm aware but the model of the workshop is surprisingly not extremely conductive to collaboration. I think the success of a workshop mostly depend on a critical mass of participants willing to share good problems. I've been to several workshops where nobody wants to share the good problems that they thought about and as a result everybody spends a week working on problems that nobody is interested in. So if you are willing to give it a serious go and propose a serious problem that you thought about then you might get something out of this workshop. This is perhaps the best use you can make of it.

1 weekcusf
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3. Top Mathematician

Farmer's flies in from wherever he lives at in the East Coast, Brian Conrey arrives in his caddilac, the staff opens their binders, etc.

Farmer flies in for every workshop?! Don't they have a workshop every other week?

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4. Top Mathematician
czcb

Farmer's flies in from wherever he lives at in the East Coast, Brian Conrey arrives in his caddilac, the staff opens their binders, etc.

Farmer flies in for every workshop?! Don't they have a workshop every other week?

Some people just want to see the world burn.

1 weekczcb
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5. Top Mathematician
ywvx

Every other NSF-funded institutes the director and deputy directors are fixed-term, even IAS. Only exception is AIM, Conrey and Farmer have been there since its founding in 1994, collecting a 200k paycheck (maybe 300k now) every year. When Fry was paying for it that’s none of our business, but since they started to take money from NSF and especially now that Fry is no longer a benefactor I think people should start asking questions. Who gave Conrey and Farmer tenure at AIM?

1 weekywvx
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6. Top Mathematician
wcqy

Every other NSF-funded institutes the director and deputy directors are fixed-term, even IAS. Only exception is AIM, Conrey and Farmer have been there since its founding in 1994, collecting a 200k paycheck (maybe 300k now) every year. When Fry was paying for it that’s none of our business, but since they started to take money from NSF and especially now that Fry is no longer a benefactor I think people should start asking questions. Who gave Conrey and Farmer tenure at AIM?

Do you understand what A stands for in AIM? America. Do you understand that in America you can start your own business and employ yourself for as long as you wish? They can show the NSF money back into the government's fat ass.

1 weekwcqy
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7. Top Mathematician
jxvm

Every other NSF-funded institutes the director and deputy directors are fixed-term, even IAS. Only exception is AIM, Conrey and Farmer have been there since its founding in 1994, collecting a 200k paycheck (maybe 300k now) every year. When Fry was paying for it that’s none of our business, but since they started to take money from NSF and especially now that Fry is no longer a benefactor I think people should start asking questions. Who gave Conrey and Farmer tenure at AIM?

Fry’s foundation still contributes to the institute.

1 weekjxvm
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8. Top Mathematician
xfxl

Who gave Conrey and Farmer tenure at AIM?

Word on the street is that there will be management changes around the same time as the move to Caltech.

How do you folks think the move to Caltech will affect the culture of AIM? Will it get snootier by association? Or will the positive culture of AIM instead make the Caltech math department less of a drag?

1 weekxfxl
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9. Top Mathematician
lhvo

Folks who have organized workshops before: how do you fill the spots that are decided via application rather than invitation? Are there usually more applications than spots?

1 weeklhvo
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10. Top Mathematician
efvq

How do you folks think the move to Caltech will affect the culture of AIM? Will it get snootier by association? Or will the positive culture of AIM instead make the Caltech math department less of a drag?

It’d only be as snooty as its director. Conrey had a Stanford courtesy appointment when AIM was in Palo Alto. But when AIM moved to San Jose he didn’t take a courtesy appointment with SJSU.

1 weekefvq
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11. Top Mathematician
fmdt

How do you folks think the move to Caltech will affect the culture of AIM? Will it get snootier by association? Or will the positive culture of AIM instead make the Caltech math department less of a drag?

It’d only be as snooty as its director. Conrey had a Stanford courtesy appointment when AIM was in Palo Alto. But when AIM moved to San Jose he didn’t take a courtesy appointment with SJSU.

Have you ever spoken to Conrey? He's definitely one of the least snooty senior mathematicians I've ever met, at least when it comes to mathematics.

1 weekfmdt
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12. Top Mathematician
efvq

Disclaimer: I had a huge fight during my workshop with Farmer because he wanted to micromanage the technical program, limiting the number of talks in favor of stupid breakup sessions. Conrey just backed up his student without bothering to hear our side of the argument.

1 weekefvq
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13. Top Mathematician
efvq

former student

1 weekefvq
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14. Top Mathematician
vptj
1. What is it like as a participant?

You are forcefully shuffled into a group of 5-6 to work on a problem you don't care about.

1. What is it like as an organizer? What does the process of organizing look like?

You select the people you want to invite, write an abstract, that's about it.

1. What does it look like from AIM's perspective? From the staff's perspective?

Farmer's flies in from wherever he lives at in the East Coast, Brian Conrey arrives in his caddilac, the staff opens their binders, etc.

1. Is there such a thing as attending "too many" AIM workshops? Are they looked down upon because they often result in multi-author papers where it's clear one or two authors did the bulk of the work and ideation?

They are not looked down upon as far as I'm aware but the model of the workshop is surprisingly not extremely conductive to collaboration. I think the success of a workshop mostly depend on a critical mass of participants willing to share good problems. I've been to several workshops where nobody wants to share the good problems that they thought about and as a result everybody spends a week working on problems that nobody is interested in. So if you are willing to give it a serious go and propose a serious problem that you thought about then you might get something out of this workshop. This is perhaps the best use you can make of it.

I agree with much of this, including the images of Conrey and Farmer. They are practically caricatures.

On 5), the response is strictly true to some degree. But there is certainly a perception of them that is not positive. Many of the resulting papers are uninspired work on problems that no one, not even the authors, care about. That often shows all too clearly in the papers.

1 weekvptj
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15. Top Mathematician
rpmr
[...]

You are forcefully shuffled into a group of 5-6 to work on a problem you don't care about.

[...]

You select the people you want to invite, write an abstract, that's about it.

[...]

Farmer's flies in from wherever he lives at in the East Coast, Brian Conrey arrives in his caddilac, the staff opens their binders, etc.

[...]

They are not looked down upon as far as I'm aware but the model of the workshop is surprisingly not extremely conductive to collaboration. I think the success of a workshop mostly depend on a critical mass of participants willing to share good problems. I've been to several workshops where nobody wants to share the good problems that they thought about and as a result everybody spends a week working on problems that nobody is interested in. So if you are willing to give it a serious go and propose a serious problem that you thought about then you might get something out of this workshop. This is perhaps the best use you can make of it.

I agree with much of this, including the images of Conrey and Farmer. They are practically caricatures.

On 5), the response is strictly true to some degree. But there is certainly a perception of them that is not positive. Many of the resulting papers are uninspired work on problems that no one, not even the authors, care about. That often shows all too clearly in the papers.

The problem is that the motivation of each author drops exponentially with the number $x$ of authors like ${e}^{-x/m}$ where $m$ is the so-called motivation constant. It follows that the optimal number of coauthors is the $x$ that maximizes $x{e}^{-x/m}$ that is $m$.

1 weekrpmr
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16. Top Mathematician
rpmr
[...]

I agree with much of this, including the images of Conrey and Farmer. They are practically caricatures.

On 5), the response is strictly true to some degree. But there is certainly a perception of them that is not positive. Many of the resulting papers are uninspired work on problems that no one, not even the authors, care about. That often shows all too clearly in the papers.

The problem is that the motivation of each author drops exponentially with the number $x$ of authors like ${e}^{-x/m}$ where $m$ is the so-called motivation constant. It follows that the optimal number of coauthors is the $x$ that maximizes $x{e}^{-x/m}$ that is $m$.

Experimentally I believe $m$ to be three

1 weekrpmr
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17. Top Mathematician
xqil

Disclaimer: I had a huge fight during my workshop with Farmer because he wanted to micromanage the technical program, limiting the number of talks in favor of stupid breakup sessions. Conrey just backed up his student without bothering to hear our side of the argument.

That's fair. DF seems like an opinionated person. Given their professional relationship, both past and present, I'm not surprised JBC just blindly trusted him.

I'm sorry to hear that you had a negative experience.

1 weekxqil
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18. Top Mathematician
dwbm

It seems no one addressed the question about the scientific board. Are none of the bigshots willing to spill the tea?

How do they work? Asking from all perspectives:

1. What is it like as a participant?

2. What is it like as an organizer? What does the process of organizing look like?

3. What does it look like from AIM's perspective? From the staff's perspective?

4. How does the scientific board decide which workshops to fund? Do meetings of the scientific board also work like hiring committees (in the type of things people say to get their pet workshops funded)? Or are they closer to the platonic ideal of actual deciding things on the basis of what "furthers mathematics"?

5. Is there such a thing as attending "too many" AIM workshops? Are they looked down upon because they often result in multi-author papers where it's clear one or two authors did the bulk of the work and ideation?

5 daysdwbm
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