Presentation

Want to know who I am ? No problem.

My name’s Johann. Nice to meet you.
I studied mathematics at Claude Bernard university in Lyon, France, and now they won’t leave me alone. But I don’t work in the field, I’m an entrepreneur in the Web business.Why ? Where to begin…

  • First of all, I would have made a crappy teacher. The rigidity of school programs and textbooks that’s not my thing. I always liked to learn only what I wanted, in my own way, and I hate learning by heart. Since I don’t like to make others do what I don’t like to do myself, I wouldn’t be a good soldier. Figuratively and literally. Maybe that’s best for the poor students who would have been in my care ! There are great people way better at this than I am, I’m sure. I know a few of them.
    Teaching may be one of the most beautiful jobs on earth, but the school system in France… Meh.
    I wouldn’t have been competent enough to pass the civil service competitive examinations required to teach here anyway (particularly the oral part where you have to think on your feet while plundered with tough questions by a highly more competent jury than is confortable – that’s the point, but I suck at this).
    I still give occasionnal one-to-one courses, mainly to work with kids who need to see that “being wrong is not the absolute evil”, that math are useful and not that hard when it becomes interesting.
  • Reasearch could have been my thing, but I’m a member of the clan “I understand quickly, but only when explained at length”, and I’m the stubborn type. So I can’t measure to the competition. Because yes, to do research in math you have to either be a genius completely cut off from reality, or have exemplary school records which is more akin to regurgitating textbooks by heart than really thinking and be creative… And I’m neither autistic nor a robot.

So I prefer to have a job that I like with the freedom I couldn’t live without (when you’re your own boss, he can’t refuse a justified augmentation ^^).
And I occasionaly blog. That’s the perfect way to appreciate sciences without the hassle, and one really understands a concept only when he can explain it clearly, so it’s also a way to learn.

A few words on my strong and weak points (don’t take it too seriously) :

60%

Mathematics

Of course, after 5 years of study, one starts to know a thing or two in a particular field (nowhere exhaustive, but enough to ``really get started`` I'd say)... My thing is algebra. But I don't mean abstract algebra, because two-sided ideals are only fun for about 5 minutes, then how do you visualize that thing ? No, what I like is algebra's relations to geometry. And analysis. And arithmetics. And... well I won't list everything, my point is it's a central component of mathematics. That said, we all have our own style of doing math :

Intuitive reasonning

80%At the same time my forte and my biggest achilles' heel... To have an intuitive approach to mathematics is good, it's useful, but it can be costly !
It's useful to ``see things coming``, ``visualize what's happening`` or just take a step back and admire the landscape, but it took me some time to realize that visual representations and ``gut feelings`` don't play nice with rigour. It's a constant fight not to fall in traps and bad shorcuts because something feels ``obvious`` ou aesthetically pleasing (usually some kind of symetry)...

Logic

70%Ah... Logic. So efficient, so reassuring. Never tell me that you ``have no logic`` because it's a preconceived idea that makes me mad. Do you often try to cut your steak with a spoon ? No ? So don't tell me you ``have no logic`` ! Logic is probably the heart of mathematics. It helps us go forward, trace our steps back, find our reasonning's missteps, and she helps calm down Mrs Intuition who has a quick temper and sometimes brings us close to irrationality.

Calculus

20%Ugh... Why do we need to do so much calculations in math ? Seriously ! (of course it's a rethorical question, I'm not that dumb) Probably the least exhilarating part of mathematics (but otherwise a little bit useful^^). I suck at calculus. I'm probably too lazy to have trained properly, but I also have a very capricious memory (ain't that a good excuse ?).
Anyway, calculus is good, but only when there isn't too much of it. Or when it's low-risk : ever went through pages of calculations before finding a mistake at the very beginning ? Yeah... Story of my life ! At least it taught me to never forget to simplify beforehand ;-)

Philosophy

90%What is this doing here ? Well it's simple : one doesn't like math because it's useful or because he likes calculus (Eww, who does ? I pity them). For me, it's their signification. There is beauty in the fact that IT WORKS ! It's like an extension of our thoughts, made coherent and reliable. And pushed far, very far. So far that the most advanced mathematical concepts are so different than the usual rules of logic that it's baffling. And it still works. And we use them to understand the world better. Isn't that fascinating ?

30%

Physics

That's not the field that I studied, so I'm obviously not much knowledgable in it. Experimental physics ? Failure. Oh the optics experiments we made in school... It still hurts where the light doesn't shine. Theoretical physics, on the other hand... Well not really, I was always thrown off by the million dimensions used for a single quantity. Guys, get your shit together ! (I guess that's what the metric system's for, but still... Dimensional analysis ? Yuck) That said, it's fascinating to see a physical theory make extensive use of math to express the laws of nature ! Beautiful !

10%

Humour

Calculus is boring as sh**, we can all agree on that. Shut-up, I said you agree. So why not take it with a bit of humour ? Admittedly I'm not that funny, but if I can at the very least put a smile on your face while you read my stuff, I'd be a happy camper. And if you don't find me funny, go do some calculations !