I spent three weeks in March in Vietnam, visiting several universities and getting to know a number of mathematicians. The first week was spent at an International Conference on High Performance Scientific Computing in Hanoi. This was the sixth conference in a series that started in 2000 and has been held every three years since. Organized in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg, it attracted many researchers from Germany, but also from many other countries and featured a number of excellent talks by local researchers as well as many high profile invited speakers. I spoke in a minisymposium organized by Rolf Jeltsch, an old friend and former colleague at ETH-Zurich.
Ha Long Bay
The weekend after the conference there was an organized weekend trip to Ha Long Bay, a 3-hour bus ride from Hanoi. The bay is full of magnificent karst formations and the islands have extensive limestone caves that are also amazing.
With Hieu (red jacket) and his class
The second week I spent at Vietnam National University in Hanoi where, in addition to a seminar talk on tsunami modeling, I also gave about 13 hours of guest lectures in a course on Finite Difference Methods for Ordinary and Partial Differential being taught by Nguyen Trung Hieu. Somehow the students survived and were even smiling at the end.
The University of Washington has close ties with this university thanks to a grant from the Vietnamese government supporting interchanges, and I’m the fourth member of my department to visit the university in Hanoi. About 10 members of the Mathematics faculty in Hanoi have also visited UW for several months at a time, to sit in on classes and engage in research. In fact two weeks after leaving Hanoi I ran into two professors and a graduate student from this department on my flight from Seoul to Seattle.
After two weeks in Hanoi and a brief visit to Hue, I spent another week in Ho Chi Minh City and gave a talk at the University of Science, another branch of the extensive Vietnam National University. I also spent some time with Mai Duc Thanh from the International University, a student of Philippe LeFloch’s who works on hyperbolic problems, including shallow water equations over bathymetry.
In the photo he’s sitting by the Saigon River, which we were watching flow with a strong current upstream due to the tide, even 60 km from its outlet in the South China Sea. The entire Mekong Delta region is so flat that flooding is a major problem and storm surge modeling is of great interest. Tsunamis are also a potential hazard, although there hasn’t been a major one recently on this coast.
I have prepared a draft of an article on reproducible research methods that I was invited to contribute to the Encyclopedia of Applied and Computational Mathematics to be published by Springer. [Update: I just checked with Springer and the $5000 price quoted is not a typo. Needless to say I'm not happy about this! I'm looking into it further.] [Further update on 29 Feb 2012: I've been told that the price on that webpage was a mistake and it's a mystery how it got in the database. That was last week and it's still there...]
I welcome comments on this draft, either sent by email or posted below. Note that this article was greatly constrained in size (it may be too long already) and so I was very selective in what to include, but if you think I’ve neglected something important I will consider it.
I have avoided mentioning specific tools (other than some version control
systems) since there are a so many out there it would be hard to choose
which to point out, and hard to know which will stand the test of time.
I have included only two references, selected primarily as sources of other links.
David Ketcheson just sent this mail to the SIAM Computational Science and Engineering Activity Group (SIAG/CSE) mailing list. I saw an earlier post of his on NA-Digest, but now that I have some time I’ve finally taken a look at it. I think it will be a valuable forum for discussing questions of interest in our community!
There is a new question and answer site for computational science that uses the same engine as the well-known stackoverflow site for programming. Take a look at
Some examples of the kind of questions being asked and answered there are:
I’ve been spending some time reading other math blogs to get ideas about how
to organize and utilize this blog. In the course of this I’ve run across
several great blogs. I’ve only sampled them randomly, but here are a few
posts that caught my eye for one reason or another that I’d like to pass
I’m getting a head start on my New Year’s resolutions and starting a blog.
Actually it is more of a “sabbatical resolution”, and sabbatical started December 16. One of the things I hope to do is post frequent updates on
my activities and interesting things I encounter in the next few months.
Why write a blog? I’ve always enjoyed writing lecture notes and books,
and even software documentation. A blog seems like a natural extension
of this as a place to share interesting things I’ve learned in an informal manner. It will also be another tool (along with email, Skype, and claw-dev) to keep in touch with my group while I’m traveling (yes, there will be a quiz at the end of
I also believe it’s important for mathematicians and scientists to
make more effort to explain to the public what we do and why we
think it’s important, and perhaps I can make some modest contributions.
Finally, as an advocate of more openness and reproducibility in
computational science, I hope this blog may be a useful step in
this direction for my own work. Recently Michael Nielsen gave a
CSE colloquium at UW about his new book “Reinventing Discovery”
(which I highly recommend). Dhavide Aruliah was also visiting and
the three of us had a fun meal discussing many things, including
the utility of blogging. I resolved to give it a try, so here it goes…