## [0701] Rejection Letter

└ posted on Thursday, 16 July 2015, by Novil

**Description Arrow:** Reply letter from the Mathematics Magazine

**Letter:** Dear Ms. Williams, Thank you very much for your interesting collection of the latest developments in number theory. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to follow your subsequent remarks on the application of elliptic curves on number field sieves.

**Letter:** In addition, we’d like to point out that it’s inappropriate to refer to a merited member of the mathematics community such as Prof. Brian Conrad as a “giant booger brain” just because you reject his notions on modular curves over rigid-analytic spaces.

**Ye Thuza:** What did I tell you about calling Professor Conrad a booger brain?!
**Yuna:** But he is one!

Poor Yuna. Don’t worry, misunderstood geniuses always end up recognized as such, sooner or later. ^^

Yuna: But he is one! I have demonstrated it, both geometrically, topologically and using set theory! *blows raspberry*

>:=)>

Yuna, you genius….

I was lost after elliptic curves… Still funny though! Lol

If the foo s**ts, …Booger Brain…

What Yuna was referring to:

http://www.std.org/~msm/common/nfspaper.pdf

(may be a code hint for that poster too)

Funnier because there apparently IS a professor Brian Conrad on the matter:

http://math.stanford.edu/~conrad/papers/genpaper.pdf

Crestlingerwrote:My eyes glazed over just trying to read the abstract. :/

I guess this isn’t the first time she’s called him that.

Crestlingerwrote:Sadly, I understand some of this, but not enough to make sense of the variables and functions expressed. Why can’t the math community make publications that are a little more transparent to those of us who aren’t math majors?!

Obviously, she needs to take some lessons in academic debate from Jyrras.

http://www.missmab.com/Comics/Vol_1264.php

I sometimes wish I’ll have a genius kid when I’m older so I can have these comversations.

Then I realize…. No. No, I’d be okay with pretty much all of it.

memBrainwrote:Sadly, I understand some of this, but not enough to make sense of the variables and functions expressed. Why can’t the math community make publications that are a little more transparent to those of us who aren’t math majors?!

Because clear communication of complicated ideas is apparently really hard. There are an unfortunate number of papers that are difficult to read even for specialists. Now admittedly, more papers *should* be readable even by non-specialists. Unfortunately, doing so is actually really difficult, especially when you also want them to have sufficient mathematical rigor and not be unreasonably long.

Yanno, in my decades of teaching I was the Gifted Ed coordinator for the school and spent over twenty years on the district GATE committee. Trust me, you don’t want a genius kid. I’ve dealt with the profoundly gifted and even raised one. It ain’t easy. In fact, it’s damned difficult because the world generally ignores them until they suddenly start Apple Computers or SpaceX. Better by far to have a bright high achiever. Trust me on this.

Is that a Grubby doll? Did those things get rereleased or did Ye Thuza bring it back as a war-trophy from somewhere?

In retaliation, Yuna unleashes Fluffy on an unsuspecting magazine editor:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a183/blitzkrieg1701/edit_zpscv1mrglq.jpg

@ Milestailsfox7:Wandererwrote:well it takes me hours to find out things… I think I will return to physics papers… at least that seems like it connects to real world somehow.

memBrainwrote:Judging from some of the things I’ve heard/read scientists say, when it comes to certain higher-level concepts, math is really the only way to accurately convey information. And most of them

reallyhate the idea ofinaccurately conveying information.Reading this comic was kind of surreal for me, because I’ve met the number theorist Brian Conrad who teaches at Stanford, and I took an abstract algebra course taught by his (identical twin) brother, Keith Conrad (who is also a number theorist).

@ memBrain:All I can say is because maths is fun. But I like my maths and if I were to write a paper I would write it similarly and then laugh.

Listen to your mom, Yuna. Ad hominem is very bad, it’ll turn you into an outcast even when you are right. Which I doubt you are in this case. Not that I can do crypto, but throwing together elliptic curves and a factorization technique sounds a tad like mashing up buzz words… 😉

Also, true comment

@ 1OldBear. I think people don’t want to recognize raw learning ability, so demonstrating skill without achievement is mostly useless.Which sucks for smart kids without a good teacher. I’d guess that most of them get trampled on their first wrong turn and never learn how to deal with it.

@ Greenwood Goat:Totally right! I hear the only reason he has tenure is because he’s blackmailing the university board!

That plush toy Yuna is holding. I remember it from some 80’s TV commercials. It’s a Lots A Lots A Leggggggs plush caterpiller.

http://plushmemories.com/22261/searching-6-feet-or-longer-lots-a-legs-commonwealth-caterpillar.html

Can someone tell me why Yuna is still in elementary school? Shouldn’t she be working on her masters degree in theoretical physics or something?

It’s really because Ye Thuza doesn’t want the editors at the magazine to get Yuna confused with Danae over at Non Sequitur.

When they hand out the Scholarship Money, it pays to have them remember your Name correctly.

.

GotGamewrote:Because Ye Thuza doesn’t think Yuna is quite ready for MIT yet.

And, the MIT Math Department is So not Ready for Ye Thuza …

I wonder when Yuna became a more kid-like Lisa Simpson.

Milestailsfox7wrote:Someone needs to set up an “Explain Sandra and Woo” website like the one that they have for “xkcd”.

@ GotGame:Probably just cultural experience when regards to growing up amongst peers of the same age. As the letter stated she called someone a “giant booger brain” meaning she can’t quite grasp the concept of acting the age her brain would be most suited for.

If I had a genius child; depending on their own thoughts on the class I’d likely not move them up to a higher education until they needed it- giving them supplemental/enrichment learning through scholarships outside of school in the meanwhile. That way they don’t miss out on being a kid- and doing kid things.

Ah, good old days.

reynard61wrote:except xkcd strips can be explained in some 30 lines.

to explain Ye Thuza to the average reader, you’d need about 30 books.

And that’s why she’s a great character.

Also, even

a kidknows that modular curves can’t be well-defined over rigid-analytic spaces as they are proven to be defined only over the rational numbers set with or without adjoinment of a primitive root (in the complex set).memBrainwrote:The need for the prerequisites is unavoidable. If you don’t know what elliptic curves and number field sieves are, then it’s impossible to convey to you any ideas about them. How would you explain algebra to someone unfamiliar with arithmetic?

Conrad knows what he did.

Cryptography? Though everything in number theory seems to be related to cryptography now. (except the monster moonshine thingy or whatever)

Explanation:

Elliptic curves are classes of geometric objects that can also be defined as a group (like the group theory group). They’re useful in cryptography when one applies the modulus operation to the elliptic curve (using modular inverse instead of division and so on).

Apparently a theorem about elliptic curves implied Fermat’s last theorem or sth.

(eg. y^2=x^3-2x+3 is an elliptic curve (I think). Using some simple algebra to find equations for adding two points (or using the group operator on two points), we can convert the equations so that they work in the Z_n (integers modulo n) field rather than the real number field and that is used in cryptography)

(Group theory: basically we have a set S of things (can be numbers, points, other groups, etc) and an operator * such that for a and b in S, a*b is also in S. * can be any operation, for example if S is the integers, * can be the lcm or sth. The nice thing about elliptic curves is that it is commutative, so a*b=b*a. Of course, there are some other nice properties, but yeah)

(Integers modulo n: 4+5=3 (mod 6), 5+1=0 (mod 6), etc)

Number field sieves… the GNFS is the most efficient known way on a classical computer to factor numbers and stuff? I really don’t know too much about this… (Helps crack RSA, but the algorithm needs to be faster to actually be efficient enough. Shor’s algorithm is fast enough)

Oh, and the paper is by the Lenstras. Nice.

@ memBrain:They do. This is not one of them.

Her article was rejected because Mathematics Magazine is for college math. Her article was way beyond that. Send it to an AMS journal, not a MAA journal.

anonymouswrote:I’m a 54 year old adult, and you lost me after “that”…

(Though, admittedly, I’m rather horrible at math — I never took even High School-level Algebra. [Though I now understand some of the concepts behind it and might even pass a course if I were to take it.])

I know she means well, but she really shouldn’t be opening her daughter’s mail. I understand she’s a child but it’s a major breach of her privacy and can cause dissension. I’m sure we all experiences the frustration of receiving our mail pre-opened. It’s not nice and it feels bad, and I think she loves her daughter far too much to want to make her feel like that.

Though for the sake of the joke it can be forgiven.

I love Sandra and Woo, but I feel like this whole, “Yuna is a child genius” joke has been played out way too many times. In fact, aside from the Kick-Ass arc, I don’t think Yuna’s had any other kind of jokes that are focused on her that aren’t about something to do with her genius; reading mathematical algorithms for bedtime stories, cold fusion using Cloud’s figures, and whatnot. I just feel like maybe you could expand the character a bit to other things?

Thee Pie Man

“If I had a genius child; depending on their own thoughts on the class I’d likely not move them up to a higher education until they needed it- giving them supplemental/enrichment learning through scholarships outside of school in the meanwhile. That way they don’t miss out on being a kid- and doing kid things.”

This is a common response to the problem of the profoundly gifted. There’s only one trouble with it. They are only marginally kids. Yes, their emotional age is behind their intellectual age but not as far as many believe. The best idea I’ve seen yet for dealing with them is at Cal State L.A. where they have an Early Entry Program that allows children as young as eleven to enter college if they test high enough. They must commute (we don’t dare put kids that age in the dorms with depraved undergraduates :D) and have their own lounge and study center which is monitored by the Psych Dept. This way these one-in-a-thousand children can still associate with others their own age but who share their abilities. The most important thing is that they understand that rare as they may be, they are not alone. Every urban center NEEDS a center like this.

@ memBrain:They do. There are many very good popular math books, including at least one about elliptic curves, called “Elliptic Tales”. (Full disclosure: I know the authors). I haven’t read it though, because you probably do need background at the level of a math major, at least, to understand it. (This is for the reasons that all the other commenters have explained.) But there are many excellent truly popular math books as well.

Too immature for the greater world, too mature for the lesser one. What a dilemma.

@ qwerytiop:A nitpick on the original comment in the strip though, you apply the NFS to crypto problems, not the other way round. Also, the NFS is applicable to RSA and discrete-log based cryptosystems like DSA and Diffie-Hellman, but not their ECC analogues. For ECC you need to apply the Pollard-Rho method. So the correct form would have been “the application of the Pollard-Rho method to elliptic-curve cryptosystems”.

Lots of maths geekery in there and not enough room in this message box to explain it, Google the terms for more details :-).

Optical Mousewrote:Children have no right to privacy from their own parents. In fact, not knowing who your kids are communicating with can be considered neglect in many places as it actually shows a general apathey for their well being. For example, if my son were communicating with a pedophile, in some US states I could be considered to be at fault for neglect because I didn’t monitor his correspondence. In other places if he were found in possession of narcotics or stolen property I could be charged for “letting it happen”. In yet other places if he’s having sex with a minor girl and I don’t stop it, (even if it’s because I don’t know about it) I can be personally charged with neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (ignorance is not a valid legal defense)

Not that I personally agree with those positions, but whether or not I agree won’t keep me out of jail.

Yuna’s right to privacy ends exactly where Ye Thuza says it ends. That’s her right as Yuna’s mother.