Just back from Toronto, where I spent a few days at the Clay-Fields Conference on Additive Combinatorics, Number Theory, and Harmonic Analysis. Now that we have CJ I hardly ever go to a whole conference anymore. But going to a half-conference is great! You get to talk to all the interesting participants in a very concentrated way, and you don’t have to spend too long away from home. Of course, you miss a lot of good talks — fortunately, another blogger is on the scene summarizing everything I didn’t see.
A little more math in a second, but first I want to record the fact that in the Detroit airport, you can — and I did — purchase a peanut butter, jelly, honey, and bacon sandwich. I recommend this! Also, on this trip Tamar Ziegler introduced me to the great Greg’s Ice Cream. She told me I had to try roasted marshmallow ice cream, and she spoke the truth. Naturally it reminded me of my favorite ice cream flavor in the world, burnt sugar at Christina’s in Cambridge, MA. More ice cream should taste charred.
Tamar also introduced me to a really nice problem in what one might call “higher-degree Fourier analysis,” which I’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about — essentially one wants a kind of accounting of functions which are “pretending to be lower degree than they are,” after the fashion of the example described on Terry’s blog of a quartic which “pretends to be a cubic.” (Very vague, I know — if I decide I have something to say about this problem, I’ll explain it more fully!) One of the pleasant surprises of the conference was that I really learned a lot about current issues in Gowers-style analysis, thanks to excellent lectures by Ben Green and WTG himself, and the thorough and very patient explanations I received from Tamar and Julia Wolf.