Monday, March 27, 2006

No opportunity for subtle wordplay

The fourth Abel prize has been awarded to L. Carleson of the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden "for his profound and seminal contributions to harmonic analysis and the theory of smooth dynamical systems." The Slashdot story mentions that "[h]is theorems have been helpful in creating [the] iPod," and includes a decent layman's explanation of Prof. Carleson's contributions to analysis. Essentially, he proved that using Fourier series to encode functions is theoretically sound, and not just "effective in practice."

I name my Apple products after mathematicians; my iPod shuffle is Diaconis, my Airport Express is Heddy (after H. Lamar), and my iPod (with video), after careful consideration, was christened Fourier, owing to its algorithmic dependence on Fourier series. Perhaps Carleson would have been a better choice. Well, there will probably be an iPod in need of a name in the future.

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