Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Joel David Hamkins

Joel David Hamkins

Mathematician and philosopher (The City University of New York)

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Joel David Hamkins, and I am a mathematician and philosopher at The City University of New York. I pursue research on the mathematics and philosophy of the infinite. I have done fundamental work on forcing and large cardinals in set theory. My work on infinite time computation lies at the center of the recent resurgence of interest in that subject, and I am one of the world experts on the theory of infinite chess. I co-founded Cantor's Attic, a wiki-style compendium of information about infinity, and I am the top-rated contributor to MathOverflow, a research-level Q & A site for mathematics professionals. I have ideas about Math for Kids, and my recent post on Math for seven-year-olds made it to the top of Hacker News and Digg.com.

What hardware do you use?

I work in many locations - home, office, libraries, but in truth, mainly in cafes --- and so it is convenient to use a Sony Vaio VPC Z2 ultrathin laptop for all my computer work, augmented with a docking station and a second monitor at my office. I print, scan and copy at home with a Brother DCP 7060D multifunction laser printer. I am constantly on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smart phone. For music, I use a Grace digital amplifier, piping via Bluetooth from my computer or phone to the built-in speakers in my apartment.

I make espresso with my Vev Vigano Kontessa stovetop espresso maker, and mix dry gin martinis using a cocktail shaker that I found in a thrift shop, but which looks exactly like this 3D model from TurboSquid. I ride a Dutch-style Kidz Tandem bicycle, manufactured by Brown Cycles in Colorado, and use a Go Pro Hero 3 camera for automated pictures and video while riding. Almost all of the two dozen or so clocks in my home are antiques, many of them from my wife's grandfather's clock repair shop which he ran ages ago on Canal Street.

At the chalkboard, I use only Hagoromo faru ta'chi ("Full-Touch") chalk, for which it has been claimed that it is impossible to make a mathematical mistake when writing with this chalk.

And what software?

For all of my mathematical writing I use LaTeX, and specifically the miktex package, using the WinEdt editor and the Sumatra PDF v1.9 viewer. My blog runs on WordPress, and is coupled with my Google+ account, and Cantor's Attic runs on MediaWiki. My phone runs on Android, and I stay organized with the Pocket Informant app. I play chess online using Dasher on the Internet Chess Club.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream set-up would be a completely transparent, weightless technology that turned my mathematical thoughts and ideas into elegant, flawlessly written, mathematically correct arguments that would inform and enlighten humanity for millennia, while also serving up cups of espresso on demand. I suppose The Magic Pudding, if there were advanced mathematics amongst his other attractive wits, would be something of an approximation.