The thing is traditional sources of funding suck, and gov't labs give researchers a much better environment than the endlessly political academia. Moreover, while the contractor we work with has something like a 30% odd markup for grants, the nearest university (that I got my PhD from) takes a whopping 56% of grant money as "overhead," I imagine to pay the salaries of the President, coaches, and superstar medical faculty salaries, as well as the new development all along the nearby street.
I'm happy for my job, I just am embarrassed when I tell people I work for the military because they think I make bombs or something.
"At least I don't design weapons of mass destruction, all I do is read emails"
In truth neither one of these guys did the activities stated, both really were doing system design, optimization and resource allocation with super computers so that the intelligence analysts could rapidly search billions of emails for trigger words, cryptographers could break encryption or weapons designers could model the characteristics of nuclear weapons since we were in a weapons testing ban.
But to echo your point the amount of resources available at national labs and intelligence agencies. The supercomputing resources they had available dwarfed anything available in industry or academia at the time. Today, one might argue that industry and in particular places like Google and Facebook have computing infrastructure and support that was previously only available at national labs.
So now the Google or Facebook guy in a similar meeting will be saying "I only do the analytics that enable us to target people with ads and messages to which they are most vulnerable."
Military labs do not try to make euphemisms for what they do, they want to make sure they directly contribute to a war fighting capability.
> NIF's mission is to achieve fusion ignition with high energy gain, and to support nuclear weapon maintenance and design by studying the behavior of matter under the conditions found within nuclear weapons.
That is true. I am military and I work in a true military lab, so I probably have a different perspective
Eventually I moved to SV and its greener grass: a better salary and a clearer conscience.
The truth is, I miss the interesting work, the competent managers, and having an office. Working to keep people addicted to their screens didn’t do wonders for my conscience or the state of the world.
- Often less than corporate research. I know because I've also worked with them.
- Pays for things like startup packages for new faculty, administrative support, things shared by multiple groups, etc. (as well as, without a doubt, some waste, but I mean, private research companies have that too).
- Is negotiated in advance with the government.
- Is often less than the cost of doing research.
Theoretically that's pretty good. However if you look at a lot of the research projects you kind of scratch your head at the actual output (which imo is the real problem).
Can you elaborate? What do you mean?
Edit: Am not a military researcher, military contractor, etc.
By comparison the largest US commercial employer is WalMart with 1.5 million US employees. Imagine (for the sake of numbers) every WalMart employee and two of their kids constantly making bombs.
Among the general public there's a real stereotype about DOD work. When I mention to strangers that I work for a defense contractor, they more often than not assume I'm working on bombs or something like that. Not every time, but often enough that I'm used to explaining that I only work on mapping software.
> I only work on mapping software
In fairness, those maps are likely used to ensure the bombs go where they should.
True, at least when you're not the one being bombed.
 except maybe that one across the alley that starts loud parties at 3:00 am. If I’m going down you can too guy.
If that were true then the OP would not have to explain himself/herself in any way that made him/her feel embarrassed in the first place.
I think it's very hard to think about making a technology you know is to killing someone. But at the same time, you know it is necessary. You really wish the world you live in would mean there's no reason to. But that isn't the world you live in.
That does not appear to be related to this conversation. The OP does not have those worries and instead feels embarrassed when he/she must explain such.
In the year 2019 working for the US military should feel embarrassing, after the Iraq fiasco, support to journalist-killer Saudi crown prince; support to genociders that use child soldiers such as Idriss Déby (Chad), plus many other mistakes makes it reasonable to feel ashamed of working for the US military complex.
This damned thread has triggered all my pent up jingoism.
"America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn't standing still. " -- e.e. cummings
If you take orders for a living, your job is to be on the move. Not to be right. Ain't no one who matters who has time for being 100% in the right.
But why would you assume an either or to begin with? Soldiers are certainly responsible for their actions like anyone else, no matter their orders. Just as people giving the orders are responsible for whats done on their behalf. I also dont think it would be to controversial to also see responsibility of the people who voted them into office.
I would have hoped, that the excuse of just following orders had died with the end of WW2.
The military is part of the government (executive branch).
A decent society made this a law because it makes the separation between "Money spent directly on research" and "Money spent on things like the copy machine, internet, keeping the lights on, etc." transparent - unlike how it works in most private industry.
Trust me, universities would love to be able to get rid of the concept of indirect costs. It's mandated by the government, and negotiated with them (at my university, at a slight loss sometimes).
Personally, I don't understand this, but I'm from an ex-Eastern Bloc country which I was all too happy to escape.
I'd rather the US (and the rest of the Western world) made bombs than only Russia and China did. Vacuums of power in the world will always be filled and a Western invasion/expeditionary force is a much nicer alternative to a Russian one.
See: afganistan, expanding africom, iraq, etc
The ugly truth is that there are plenty of bad guys or people who would be bad guys (some of them in the U.S. admittedly), and a lot of them won't stop without force or threat of force.
I know this isn't a universal opinion but I believe that smarter military technology has a better chance of ending/stopping/preventing war than starting it.
A global surveillance network and insect-sized drones that precisely assasinate "enemy" leaders.
Why bother with infantry and big guns etc.?
I truly hate that my research will contribute to killing. I wish that it wasn't necessary. But as events like Crimea annexation and the South China Sea shows, if the USA is not there, then other nations are very happy to use their might to boss others around. I truly do think the USA is a force for good, and I want that to be there for my following generations.
This is kind of the same logic that often makes me wish for an extraterrestrial invasion.
An alien species has a much higher chance of treating us all equally, than we do ourselves.
So if we want to unite the earth, we need an extra terrestrial threat. It could be asteroid or alien invasion. Now these are less probable, hence we should set up Martian colonies and then just allow the earthlings to do their thing. They will eventually treat Mars humans as a threat. This is our only option to unify the earth.
It could also end up being an exclusive resort for the elite of our society to escape to, so they may no longer have to pretend to care about Earth at all.
Why do we think that a unified earth will be a good thing? It seems too utopian to me...
Why would anybody think that's not a good thing?
It sounds boring...
The atomic bomb is a notable example, and consider Eisenhower and many other military leaders said "there was no reason to use that awful thing." I realize my high school education, and most othet's, led me to believe this wasn't the case.
I'm not trying to say it's wrong, but it deserves a lot of skepticism.
It is difficult to question the possible outcomes if different choices were made but you can be sure that the last 80 years could have been much different and much worse. The bomb did make certain kinds of war impossible, and it is not clear if that would be true if they had not been used when they were.
The bomb were used on an enemy that was sooo defeated that there was a coup attempt by the military between the two bombs to prevent the emperor from capitulating.
In this case you're only speaking for yourself.
Most Asians, from the Middle East through to the South East, would kindly disagree.
If you spend some time looking at the divisive, genocidal campaigns of the Americans, British and French across Western, Southern and South-Eastern Asia it's not hard to see why.
As you can imagine, he had a far more positive view of Western occupation than Russian occupation.
He was not a member of the Nazi party, but was in the military.
The story, as best as I can recall:
After they ran out of gas, the soldiers were given bicycles and panzerfaust, and told to head East, because the Russians were invading.
He hid in a hole as Russian tanks drove past. He deserted, and went West as fast as he could, deliberately getting himself captured by the invading US forces.
He said he was treated better by the Americans as a prisoner of war than he was by the Nazis as a soldier. I don't think any soldiers captured by the Russians would say the same.
Not long thereafter, the war in Germany ended. While the soviets plundered East Germany, the Americans with the Marshall plan helped rebuild West Germany. My grandfather, having not been a member of the Nazi party, was also treated very well during this period.
Even though allied bombs destroyed 80% of his home city, this earned the US enough goodwill in his eyes (and probably many of his generation) that throughout the rest of his life, he supported the US (even while he didn't agree with everything they did). His daughter ended up marrying an American.
If enemy soldiers thought you'd treat them better after they surrender than they're being treated now, they're not likely to fight very hard. Unfortunately, I think we have an instinctual urge to punish enemies. We like negative sum games.
On the other hand, let's consider how popular inter-Asian occupation was.
Robert Ghrist of UPenn has been at the forefront of bringing topology into applied fields; and has written a good text on the subject.
Really hope to, though.
Found this on Dr. John D. Cook's blog.
It's a very opinionated book, but that's no a bad thing. And, unlike the Stewart doorstop, it's compact, as a text should be.
I skimmed the PDF of the book but am drawing blank as to its connection to an application. Perhaps it's used for verification of concepts, similar to how formal methods in CS (e.g. TLA+) are used to conceptually check algorithms?
From the software engineering point of view a type is something of which you can say whether something is a member of the type. And the same thing can be set about sets.
Even within "Set Theory" (as an umbrella term), there are several axiomatizations of sets that define in different ways what a set is, how sets come into existence, what it means for an element to belong to a set, and what are the allowed ways to conclude that it does or does not.
The link posted in a sibling comment by @empath75 goes into more detail.
But did he ultimately decline? The link you posted has this content at the very end:
> Something tipped the scales and I said yes. We applied for the grant, and we got it.
> And so, an interesting adventure began. It will last for 3 years, and I’ll say more about it soon.
And further down, this is his reply to a reader comment:
> As I said at the end of my post, I am working with Metron on this CASCADE project, and I’ll be doing it for 3 years. My decision was not predicated on the hope that the US will do anything in particular. It’s predicated on the hope that I’ll make faster progress in my research if I team up with some more practical people and use my math skills to tackle a concrete problem in network theory: namely, optimizing search and rescue missions. I’ll get lots of new ideas which I wouldn’t get otherwise, and I’ll publish papers on these ideas.
> If I were only searching for mathematical beauty in the word I wouldn’t feel the need to work on this project, because beauty is so easy to find. Instead, I’m trying to develop network theory into a useful set of tools.
It has taken me years - an entire career, really - to learn to effectively communicate my mathematical findings to other non-mathematical researchers and effectively bridge these gaps. I know a lot of mathematicians who say "well, sure, I could communicate my work to other fields, but ...<some excuse here>", when the truth is, they just don't have the training or expertise for how to do it. It's not just that they don't want to/are too good to bother/etc./etc. (as much as they would like it to seem that way).
The fact is, translating research findings is hard. Much harder than actually making them. And asking good questions, relevant to the scientific field you are working in, even harder. The quote above reflects a common, damaging hubris in mathematics research and is why most of the "best" math research never gets used in other fields of science.
I think this is an indication that one is making findings in area that other people don't care about. Not necessarily that it is bad subject to study, but with some people, it is better not to spend the effort to explain, because only the prepared mind can understand.
when asked a how-many or how-much question that involved basic arithmetic, one would reply:
"Yeah, I can't do that. That's applied math".
It's true though, lots of mathematicians are lousy at arithmetic.
Wearing both hats you can find yourself creating new mathematics, but there is a difference in why you are doing it, and what you consider progress to mean.
Pure math is increasing abstraction, moving away from physical reality, from examples to patterns. Applied math is the reverse direction.
No matter which direction is your personal preference, sometimes switching direction helps you reach your goal.
For what it's worth I find your characterization awkward; an attempt to map onto a simple spectrum that seems to miss something important. I'll have to think about why that is.
...did you read that after you typed it? do you think there is a actually some US federal government bureaucrat running around who has an opinion on HTT?
"Homotopy Type Theory and its applications are such an area that is of significant interest in military applications",
I think someone is making a mountain out of a mole hill here. I’m sure there will be a flurry of grant money though.
I think the actually idea is while the theory of statistics (like all math) is well typed, professional statisticians tend to use shitty tools/programming languages without good type systems.
People scoff that type errors are easy, but when most of the work is encoding the domain knowledge, and the statistics isn't to bad and just the last step, you definitely want to make sure you model prior to drawling statistical conclusions is sound and rich.
tl;dr there's good reason to invest in better tools, and the homotopy type theory that's being funded is as much about "how to apply math" as "what math to apply".
The idea that statistics is a field with poor software tools is just plain crazy.
None of those languages have good type systems.
And like I said, this is about modelling more generally than just statistics.
It's very often an outsider misusing statistics, while professional statisticians who point out the mistakes are ignored.
I don't know how much of the blame you should assign to the field, in that.
Good on them, that long division can be tricky.
> Modeling frameworks are desired that are able to eschew the usual computational simplification assumptions and realistically capture … complexities of real world environments and phenomena, while still maintaining some degree of computational tractability. Of specific interest are causal and predictive modeling frameworks, hybrid model frameworks that capture both causal and predictive features, statistical modeling frameworks, and abstract categorical models (cf. Homotopy Type Theory).
You could fit everyone in the Army who understands this in a single barracks.
Why would you need more people than that? I wouldn't be surprised if the number of people in my University who understand this would fit in a single barracks too, but it doesn't in any way detract from the work they're doing.