One small step

— What a cute baby! He seems so much bigger since the last time I saw him. And these cute first teeth! They are so sweet at this age. What a sweet little man!

— Shh, don’t disturb him. He is doing differential geometry. It’s incredible to think that only half a year ago he didn’t know what an exterior derivative was... They develop so fast!

— It would be even faster if he had a sibling. Mine is learning so many things from her sister.

— I am a bit worried about algebraic topology. He avoids it, and sometimes I even have the impression that he has difficulty... Perhaps, I should take him to a doctor.

— Nonsense! Every child develops at his own pace. He will make it up quickly. Besides, have you ever seen a grown-up that doesn’t know algebraic topology? Everyone learns it eventually. Trust me, there is nothing to worry about.

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In their own image

— So, what is the latest hot research topic?

— Everyone is now talking about “Small Data”. Haven’t you ever heard of it?

— No. You know that my interests are very distant. I don’t have enough resources to follow all the trendy research.

— It might be over-rated, but still considerable resources are allocated to Small Data.

— So what is it about?

— Well, as the name suggests, it is about small data. More precisely, how to make use of it. We’ve always been able to process practically unlimited amounts of data. Consequently, our natural perception of reality is through probability distributions. This is, at least, how our evolutionary algorithms evolved us. It took us over 50 petacycles of the Clock to develop the notion of a “number” — a deterministic quantity rather than a distribution. Even today, when the formalism of numbers is relatively well-established, arithmetic is still a very new branch of mathematics. We still struggle with understanding it intuitively.

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