Memos to papers to books

In recent years I’ve settled into the habit of writing numbered research memos. A typical one might be four pages long and include half a dozen computational experiments and plots along with theorems and references. The time scale of a memo is a matter of days, so they are excellent for day-to-day motivation, unlike papers (months) and books (years). These mathematical memos are the main way I communicate during an ongoing project with my coauthors and my increasingly forgetful self.

The current series, on rational functions, is up to Rat124, and 8 journal articles have come out of these. That’s 15 memos per paper. One level up in this verbal food chain, I note that all together in my career, I have published around 140 papers and 7 books. That’s 20 papers per book.

So my career to date has the heft of around 2100 memos. Actually, I wasn’t always so memo-happy; the true number is more like 400 — plus a few hundred Chebfun Examples, which are psychologically similar.

[27 July 2020]

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